- Books about zoo animals, including At the Zoo by Dawn Sirett and Beth Landis (DK Publishing, 2003), Touch and Feel: Wild Animals (DK Publishing, 1998), and 1,2,3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle (Putnam Juvenile, 1998)
- Chart paper, markers, adult scissors
- Art materials, including large sheets of drawing paper, markers, crayons, tempera paint, and brushes
- Language development
- Science concepts
In Advance: Plan a trip to a local zoo to connect classroom learning with a real-life experience. If this is not possible, take the class on an online visit to a zoo with an interactive Web site.
Develop a language experience chart to find out what children already know about zoo animals. Encourage them to think about why we have zoos and why people like to visit them. Ask questions to stimulate conversation, such as “Why can’t we keep a lion or an elephant in our home?”
Read books about zoo animals and discuss the ideas presented. Talk about the differences and similarities between animals, including their sizes, their bodies and markings, and how they use different body parts to move or eat. Create additional charts to record facts that children learned or invite them to share what they liked about a particular book.
Develop a list of all the zoo animals children have learned about. Provide time for them to draw pictures of their favorites, and hang their animals up around the room to create your own classroom zoo.
Invite each child to dictate information about her animal. Cut out the animals and display them, along with their accompanying dictations, around the classroom.
Remember: You may want to have old magazines with pictures of zoo animals available for children who do not want to draw one themselves.
Family Favorites. Invite children to choose four or five zoo animals to include on a simple survey to find out their family members’ favorites. Photocopy the survey and send it home with each child, along with a note explaining the purpose of the activity. Develop a bar graph with the class to determine the most popular zoo animals.
Curriculum Connection: Math, Music, and Dramatic Play
More Zoo Learning. To encourage math learning, develop a bar graph to document children’s favorite zoo animals. Collect recorded songs about zoo animals and teach them to the class. Help children create “animal dances” to accompany the songs. Invite them to bring in stuffed zoo animals to use in the dramatic-play area or make paper bag or sock zoo animal puppets.
Feeding Time at the Zoo
by Sherry Shahan
(Random House, 2000)
Zoo Do’s and Don’ts
by Todd Parr
(Little, Brown & Co., 2000)
by Mem Fox