My daughter is taking my grandson to the zoo tomorrow. He’s one and a half and gets a kick out of seeing all the birds, beasts, and bugs they have on display.
He’s starting to talk more. He’s always gibber-jabbered, but now he’s using recognizable words to communicate what he likes and what he wants. Very cool!
He’s a big fan of elephants. I think most kids are, and what’s not to like? They are huge and intelligent and can be surprisingly gentle. And though they are mammals, they are so different from us or any other mammal that it’s hard to believe we’re the same class of animals. (Elephants and humans along with most other mammals belong to the Placental Group because they directly feed their young during gestation through a placenta.)
My daughter has all manner of books with pictures of animals and she goes through the books pointing out and naming the beasts with her son regularly, so he knows and can name them on sight. Books are fun, but kids get a much bigger kick when the critters actually move.
I’m a big fan of zoos too. I live in Central Florida so I have access to several zoos and zoo-like parks (Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom and Busch Garden’s Animal Attractions) The closest zoo is in Sanford. It’s a small affair, but the animals are in nice displays that give them room to move naturally. And living in Florida, it’s hard to ignore birds and bugs. I’ve lived here over twenty years and I am still surprised by the variety of birds I can see just outside my door. (It’s a strange feeling to have a flock of Sandhill Cranes, which can be up to five feet in height, look you in the eye as they casually stroll across your lawn. ) I won’t even get into the variety of bugs I find outside (and inside) my house.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, identifying those birds beast, and bugs is easy with these three free apps.
Real Animals HD
If you have wee ones like my grandson and an iPad then you and the tyke might like Real Animals HD. Here’s a tidy app that offers up nicely rendered 3D animals that you can make do fun things when you tap them. For instance, if you tap and hold then drag your finger slowly across the screen the animal you tapped will follow you. Just tapping the animal makes it do other things as well while the name appears above and is announced. Your kid’s going to love it.
There are some negatives. You can lead your elephant right through a zebra, which I hope would never happen in “real” life. Also the free version has a rather limited selection of animals to play with. An elephant, zebra, and parrot. And it’s got ads. To get more critters and dump the ads you have to pay three bucks for the full version.
Look! It’s a Zebrelephant!
Still, if you just want to keep little Billy or Susie entertained for a few minutes Real Animals HD is one way to do it.
Aren’t owls cool looking birds? They have those big eyes, interesting plumage, and claws nasty enough to make you glad you’re not a rodent.
The Audubon Society has an excellent iPhone app that list several species of North American owls including the Barn, Screech, and Borrowing owls. This app is stuffed to the rafters with owl info, photos, recording of the hoots and screeches, and games. 19 species of owls are included.
The photos alone are worth the download. The app includes several of each species including shots of the young.
This is one of those apps that’s hard to believe is free and has no ads, but it’s true. Grab Audubon Owls, and good pair of binoculars and some mosquito repellent and head for the woods this evening and see which owl you spot.
Insects are fascinating creatures. They come an unbelievable variety of shapes and sizes and can be both boon or bane to other animals.
Bug Zoo, get us up close and personal with many of the more interesting bugs. This is not just a digital picture book, it contain interactive multimedia that lets to examine the bug in question from sever angles. It offers voice and text discussions and a variety of photos and pictures that show the insect in its natural habitat.
This is such a well done app. I only wish they listed more bugs. Note that you have to pay to unlock some bugs, but what you get for free will keep you occupied for at least a few minutes. There are no ads to mess up the beautiful interface and the background music is easy on the ears. There’s a free iPhone version as well. This is a must have for kids and adults.
That’s a wrap for this week. More freebies next week.