There’s nothing like bunnies to help you grab kids’ attention and inspire hard work and creativity. And you don't have to be a rabbit expert to make this happen for your kids. If you know a local spot where rabbits hang, take kids outside and simply observe them in action. Read a poem or story about rabbits and how they live. If you have a few kids on your hands, play a little Bunny, Bunny, Fox (extremely similar to Duck, Duck, Goose).
Then, find your way to the edge of a field or meadow. Imagine along with kids that it is dusk and a hungry fox is coming. Challenge kids to build a safe hideout for a bunny, using a stuffed animal or bunny sized object as a model. Support them as they gather materials and test out different designs, placing the “bunny” in each new home. Can the home they make keep the bunny out of sight? Can she get in and out easily and without making too much noise? Can the home stand up to wind and rain?
Give kids time to craft a structure or two. Try to let them generate the ideas and lend your skills to help them realize their plans. Talk with them about what works and what doesn't in each design. Watch and enjoy as they take the perspective of another living thing and work tirelessly to build a good home for their bunny.
Since examples often help, to follow are three approaches that kids in our classes tried:
By challenging kids to design a home for a real creature and test it out using a stuffed animal, you give them the chance to practice both the imagining and the doing and, more importantly, to develop their creativity.
This activity is a great way to build persistence and a sense of the value of hard work. The solution is not obvious. The materials are not included. Kids need to think, plan, gather, haul, arrange, dig, and stick with it until they find a solution that works. In the end, kids experience genuine satisfaction, and yours will be praise well spent.
Finally, kids can read books and web sites or watch videos and shows about rabbits. They can even listen to a naturalist or inspiring teacher tell them about the creatures and how they live. But, nothing can compare to getting outside and taking the perspective of the animal. First, it is quite a workout for their imaginations. Perhaps even more, though, this kind of personal, direct experience helps kids build their own life as a naturalist. It also helps them make sense of major science concepts like predator/prey relationships and camouflage more, better preparing them to apply the concepts in new situations and more formally as they progress in school.