Activities & Lesson Plans - Kindergarten Newsletter 1/15/10 - Listening To Elephants

Grade: K
January 15, 2010 | Kindergarten

In This Issue: An Elephant Dictionary; Cars of the Future

ElephantMy, What Big Ears They Have

You may have heard of elephants that can paint, but have you heard that they can talk? A scientist working in Central Africa for nearly 20 years spends long days observing forest elephants—counting their numbers, monitoring their health and listening to what they have to say. Researchers at Cornell University's Elephant Listening Project are using this information to create an elephant dictionary. Most of what they say cannot be heard by humans, as the pitch is too low. Among other things, the dictionary will help conservationists monitor and protect the population of this threatened species. 

Watch an artistic elephant

Activity Ideas
Language Arts 

Discuss with your child the various ways that people communicate. Think of things that help to get meaning across: pictures in books, symbols on labels or signs, the expression on someone's face or gestures. Brainstorm a list of ways that you or other family members use gestures, tone of voice or expressions to get a point across. Here's a few to get you started. 

  • Shake head from left to right: Indicates disagreement or the answer "No!" By putting hands over ears, you convey the message, "I'm not listening!"Shake head up and down: Can indicate agreement, or an emphatic or enthusiastic "Yes!"
  • When a parent crosses their arms and raises or lowers voice: May indicate anger or disappointment.
  • A smile says "I'm happy with you!"
Now, make a list of symbols that you recognize
  • A cigarette with a red circle and a slash over it: No smoking area
  • A cell-phone with a red circle and a slash: A cell-phone free zone
  • A skull and crossbones: Poisonous
Learning Tips: Words Have Meaning

Prius 2010A Smaller, Cleaner, Greener Drive

The recession and rising fuel costs are driving the latest trends in the auto world. Hybrid, electric and fuel-efficient cars replaced the gas-guzzling giants of old at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. The new models, including the Tango—a slim electric car where the passenger rides behind the driver—and Toyota's tiny FT-TV (Future Toyota electric vehicle) are quite a departure for Americans who are accustomed to ruling the road. 
See photos from the show 

Activity Ideas
Tell your child that inventors and scientists sometimes look to nature for inspiration when trying to build a faster, smarter or just plain cool-looking machine. Review the following pictures (clockwise from top left: A, B, C, D), then match these animal-inspired descriptions to the car each describes.

  • So quiet and good for the environment, this car blends into nature like a bug in a field of flowers. (B)
  • The wings might be just for show, but this car feels like it can fly. (A)
  • Aside from its gills, this fully-evolved species rules the road. (C)
  • Racehorses will turn green with envy when this red car zooms past. (D)


    Detroit Car Show                Detroit Car Show                Detroit Car show               Detroit auto show

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