Zoo Story

Sit in a circle on the floor. Hold a small ball and begin a story about going to the zoo. Roll the ball to another child and have them add something to the story. Then have them roll the ball to another child. Continue until time runs out. If you notice one child not getting a turn, have them roll the ball to you and after your turn you can roll the ball to the child who is being left out. Record the stories if possible and play them during closing circle.


talks about personal situations

takes turns listening and speaking

Favorite Zoo Animal Graph

Prepare a chart with 5-6 zoo animal pictures across the top. Be sure to choose a variety of the most popular types of animals. Spend a few minutes talking about each animal and let the children tell you something about each one. Then give the children a label with their name on it and have them place their name under the animal they like the best out of all of them. Be sure to ask why they choose that particular animal. In closing circle, show the graph and count how many liked each animal.


expresses feelings verbally

participates in group discussion

takes turns listening and speaking

Stuffed Animal Petting Zoo

Have the children bring in their favorite stuffed animal. Give each child a chance to act as zoo keeper as they tell about their animal: what they eat, where they live, etc. Allow the children time to pass around their animals and see how others in the group take care of someone else's animal.


show respect for others and their property

listens to others who are speaking

Natural Habitats in the Zoo

Set up a few shelves or cots to block off a small area in your large group space. Then put a few toys, books and activities outside the closed off area. Have one child go in the closed in area. After each child has spent about a minute in the closed off area ask them to talk about how it felt to be in a closed area without anything fun to play with. How did it feel to get out of that area? How could we make the closed area more interesting? (make it bigger, place fun objects inside it) Show pictures of zoo cages and talk about how animals would feel if they stayed in the cages all day. What could zoo keepers do to make an animals' habitat more interesting?


attempts to explain the causes of others feelings

examines situations from another perspective

Zoo Play

Have children bring in stuffed animals today. Have children help design a habitat for their animal by making trees, water, food etc. with markers and paper. During afternoon center time, arrange the room into small areas and have the children place their animals and the items they made. Then invite some of the other classrooms and teachers to your zoo! You could pre-make tickets and maps and pop popcorn or make snow cones or other treats. Your children can do zoo jobs such as taking kids around and talking about the animals or serving refreshments. This is a great way to end your unit on the Zoo and can be a memorable experience for all!


works as a member of a group

understands roles of people in society

Animal Sign Language

Teach the children hand signs for some of the more popular zoo animals. Use the signs in a song or story where each time you come to a part in the story the children do the sign for the animal you are talking about.

American Sign Language Resource Site
Lesson Tutor


adjusts well to new situations

takes pride in own accomplishments

Zoo Animal Musical Chairs

Play like regular musical chairs, but have the children walk around with stuffed animals and place them in the chairs instead of themselves. When their stuffed animal is out have them sit with it until the game is over. Then have an animal snack to celebrate.


recognizes and manages own feelings

follows rules

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Give each child a chance to be the 'head monkey'. That child thinks of something really silly to do and the other children try to mimic her. Then the head monkey picks the best mimicker to be the next leader. Remember that if teachers play too they usually get picked and then the teacher will get a chance to pick a child that may not have had a turn yet.


demonstrates self-direction

expresses own interests

Dangerous Animals

Show pictures of different animals and talk about why they are dangerous when found in the wild. Discuss how zoo keepers stay safe when they are tending to these wild animals. Children can draw pictures of their favorite dangerous animal while you are discussing them.


understands the need for safe conduct

Elephant Trunk Pick-up

Draw a large elephant head on a piece of cardboard. Cut a 4-inch hole where the trunk should be. Punch holes around the edge of the opening and 'sew' the open end of a long tube sock (gray if possible) to the cardboard. Children can stick their hand into the sock and pretend to be the trunk of an elephant. Take turns rolling a dice and using the elephant trunk to pick up that many real peanuts (or use cutouts if you have someone allergic to peanuts.)


picks up small objects

Walk Like the Animals

Bring familiar animal pictures to group. Choose one animal and talk about it. Ask the children to look at specific body parts and describe them. Ask them to describe how that animal would move and why. Then give each child a chance to demonstrate how they think that animal moves. This would be a great day to show a video about the zoo and follow up this activity with it. Then children can see if their theories about how animals move were correct.


aware of body parts

moves in different ways

What Am I? Riddles

Describe an animal and have the children take turns trying to guess which animal it is. For younger children have pictures for them to point to. Older children can try to guess from memory. Also, try to give one clue at a time and see how many clues it takes before they can guess it.


answers questions

recalls information

Animal Name Sounds

Group toy animals by how many syllables there are in the name or by animals that start with the same sound (not letter). To do syllables, say the name slowly and have the children clap everytime they say a sound like "li-on" is two. To group by initial sounds say the two animals and ask them to watch your mouth to see if it does the same thing each time like "m-onkey, m-oose". Younger children may need you to say the words a few times, cutting the word each time until all you have left is the initial sound, like: monkey-moose, monk-moo, m-m.


recognizes letter sounds

divides words into syllable sounds

Brown Bear Animal Book

Staple several papers together to make a blank book. Glue one animal picture onto each page and write the name of the animal near it. Pass the book around as you sing the "Brown Bear" song. Sing: "Kari, Kari what do you see?" and she turns the page and sings "I see a monkey looking at me" and then passes the book to the next person. Watch for children turning the pages in the right direction. If you have time, pass the book around again and have them say the letter the words start with instead of the animal name "I see a M looking at me".


knows reading progression

recognizes letters and familiar words

Zoo Maps

Bring a detailed zoo map to look at. Give each child a small toy person to move about on the map. Ask children to place their person on different locations as you describe them. Be sure to use words such as under, next to, near, beside, etc. to help children learn what these positional words are. Have fun with it and talk about what the child may do when he/she gets where he is going: "put your person on the lion cage, but don't get too close!"; "go to the food stand next to the penguins and order a hot dog", etc.


uses words to describe position and direction

Peek a Zoo

Prepare a manila file folder by cutting different size square doors in the front. Place a picture of a zoo animal in the folder. Open one door and allow the children time to talk about what they see and what the animal might be. Then close that door and open another door. Continue until someone guesses what the animal is. Talk about how the child knew what to guess and why certain parts of the picture helped them figure it out.


puts together puzzles

investigates putting two or more shapes together

Cookie Cutter Shadow Match

Trace animal cookie cutters onto black construction paper and cut out the shapes. glue these onto a file folder and cover with clear shelf paper or laminate. Children choose a cookie cutter randomly, name the animal or tell something about that animal, and place on the correct shadow. Have one or two cookie cutters that do not have shadows to make the game more interesting.


matches objects that are alike

sorts objects by attributes

Animal Footprints

The day before group, use a set of large plastic animals to make footprints on different pieces of paper with paint. During group time encourage the children to work together to find out which footprints belong to which animals. Help the children brainstorm how they could find out the answers. The allow them to experiment with those ideas. Younger children may need some hints or suggestions.


makes observations using senses and tools

uses scientific words and phrases