We're unschooling, and my 5 1/2-year-old daughter is very into animals. She couldn't care less about people or dolls; animals are it for her. Her first words were "woof" and "meow" and then soon "dog" and "cat." Now she's learning to spell dog and cat.
We read books about animals and play games involving themabout them, and through them she is learning to read, learning math, learning geography, learning biology, learning about the environment, and learning social studies.
We go to the library, and she and I both pick out books for her. I also order (used from half.com) books that I think she would enjoy. She's been into this series of books that the library has about different animals that's a little old for her, but we go through and look at the pictures I read bits and pieces of the text.
One of our favorite books that we have at home is Animal Hide And Seek
. Between this and a Magic Schoolbus book and a few other sources, she has become fascinated with animal habitats, particularly Africa. We have a globe, and she is fascinated with it and tells me where various animals live on the globe. Her interest in habitats geography has then made her interested what the lives of the people who live in these areas are like, and we've been learning about that through Children Just Like Me
. She's especially fascinated with one of the girls who lives in Africa. In this same vein we also listen to world music or sometimes make ethnic meals.
We have a children's animal encyclopedia that's not bad, but I think there are probably better ones out there. She spends a lot of time with her head in ours and asks me to read parts to her.
We take videos out of the library and rent them from the video store. Some particularly good ones we've found are the childrens ones put out by National Geographic. We have seen ones from two series, GeoKids and Really Wild Animals. The Eyewitness videos are good too.
We also have some games. Two that we really enjoy are Explore! Photo Safari (sorry, can't find a link) and Aristoplay's Quick Pix Animals
. We also make up games. For example, if we're in on a train or in a car, we'll pretend we're driving through the rainforest or through Australia, or through some other habitat, and we'll shout out all the animals we "see." Or we might pretend we are certain animals, and we'll talk about where we live, what we eat, etc.
Then of course there's trips to the zoo and the Natural History Museum and magazines and websites.
I know this all sounds like we're busy doing things and even might sound like I'm doing stuff for her, but really it comes naturally. She's just fascinated by animals, so we go with it. I've always read books to my girls when we go to bed, so sometimes we read books about animals. We all like to play games, so sometimes we play games about animals. When the kids are getting antsy in the car, and I'm trying to think of something to entertain them, a safari game makes a lot of sense. If we're thinking about something to do with dh on a weekend, a trip to a museum makes as much sense as anything else. She's outgrown the computer games she has, so for her next one I'll look for something relating to animals.
BTW, my 3 1/2 year old enjoys all of this too, and we are also not obsessed with animals. We talk about/learn about a lot of other things as well.
I don't think there's anything wrong, as an unschooler, in asking "would you be interested in doing such and such?" or offering to read books or play games, especially if your child has shown interest in the topic. It wouldn't be unschooling, however, if you forced these things on them. You might also want to go tounschooling.com
for more support and ideas.