Hands-on learning always makes memorization easier (which is probably why the girls are having to work so hard to get their Latin vocabulary to stick), and so before completely settling down with horses for a while, I had the girls do a couple of research projects involving the classification of other animals.
We own a set of animal x-rays, and now we own a giant lightbox upon which we can look at them!
Willow and I placed a bunch of our animal x-rays on the lightbox at random, and then put a sheet of tracing paper over the entire lightbox, taping it snugly at the sides. I gave each of the girls a white crayon, and they used it to trace the skeletons of each of the animals:
|You can see the white crayon if you look carefully.|
On a different day, Sydney watered down some black BioColor paint, and the girls painted a black wash over the skeletons on the tracing paper. This made the skeletons stand out really well, although it took a couple of tries to get the paint to the right consistency--too thin, and it just soaks through the paper without leaving much color; too thick, and it covers the paper and the crayon, too.
I hung the giant painting out on the laundry line (and then on the shower curtain rod when it started to rain) to dry, and on a different day we used it to inspire a research project.
I had the girls choose their favorite skeleton from the painting, cut it out, and spray mount it to a large piece of construction paper:
|Spray mount is FUN!|
The animal x-rays set also includes photos of the living animal that each skeleton belongs to, and its name, so next the kiddos matched their skeleton to its animal, drew the animal--
--and then researched its classification. Normally, I encourage the girls to use Encyclopedia Britannica for their reference questions, but Wikipedia has this great feature of including the entire order of classification for each living creature that has an article about it on their site:
Each level also includes a link, so it's pretty amazing. The girls copied the order of classification for their animal--
--and then together we went through that order, clicking on each level in Wikipedia to learn more about that type. Kingdom Animalia and Order Chordata are reviews, because we've already studied what makes an animal and what a spinal cord does, but it was fun to see what Class Reptilia comprises, and then narrow it down to Order Squamata, which is just the lizards and the snakes, and then we go down to Family Iguanidae, which is just the iguanas, and so on and so on:
Although the girls LOVED this activity, and I thought that it had a lot of value in improving their understanding of animal classification, we actually didn't do this for the horses that we're now studying, simply because we don't have any horse x-rays!
What we DO have, however, are the real-live Cody and Lola, the horses that Syd and Will ride during their weekly horseback riding lessons. And though there aren't as many hands-on projects for studying horse anatomy as there are for, say, human anatomy, it turns out that having a real-live horse buddy to think about when memorizing parts, or talking about classification, is just about the best thing ever.