Take your little ones to a park and look and listen to see animals communicating with each other, talk about how we talk to each other to communicate, and describe what other animals are doing. Look out for dog walkers who might be talking to their dogs, shouting commands to them. Look at how the dog responds, how do they show that they are happy? How do they play with their owners?
Listen out for birds calling to one another. When birds sing they are often exchanging song with a partner or potential mate. See if you can stand near to where a bird is singing and listen to its bursts of song. Then listen in the gaps between and see if you can hear thesame notes repeated back by another bird at a distance. Birds often exchange song in this way for minutes, you must just be patient to listen out for this and recognise that the communication is not simply one bird singing, but two birds exchanging notes.
Ponds should provide more evidence of animals communicating, especially when young ducklings have hatched. Look at how parent ducks protect their young from intruders - they will squawk at other birds and even people that step too close to their brood. Look at how ducks might peck each other to 'fight' over a partner. At the right time of year you might also hear the sounds made by frogs who make a terrific mating call, using sound to attract a partner.
Listen to what other noises you can hear from the park thamight interrupt birds communicating over distance. Can you hear the sounds of traffic? ...trains? ...aeroplanes? All this noise pollution has a detrimental effect on animals being able to communicate. Talk with your little ones about how this will impact their ability to communicate and demonstrate how you have to talk louder yourself as you approach the noise of traffic.
Ponds can look lovely, with neat little reeds growing tall, a few fish swimming around and perhaps a water lily decorating the middle, but, as the parents of the toddler who recently drowned in a garden pond in Cumbria tragically found out, they are also very dangerous for toddlers and young children.
The 23 month old child was discovered by his mother early evening just a few weeks ago. Despite calling for help and being rushed to the local hospital, the little one didn't pull through. He drowned in the pond in the family garden.
Earlier this year, another 2 year old was found drowned in his garden pond in Bristol. In this case, the mother was arrested on suspicion of child neglect, although she was released on police bail.
Every year on average, about ten toddlers and children die in garden ponds. It is tragic and it is an avoidable disaster.
Needless to say, no matter how pretty your pond, none is worth the loss of life, the anguish of the parents, friends and family who will never be able to change the course of events and bring their little children back.
Children and toddlers whether crawling or walking or running move fast. One moment they are there, the next they have scuttled off. That is the nature of children.
Don't bother with fencing, or raising a little wall around the water, or carefully explaining to the kids not to go near the water. Just fill it in, turn it into a sandpit even! It simply isn't worth it!
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