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True or False: Elephants love peanuts.
From their thick skin to their amazing tusks, elephants have captured the hearts of kids and adults all over the world. The giant mammals are not only the largest land animal but their trunks alone can weigh over 400 pounds!
Join us as we celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day on September 22nd with a ton of fun elephant unit study.
- There are only 2 main types of elephants: African Elephants and Asian Elephants. The African Elephant is larger than the Asian, standing at 12 feet tall, with a flat head. It also is a darker color and has more wrinkles. If you are having trouble distinguishing the difference, look at their ears. The African Elephant has ears that are shaped like the continent Africa, while the Asian Elephant’s ears are shaped more like India.
- While elephants are HUGE animals, weighing in at about 15,000 pounds, they are not nearly as big as a blue whale. In fact, a blue whale’s tongue weighs as much as a full grown African elephant!
- The typical elephant lives to be 60-80 years old. They spend the days walking around (at a pace of 4 mph!) and eating. They can eat up to 600 pounds of food daily and drink 80 liters of water. They are herbivores, so they eat a lot of trees, roots, branches and fruits. They spend about 16 hours a day simply eating!
- After all of that eating, the elephants must be tired. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a long nap after a delicious meal? However, elephants only sleep for 2-3 hours a day!
- Many people believe that elephants are scared of mice and that is simply not true. However, they are scared of bees and ants.
- Elephants communicate by touch. The older elephants discipline their young by using their trunk. They often show several emotions and even cry, laugh and play. They can even recognize themselves in a mirror!
- An elephant’s closest relative is the rock hyrax.
- Elephants have thick, wrinkly skin that sunburns easily. To prevent sunburns, elephants dig into the mud and cover their bodies in it. They also toss sand onto their back and head to keep the sun at bay.
- Elephants have long been hunted for their tusks. However, their tusks are much more important to elephants than they are to man. Elephants use tusks to dig, lift, move objects and for certain mating rituals. Just as humans prefer one hand over the other, elephants also prefer one tusk.
- An elephant’s trunk has over 40,000 muscles in it. Elephants love to swim and their trunk acts as a snorkel while they splash around. The trunk alone weighs a whopping 400 pounds but is still precise enough to pick up a single grain of rice.
- Elephants have the longest gestation period of all mammals. They are pregnant for 22 months! Elephants continue to have babies until they are 50 years old. While newborn elephants are blind at birth, they do have a very keen sense of smell. Elephant’s eyesight doesn’t improve much over the years. Their small, beady eyes result in very poor vision.
- Elephants can’t jump, trot or gallop!
- Elephants live in groups of 15 elephants who are all related. They are led by a matriarch. Between the ages of 12-15, male elephants leave the group and join an all male group.
- While most mammals have a set of baby teeth that is replaced with a set of permanent teeth, elephants have rotating teeth. New brick-like teeth form in the back of their mouths, pushing the other teeth forward and causing the front teeth to fall out. Each elephant goes through 6 sets of new teeth in their lifetime. Each set of teeth is slightly bigger than the last, with the elephant’s final set of teeth being about 8 inches tall and weighing 8 pounds each. Older elephants, who have weaker teeth, move to marshy areas, where the grass is wet, making it easier to eat. Once they’ve lost all their teeth, elephants die from malnutrition or starvation.
- Elephants purr like kittens!
Snack: Little ones will enjoy creating these fun elephant biscuits, from Brie Brie Bloom, to go along with the unit study. Add some fruit to snack on, just like real elephants.
Experiment: Have some fun with this “Elephant Toothpaste” experiment, from our favorite science guru, Steve Spangler! We love any experiment which requires only a few supplies.
Art: Learn to draw an elephant with the folks at Art Hub for Kids. We love drawing along with them since tey make it so easy to understand and breaks it down into bite size pieces.
Movies Available on Netflix: Elephant: Spy in the Herd, Tyke Elephant Outlaw
Movies Available on Amazon Prime: Elephants, Elephants the Whole Story, Echo of the Elephants: The Next Generation, Nourished by the Same River- Man and Elephant.
Handprint Art: This adorable handprint art is one of the many projects we love from Red Ted Art. Simple to create and a great keepsake for years to come!
Game: Elephant Trunk Race: Line plastic bottles of water into 2 rows with 5 or more bottles in each row. Grab 2 pair of pantyhose and place a tennis ball into one leg of each pair, near the toe. Have 2 people place the pantyhose on their heads. Use the leg and tennis ball like an elephant uses its trunk, trying to swing the ball to knock over the bottles. Whoever knocks down each bottle in their row first is the winner.
Books: This easy to read book by Usborne Books and More offers answers to all of your elephant questions. For only $4.99, it’s a treasure that’s necessary on every homeschool bookshelf.
Whether you’re celebrating Elephant Appreciation Day or just want to learn more about these fascinating beasts, studying elephants is guaranteed to make you fall in love with them!