Preschoolers are capable of learning more about the world than many of us might think. I like to start my kids off with exposure to STEM activities early, starting as early as toddlers. Definitely by the preschool years children can do all sorts of preschool STEM activities. When my middle daughter was in preschool, I created this animal diet classification STEM challenge for her so she could identify the different types of foods that animals eat and how they can be classified.
What Do Preschoolers Learn with the Animal Diet Classification Activity?
Preschoolers can learn a lot when they participate in this preschool STEM activity. Classifying things is one of the major parts of science, and learning how to sort and classify can start very early in a child’s life.
This particular animal diet classification activity teaches preschoolers about the different types of food animals eat, whether they are herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore, and also how the environment that an animal lives in can change what they eat!
Supplies for The Animal Diet Classification Activity
Most preschool classrooms will have everything they need to set up this preschool STEM activity. All you need are some representations of different animal diets and a variety of animals to sort by their diet.
Here is what we used in our activity:
- Little People Farm Animals (or other toy animals)
- Butcher paper
- Animal food (we used grass, red manipulatives, a small cosmetic sponge, popcorn, toy sandwiches, and toy bugs)
Below you’ll find links to some of my other favorite STEM products for preschoolers from Amazon!
hand2mind STEM Bins Kit by Brooke Brown for Kids (Set of 16) – 18 Different Manipulatives, 8 Challenge Yourself Cards, 8 Writing Prompt Cards, and Teacher Guidehand2mind STEM Bins by Brooke Brown, 12 Ready-to-Fill Plastic Bins with Manipulative Labels (Bins Only)Carson Dellosa STEM Challenges Learning Cards (140350)The Mason Jar Scientist: 30 Jarring STEAM-Based ProjectsSTEAM Play & Learn: 20 fun step-by-step preschool projects about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math!Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar TwistEducational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope STEM Toy for PreschoolersLearning Resources Primary Science Lab Activity Set, Science Exploration, 22 Pieces, Ages 4+Learning Resources Super Magnet Lab Kit, STEM Toy, Critical Thinking, 119 Pieces, Ages 5+Learning Resources Primary Science Color Paddles, Set of 18 Paddles, 6 Assorted Colors, Grades PreK/Ages 3+Kidtastic Set of 7 Take Apart Toys – Dinosaurs, Helicopter, Train, Truck, Motorcycle – STEM Building Set – Hours of Fun – 192 Pieces – Engineering Kit for Boys, Girls, Toddlers – Age 3, 4, 5 +Year Old48 Pack Microscope Slide Collection of Insect Animal and Plant Specimens for Basic Biology Education and Science Exhibition Projects for Kids & Students
How to Set Up the Animal Diet Classification Activity for Preschoolers
I kept the set-up for this preschool classification activity super simple.
I gathered animal food-like items from the kid’s toys and placed them inside six circles (big enough to set the animals in).
I wrote the name of each food inside each circle. I included “lunch” because humans need to eat too!
More Preschool STEM Activity Ideas
Preschoolers are super curious and it’s a lot of fun to do safe STEM activities with them! After you do this animal diet classification activity, try some of my other favorite STEM activities for preschoolers:
- Button Color Sorting Activity for Preschool
- Ice Cream Color Match Game
- Color Sorting STEM Activity for Toddlers
- Dinosaur Color by Number
How to Do the Animal Diet Classification STEM Challenge
Show the circles with the different food items on them to the preschoolers.
Some of the options were open to interpretation, so you can decide for yourself whether a cow, for example, is an eater of grass or grain.
If the students start to place the animals in the wrong category, ask them to think again about what that animal eats. It’s OK to give hints if necessary.
Most preschoolers will be able to identify what most animals eat with little to no prompting.
After categorizing the animals, explain to the preschoolers that there are three main types of animal diets: herbivore, omnivore, and carnivore. You can also expand on the concept of ecosystems and animal habitats and why certain animals have evolved to eat the foods that they do.
After the discussion portion of the activity, allow the preschoolers to play with their animals and pretend to feed them. After all, play is a huge part of preschool STEM exploration!