The equally heartbreaking and heartwarming story of the hairy-nosed wombat who wakes up with an itchy butt can open children’s (and adults’) eyes to the consequences of human interference in animal habitats. After discovering that all his favourite butt scratching places have disappeared due to human activity, the wombat is devastated when he finds his burrow bulldozed on his return. Luckily, another wombat appears and takes him to a sanctuary, where he can finally scratch his itchy butt.
The sense of humour makes this dark tale of destruction a bit easier to handle for young children. They can try to think of their own environments from a wombat’s perspective. Are there any good scratching places nearby? Where could their burrows be? Do they have access to water? Are there any busy roads they need to cross? After experiencing the world from the wombat’s perspective, the children could now think about how animals and humans could live together. What could humans do to keep animals happy? What could the children do to help?
It would be no surprise if the children wanted to discuss the wombat’s itchy butt in more detail. Why do we sometimes feel an itch? What does scratching do? Have the children seen their pets scratch themselves? How do they do it? Do they know any animals who help each other scratch? How do humans scratch themselves? How do we scratch hard-to-reach areas of our bodies?
As always, discussing a children’s book could take you into all kinds of explorations. The children may be drawn in by the funny noises the wombat makes in the story. There’s a whole lot of grunting, snorting and huffing going on. Have they ever heard a wombat? What noises did it make? What other animal noises do they know? Can they hear any animals when they close their eyes?
With our book recommendations, we want to spark an interest in children to discover STEM in their everyday lives. Most books go beyond the obvious STEM connections and can be a great starting point for exploring children’s questions and ideas further.
Learn more: Book a STEM workshop.
Article author: Kerstin Johnson
Content Editor & Resources Developer
With many years’ experience developing educational materials for print and online publishing, Kerstin aims to use her editing and writing skills to produce engaging and user-friendly content across all our platforms.