I thought I fancied myself a knowledgeable fan of animals; I read “Ranger Rick” magazines as a kid, I rejoiced in visits to the Zoo Atlanta, and I watched VHS tapes of National Geographic’s “Really Wild Animals” relentlessly.
So when I started to compile an animal image encyclopedia for the 4th graders to use in their printmaking project, I thought I was well prepared—I thought I was MORE than prepared. I mean… my image file was so well fortified it included animals like the kinkajou and the hoatzin.
Do you know what a hoatzin is?
I was positive I would be ready when the kids were told they could choose any animals they wanted to draw for their project.
At least, I thought I was.
One student in particular came up to me and asked, “Do you have any pictures of a binturong?”
And that wasn’t the end of it…
“Okay, Ms. Chamberlain, what about a nautilus?”
“Does that live in the ocean?”
I ended up adding more than 10 new animals, all of whom I had never even heard:
I have been inspired to continue expanding my animal file instead of resting on knowledge from my childhood. The file now contains 334 species of animals. I owe its constant growth and my continued interest to one student and his remarkable expertise.
Learner, Thinker, Writer: Nina Chamberlain serves Trinity School as an Art Teacher.