As part of our August Calendar, we celebrate World Orangutan Day and help children learn about these endangered "gardeners of the forest" and super fruit eaters. To make the learning even more personal, we move, vocalize and feast like orangutans, too.
Step 1: Learn about Orangutans
- Check out the Orangutan Facts page on National Geographic Kids
- Watch and learn how orphaned baby orangutans are learning to swing and return to the wild on National Geographic (requires free subscription)
- Learn more about these amazing animals and what we can (and must) do to protect their species from World Wildlife Fund.
Step 2: Move like Orangutans. Orangutans move on all fours on the ground, so hop on down and crawl about or challenge yourselves to walk using hands and feet, if you are able. Orangutans also use their long arms to climb and swing through the trees, so any chance to swing from a tree branch, monkey bars on the playground or even a strong adult's extended arm could qualify as orangutan play!
Orangutans also gather and layer together leaves, brush and fallen limbs to make beds for sleeping at night. Encourage kids to do the same to create a cozy place to rest, read a book or just snuggle and hang out.
Step 3: Communicate like Orangutans. Orangutans use vocalizations to communicate, but researchers have found that the majority of their communication is accomplished through non-verbal gestures. Have some fun using very few or even no vocalizations to communicate as you play. Or, if you typically use sign language to communicate, consider that orangutans often put a lot of spirit behind their gestures and have fun making your signs and other gestures with gusto.
Step 4: Feast like Orangutans. Orangutans eat a higher percentage of fruit than any other mammal—true fruit lovers! Take a trip to the farm or grocery store and shop like orangutans, looking at all of the sweet-smelling, colorful fruit nature provides. Pick a few fruits to take home to prepare a fruit feast. Include a few of your favorites. Try a fruit you've never tried before. Or, go by color and pick a rainbow of fruits!
Welcome kids to help you wash, prep and cut up fruits to make a fruit platter or salad. Arrange them in a design or even in a way that makes a picture (e.g. a face, a creature, a favorite shape, a rainbow or other object your child loves).
Step 5: Share and raise awareness. Share something you've learned or photos of your Orangutan play or picnic to help others learn more about these special and endangered creatures. Tag @tinkergarten or share in our free Outdoors All 4 Facebook Group, and you'll raise awareness among an even wider community of nature-loving families! The more we celebrate and learn about the living things of our world, the more our kids will attach and naturally become part of saving them!
Why is this activity great for kids?
Not only will you pique kids' curiosity and awareness about these most special primates, the chance to pretend, move our bodies and communicate in novel ways helps build creativity, cognitive flexibility, motor skills and communication skills—not bad for a little monkeying around! Feasting on the fruits of summer also dazzles kids' senses and promotes healthy eating habits. Hurrah!