Lake Manyara is sometimes referred to as the “Little Big Park”. Located in Tanzania, it covers an area of 95 square miles. More than 300 species of birds flock to this body of water, most of them looking for food or places to build their nests.
There are many other animals in Manyara, most importantly, the hippopotamus! When a hippopotamus enters the water, their eyes and ears stick up so they can be alert to all around them. Under their big imposing noses, their wide mouths are ideal for grazing on the grasses growing in the meadows around the lake.
They keep their mouths open, but they’ve got a good reason. It’s all about comparing the sizes of their jaws, since a hippo’s jaws are what establish its position on the social scale. Their large eyeteeth also play an important role in the struggles and rituals within the social group. Using a few natural materials, we created our own version of Lake Manyara.
Though you cannot see it, we used a liner that was placed into a hole in the front yard. Students then filled this hole with water and placed rocks around it to hold the liner in place. Lastly, your little ones submerged their hippos in the water alongside their friends! As a result of this activity, we learned some new vocabulary to help us with our hippo theme! These words included sink, jaws, and herd.