Get free weekly activities like this, straight to your inbox. Sign up now

A Hare-y Hideout

Age: 3 to 8+ Time: 1 hour+
Materials: books (optional), stuffed animal
Skills: Creativity, Imagination, Empathy, Persistence & Grit

There’s nothing like bunnies to help you grab kids’ attention and inspire hard work and creativity. And you don't have to be a rabbit expert to make this happen for your kids. If you know a local spot where rabbits hang, take kids outside and simply observe them in action. Read a poem or story about rabbits and how they live. If you have a few kids on your hands, play a little Bunny, Bunny, Fox (extremely similar to Duck, Duck, Goose).

Then, find your way to the edge of a field or meadow. Imagine along with kids that it is dusk and a hungry fox is coming. Challenge kids to build a safe hideout for a bunny, using a stuffed animal or bunny sized object as a model. Support them as they gather materials and test out different designs, placing the “bunny” in each new home. Can the home they make keep the bunny out of sight? Can she get in and out easily and without making too much noise? Can the home stand up to wind and rain?

Give kids time to craft a structure or two. Try to let them generate the ideas and lend your skills to help them realize their plans. Talk with them about what works and what doesn't in each design. Watch and enjoy as they take the perspective of another living thing and work tirelessly to build a good home for their bunny.

The Guide

  1. Watch bunnies in action: Fortunately, over half of the world’s bunny population resides in North America. Rabbits live in meadows, forests, wetlands, grasslands and even deserts. If you have a garden, you may know all too well that there are bunnies around. Popular prey, rabbits spend most of the day underground. They are most active early and late in the day, especially along the fringes of fields and roadside cover, where thick vegetation provides relatively safe feeding.
  2. Read about bunnies: If you can find one, read a story that stars rabbits and gives kids a greater sense of how rabbits live. Here are a few examples: The poems, They Are Sleeping and He as well as the section Rabbits and Foxes in Joyce Sidman's beautiful Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow; Home for a Bunny written by Margaret Wise Brown (author of Goodnight Moon and The Big Red Barn); Mel Boring’s Rabbits, Squirrels, And Chipmunks: Take Along Guide.
  3. Play a quick game of Bunny, Bunny, Fox!: Playing a game can help even the smallest child understand the predator/prey relationship between foxes and bunnies, an idea central to this activity. You’ll need 4+ kids to play. Just like Duck, Duck, Goose, but the child who taps heads is a bunny. She says, "Bunny" each time until she taps someone on the head and says, “Fox!” That “fox” chases her around the circle and back to her seat. To add a twist, have the “bunny” and “fox” try to run in a zig-zag formation, since that is how rabbits move to escape from predators.
  4. Set up the challenge: Grab the stuffed animal you brought along and suggest, “Let’s pretend this is a real bunny. And, let's say it’s getting late in the day. A hungry fox is on his way. What could happen to the bunny? What kind of hideout would a bunny like to have to escape from the fox? What kind of home or hide out can we build for this bunny to keep it safe?"
  5. Set criteria: Chat a bit to generate a list of the criteria needed for a good house. Some examples: big enough to fit the bunny; easy for the bunny to get in and out of; bunny can’t be seen from the outside; withstands wind, rain, etc.
  6. Guide as they build: Let kids drive as much of this as they can, given their age and capacities. But, what does that look like? Support your child but in such a way that he has the experience of being in command and following his own imagination. Ask him questions about his plan. Help to gather the materials he has decided to use and suggest new ideas for materials. Tell him that you are happy to help if something is too challenging to lift, place or move. Remind him about the criteria for what makes a good bunny house. The important thing is that you and your child both feel that he or she is master of the mission.
  7. Involve younger siblings (ages 2-4): Welcome them to gather materials, help the team arrange the materials, test the design and make adjustments.

Since examples often help, to follow are three approaches that kids in our classes tried:

  • Use the hole in the bottom of a tree and cover it with branches, greens, etc.

  • Make a small lean-to against a tree using sticks covered with leaves and grasses

  • Dig a hole and build a stick and mud roof over the hole

Why is this activity great for kids?

By challenging kids to design a home for a real creature and test it out using a stuffed animal, you give them the chance to practice both the imagining and the doing and, more importantly, to develop their creativity.

This activity is a great way to build persistence and a sense of the value of hard work. The solution is not obvious. The materials are not included. Kids need to think, plan, gather, haul, arrange, dig, and stick with it until they find a solution that works. In the end, kids experience genuine satisfaction, and yours will be praise well spent.

Finally, kids can read books and web sites or watch videos and shows about rabbits. They can even listen to a naturalist or inspiring teacher tell them about the creatures and how they live. But, nothing can compare to getting outside and taking the perspective of the animal. First, it is quite a workout for their imaginations. Perhaps even more, though, this kind of personal, direct experience helps kids build their own life as a naturalist. It also helps them make sense of major science concepts like predator/prey relationships and camouflage more, better preparing them to apply the concepts in new situations and more formally as they progress in school.

 

Do This Activity In A Class

Expert led
EXPERT LED
Classes are led by well-trained, certified, and supported leaders from your community.
CONNECTION
Come together with like-minded community members and same-aged children.
DEEP LEARNING
Kids build foundational cognitive, social and emotional, and physical skills with an expert-designed curriculum.
Not in Virginia?

Do It Yourself

We think all families should be learning outside. Try this activity with your child and begin to see the power in outdoor, play-based learning. Have fun!

Email it to me