Much of Europe has similar animals, so it was a fun challenge to pick a few for our Ireland unit. I tried to find some that were specific to just Ireland or came to mind when one thinks of Ireland. I also created corresponding Montessori inspired 3-part printables for these animals as part of our Ireland Unit Study.
Irish Hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus) – also known as the mountain hare, this subspecies of the European Mountain Hare stays brown all year and individuals rarely develop a white coat. The Irish hare may also have a “golden” variation, particularly those found on Rathlin Island. Miniature: I the rabbit found in the “Nature” TOOB by Safari Ltd. You can also buy one here on Amazon.
European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) – is a well-known species, and a favorite in European gardens, both for its endearing appearance and its preference for eating a range of garden pests. This species is largely nocturnal. It has a hesitant gait, frequently stopping to smell the air. Unlike the smaller, warmer-climate species, the European hedgehog may hibernate in the winter. Miniature: I used a miniature from “Pets” TOOB by Safari, Ltd. You can also buy one here on Amazon.
River Otter (Lutra lutra) – is also known as the Eurasian otter due to its distribution throughout Europe and Asia. It is found in the waterways and coasts of Europe, many parts of Asia, and parts of northern Africa. The Eurasian otter has a diet mainly of fish, and is strongly territorial. Their bones show osteosclerosis, increasing their density to reduce buoyancy.] This otter differs from the North American river otter by its shorter neck, broader visage, the greater space between the ears and its longer tail. Miniature:
I used a miniature from “River” TOOB by Safari, Ltd. You can also buy one here on Amazon.
Badger (Meles meles) – The European badger is a powerfully built black, white, brown and grey animal with a small head, a stocky body, small black eyes and short tail. It is nocturnal and is a social, burrowing animal that sleeps during the day in one of several setts in its territorial range. Badgers are very fussy over the cleanliness of their burrow, carrying in fresh bedding and removing soiled material, and they defecate in latrines strategically situated around their territory. Miniature: I used a miniature by ToyMany. You can also buy one here on Amazon.
Galway Sheep (Ovis aries) – The Galway is a breed of domestic sheep originating in Galway, in the west of Ireland. They are a large polled white-faced sheep, having a characteristic bob of wool on the head and wool on the legs. The outer lips are of a dark color and dark spots on the ears are common. Miniature: I used a miniature from “Farm” TOOB by Safari, Ltd. You can also buy one here on Amazon.
Border Collie (Phasianus versicolor) – This beautiful dog is a working and herding dog breed developed near the border of Scotland for herding livestock, especially sheep. Today it is also a common breed used in Ireland as well. It was specifically bred for intelligence and obedience. They are often cited as the most intelligent of all domestic dogs. Miniature: I used a miniature by Conversation Concepts you can buy here on Amazon.
I laminated my cards so they would stand up to little fingers.
We talked about each animal, and basic species it was (bird, mammal, reptile, insect, etc). We talked about if it was large or small. My preschooler then matched up the animals with the miniatures. After this we worked on matching the word cards to the animal pictures (I read the word cards to her, since she can’t read yet). What fun to learn about animals that live in other countries! 🙂