Learning Tip: Animal Inventions
By Susan Dichter
What would happen if a zebra suddenly possessed a neck as long as a giraffe? Or an elephant's trunk was attached to a lion? Fanciful, never-never land creatures were commonplace in medieval bestiaries and can live again—in your child's imagination!
All he will need is some paper and a box of crayons. The rest will be found within his own fertile mind. First ask him to name two of his favorite animals and to think about what they would look like if they could be magically combined. Encourage him to draw this wonderful creature.
Having created his own wonderful beast, there is every reason to give the animal a history, in much the same way that medieval men and women told fabulous tales about the creatures that they envisioned. Where does the beast live? Has he any friends? What does he eat? What was the biggest adventure he ever had? After you've asked a few of these questions, chances are your child's imagination will take off. Who knows? His cat-turtle may be the first in a series of fabulous creatures that will enrich his world.
Susan Dichter wears many hats—mother, writer, former teacher, museum director and librarian; her books include Teachers: Straight Talk From The Trenches.
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