The 15th of February, celebrates the 2nd largest land mammal on the planet – the great hippopotamus! This is a great theme to explore with the children of your service and to join in the celebrations of World Hippopotamus Day! There is so much to learn about the hippo from the size, shape and colour to where he lives, how he lives and what he eats!
Children may already recognise the hippo from books and stories and maybe even a trip to the zoo with family. They may be able to describe the hippo and this is a great way to draw on the children’s language and vocabulary skills. To begin you can start by telling the children a story about hippos or you could show the below video which is all about the hippopotamus.
World Hippopotamus Day – Fun Facts about the Hippo;
- The word Hippopotamus comes from the Greek language and means ‘River Horse’.
- It is the 2st largest land mammal on earth, the elephant being the largest.
- The Hippo spends most of the day in the water to keep cool from the African sun and blistering heat.
- Hippos are most active at night time as they forage for food.
- As hippos are ‘herbivores’ they eat mainly grass.
- Did you know that hippos can hold their breath for up to five minutes under water!
- They live in groups (herd) of up to 20 individuals and can live up to 40 years.
Learning Opportunities from World Hippopotamus Day
There are various learning opportunities for children while exploring and discussing the Hippopotamus. The subject underpins the Aistear theme ‘Exploring and Thinking‘ as the children are ‘making sense of the things, places and people in their world by interacting with others, playing, investigating, questioning, and forming, testing and refining ideas’. The learning can be extended to some of the below themes;
- Elephants – The elephant is the largest land animal in the world and is a great theme for children to extend their learning on the animals of Africa.
- Africa – As the Hippopotamus can be found in Africa, the learning can be extended to learn about this great continent and its many countries.
- Mammals – As the Hippo is a mammal, the children may talk about other animals that they might associate with the hippo, leading them to explore more about other animals such as the elephant, giraffe, zebra and lion.
- Shapes – The hippo has a barrel shape with short legs and a large head. This is a great way of introducing different shapes names to the children. You can have a go at drawing a hippo using different shapes. Watch this short ‘Learn to Draw a Hippo with Shapes’ for some inspiration!