From the freezing tundra to the scorching desert and even in the ocean, mammals can be found all over the world. Some of the most well-known mammals include cats, dogs, bears, monkeys, whales – and humans! In this blog post, we’ve gathered a variety of resources to support a unit focused on learning about mammals. With fun facts and books plus curriculum ideas, printables, and crafts, we’ve got you covered! Check out the resources and ideas below.
One defining characteristic of mammals is that they are warm-blooded, which means they can regulate their body temperature internally. This allows them to thrive in many different environments. Mammals are also covered in fur or hair, which helps them stay warm or cool, depending on the temperature. All mammals breathe oxygen from air – even mammals who spend their entire lives in the water, like whales and dolphins.
Rather than laying eggs, mammals give birth to live young (with two fascinating exceptions – the echidna and the platypus). Mammals also have the special ability to produce milk to feed their offspring.
Ranging from tiny to enormous, mammals can be small enough to fit into the palm of your hand or larger than a bus! Mammals have adapted to many different habitats and have developed unique features that help them survive in their environments.
Learning about mammals can help children understand the range of animal adaptations, the diversity of life on Earth, and the importance of preserving different species and their habitats. It can also inspire a lifelong love of animals and a desire to protect the natural world.
Mammals: Fun Facts for Kids
- Flying squirrels are nocturnal mammals that can glide through the air for up to 300 feet using a special flap of skin between their legs called a patagium.
- Armadillos are mammals with a unique defense mechanism – they can roll themselves up into a ball, just like a pillbug!
- Beavers are expert builders. They can construct dams that are several feet high and hundreds of feet long. Beavers use these dams to block the flow of water and create ponds or slow-moving streams, which provide a habitat for many other animals.
- Kangaroos are excellent jumpers and can travel up to 30 feet in a single leap. They also use their tails like a fifth leg for balance and support.
- Dolphins are mammals that live in the ocean, and they are known for their playful behavior and intelligence. They can also swim at speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph)!
- The echidna, also known as the spiny anteater, is a mammal that lays eggs instead of giving birth to live young. It’s one of only two mammals in the world that does this (the other is the platypus).
- The sperm whale – a type of mammal that lives in the ocean – has the largest brain of any animal on Earth, weighing up to 20 pounds!
- Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world, and they love to swim! They can hold their breath for up to 5 minutes underwater.
- Pygmy marmosets are one of the smallest primates in the world, weighing around 4 ounces. They live in the rainforests of South America and communicate using high-pitched trills and calls.
- Humans are mammals too! We share many traits with other mammals, such as producing milk to nurse our young, having hair or fur on our bodies, and being warm-blooded.
Books and Materials for Learning About Mammals
- About Mammals by Cathryn Sill
- Mammals: A Question and Answer Book by Isabel Martin
- Life-Sized Animal Tracks (featuring mammals and reptiles) by John Townsend
- Woodland Mammals Puzzle from Mirus Toys (realistic illustrations plus animal tracks and a simple label under each puzzle piece)
Trillium Resources for Learning About Mammals
- The Mammals Preschool Pack has a variety of early learning activities, including math, language, and sensorial printables.
- Did you know that bats are the only flying mammal? Be sure to grab this free Types of Bats 3-part-card set from the Trillium Resource Library
Printables for Learning About Mammals
- Mammals Printable Pack from Every Star is Different
- Mammals Poster from I Believe in Montessori
- Adult and Baby Farm Animals Matching Flash Cards from The Chatty Kinder (10+ mammal examples in this set)
- Nomenclature Cards for Parts of a Deer, Hedgehog, Kangaroo, and more from Montessori Soul
- Squirrel Life Cycle Activities from Welcome to Mommyhood (also in the Hands-on Kids Activities club membership)
Mammal-Themed Art Activities
- Tips for Observational Drawing with Young Children from How We Montessori. Try this with a model of a mammal or even a printed photograph of a mammal; if you have access to a living mammal in a contained habitat – such as a guinea pig, rabbit, or mouse – you might consider setting up an observational drawing activity near the animal’s habitat.
- Tiger Print Marble Painting This could also work for zebra print!
- Cat Symmetry Drawing Activity from Art for Kids
PS – Check out my Mammals Unit Pinterest board for even more ideas!
Holly Earnest is a content writer on the Trillium team. After eight years in the classroom and another 2.5 as a center director, Holly transitioned from full-time campus life to focus on supporting Montessori educators and caring for family. She is AMS-credentialed at the primary level, and enjoys coaching Montessori guides, creating Montessori training materials, and presenting at Montessori conferences.