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Kim Tomsic

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Classroom Activities for World Elephant Day and National Elephant Appreciation Day with The Elephants of Thula Thula

Hello and Welcome! 🐘

You have arrived at the right spot to find information, a puzzle, or fun projects for your students. I hope you enjoy celebrating two special awareness weeks:

  • August 12, World Elephant Day  
  • September 22, National Elephant Appreciation Day

Here's a list of activity ideas and links. Also, scroll down to find a printable word search puzzle as well as some ecology definitions.

Classroom Activities & Resources


READ: I hope you enjoy reading The Elephants Come Home , a 2024 finalist for several state awards!

LISTEN: Elephant Voices How do elephants communicate with one another? What does the position of their trunks mean? Why do they flap their ears?  What is infrasound? Learn all this and more at “Communication between Elephants Voices and Sounds.” Elephants in Zoo and Circus Elephant Encyclopedia. *Bonus, scroll to the bottom of the page and hear recordings of elephants! https://www.upali.ch/communication_en.html. MORE: Ear flapping. Head Waggling. What does it all mean? Check out Elephant Voices.

WATCH: Elephants aren't puppies yet watch eco-warrior Lawrence Anthony call for the herd featured in The Elephants Come Home(seven-minute YouTube video). 

EXPLORE: The five senses: Would you like to learn more about an elephant’s vision, hearing, or their keen sense of smell?  Check out elephant senses: https://seaworld.org/animals/all-about/elephants/senses/

Warm Blooded vs. Cold Blooded CreaturesAt this link, Sea World features a classroom activity for teachers and students to discuss warm blooded vs. cold blooded animals. Make sure you add elephants to the conversation!

SPELL: Animal Spelling Bee: The SeaWorld website features another fun activity. You can host an  animal-centered spelling bee – just add “elephant” to the list. You’ll discuss words like “conservation”, “habitat”, and more. Consider adding “Zululand, South Africa” to the list, and discuss the difference between a continent and a country.

SCHOOL VISIT: ❤I love chatting with students. Please check out the “Contact” page on my website (KimTomsic.com ) for a full menu of school visit options (live or via Zoom).

MEET: “Meet” the Elephants of Thula Thula (pronounced toola toola). Learn the names of the elephants that live in the wildlife sanctuary.

BECOME AN ECO-WARRIOR: Consider a classroom fundraiser, “Pennies for Protection” and adopt an elephant.

Word Search Puzzle (High-quality Printable version at this link) :


Habitat –A habitat is an environment where an organism lives for normal life and growth. The habitat contains all an animal needs to survive such as food and shelter. 


Biome – biome is a large area characterized by its vegetation, soil, climate, and wildlife.” – National Geographic. A biome is a community made of all the habitats in a region and climate.


Boma“Boma” is a word borrowed from the Swahili language. It is a coral that is built as a space to help animals get used to their new home prior to letting them enjoy the entire wildlife reserve. Read more about bomas and how they are built at Our Planet, My Lens.


Reserve: A “reserve” is a managed area meant to protect wildlife and their habitats. There is no hunting on a wildlife reserve. Lawrence and Francoise Anthony started the wildlife reserve called Thula Thula.   


Thula Thula: Lawrence and Francoise Anthony started the wildlife reserve called Thula Thula. Thula Thula is a Zulu word that means “peace and tranquility”.


Elephants – seven elephants came to Thula Thula. The matriarch’s name is Nana. Her sister’s name is Frankie.


Eco Warrior –someone who makes hands-on effort to protect the environment.


South Africa: South Africa is a country just like the United States is a country. It is located on the continent of Africa.


Province: Some countries are divided into provinces which are, according to Merriam Webster,  “an administrative district or division of a country.”


: From zoomed out to zoomed in (biggest to smallest) here’s where ThulaThula and its elephants are located:

Africa is the continent.

South Africa is one of the 54 countries on the continent of Africa.

KwaZulu-Natal is one of the nine provinces within South Africa.

Zululand is the region in KwaZulu-Natal where the elephants lived on the reserve.

Thula Thula is the game reserve in Zululand where the elephants live.



Awards & Critical Praise

The Elephants Come Home 
by Kim Tomsic illustrated by Hadley Hooper. The amazing true story of a herd of elephants, the man who saved them, and the miracle of love that brought them home. One day in 1999, Lawrence Anthony and Françoise Malby Anthony receive word that a herd of wild African elephants need a new home. They welcome the elephants to their wildlife sanctuary—Thula Thula. But the elephants are much less sure they want to stay. How will Lawrence prove to them that they are safe and loved? What follows is a gorgeously illustrated real-life story of friendship . . . and the story of the miraculous way that love given freely will return—greater and more wonderful than it began. Chronicle Books,  ISBN: 978-1452127835

2022 Norman A. Sugarman Children's Biography Honor 

2022-23 Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Award Primary Grade Winner

2023 Minnesota Comstock-Gág Book Award Winner

2022 Blue Grass Award Finalist

2022-23 Alabama Children’s Choice Camellia Award Finalist grades 2-3

2023-24 California Young Reader Award Finalist

2023-24 Iowa Goldfinch Award Finalist

2024 Utah Beehive Award Finalist

2024 Connecticut Nutmeg Award Finalist

2024 Illinois Bluestem Award Finalist grades 3-5

Resource - free!

Book available for purchase at:

The Wandering Jellyfish: Click Here

Changing Hands Bookstore: Click Here

Barnes and Noble: Click Here

Indiebound (or to check your local bookstore): Click Here

Red Balloon Bookshop: Click Here

Amazon: Click Here

Or simply ask your local bookseller!

Please reach out if you have any questions!

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