It’s not every day that you can take your kids to another continent to explore the wildlife… Okay, maybe on the “next to never” plan of events. I’m so thankful for our zoos that allow our kids to learn about animals that they would never see in their daily life. This printable zoo animal pattern block activity for preschool is a great way to start the conversation about some of the animals that they will see on trip to the zoo. Working on fine motor skills, visual discrimination and scanning are also great bonuses for this fun preschool activity.
Zoo Activities for Preschoolers
Doing zoo activities with your preschoolers is a great way to teach them about the world outside of their little zone. Most preschoolers don’t understand the concept of city, state, country, let alone the fact that there are entire oceans that separate them from other parts of the world.
As you are learning about individual zoo animals through conversation, books and activities, you can discuss the natural habitats of the animals in the zoo and expand your preschooler’s thinking beyond their natural living space.
Visiting the Zoo with Preschoolers
Plus, I believe that teaching preschoolers about animals that live in the zoo is also a great way to build empathy and an understanding of why it is so important for us to take care of the world around us and why we should protect endangered animals.
We try to make a visit to our nearest zoo at least once a year. Some of our favorites have been the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C., Henry Doorley Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska and my kids have even been to a couple of zoos in Eastern Europe.
As we get ready to make our trip to the zoo, I like to incorporate activities about zoo animals for my youngest daughter. I do have teens and tweens (how did that happen!?!?!) who are animal lovers and enjoy doing their own research on their favorite animals. Even for teens, a trip to the zoo can inspire them to a future career because there are so many pieces to providing a safe world for those beautiful animals.
I also have a special needs 8 year old, who loves learning about animals, so I created this set of free printable zoo animal pattern block mats for her.
Fine Motor Activities for Preschool
Building fine motor skills is super important for her because she has Rett Syndrome. Most kids with Rett Syndrome are not able to use their hands in any meaningful way.
Shiloh actually has great fine motor skills considering her diagnosis, but it is important to us to continue to work on them, so that we can hopefully prevent some of the regression that is commonly seen in girls with Rett Syndrome.
So I love using activities like these pattern block mats for our zoo animal theme because she can work on her fine motor skills and several other skills at the same time.
Free Therapy Activity for Special Needs Kids
These free printable pattern block activities can also be used to work on:
Visual discrimination skills:
- Which picture is different?
- Mark the shapes that you use.
- Matching pattern block pieces to the image on the mat
Fine motor skills:
- Picking up the pattern block pieces
- Placing the pattern block shapes onto the correct place on the pattern block mat
- Pre-writing skills by crossing off the matching shapes and circling the picture that does not match
Visual Scanning Strength
- Scan the image to find the matching pattern block pieces
- Scan the set of three images to find which picture does not match
- Scan the shape images at the bottom of the page and the zoo animal image to find matching shapes
Make Differentiation Easy
For us these are skills that we work on daily. But you are probably already working on these essential skills with your preschoolers without a lot of extra effort.
Even if you are not working with kids who have special needs, these pattern block mats are a great way to continue to build on these essential skills that kids will need throughout their life!
These free printable zoo animal pattern block mats will just add to your awesomeness!
We have discovered over the last few months that visual scanning strength can be directly related to Shiloh’s ability to stay focused on an activity and seem to be a big reason why she struggles so much with things like one-to-one correspondence when counting because her eyes need to stay focused on the items.
We’ve been going to vision therapy for six weeks, but Shiloh hates it with a passion because it makes her eyes so tired.
These zoo animal pattern mats are like a dose of magical medicine for us. It’s ‘occupational therapy’ that doesn’t create a battle of wills because she thinks they are so fun! And I love that she gets to work on so many of her trouble areas through play!
I hope you will enjoy them too!
Pair the zoo animal pattern block mats with these great Zoo Books for preschoolers!
The View At The Zoo1, 2, 3 to the Zoo: A Counting BookCurious George Goes to the Zoo with downloadable audioAnimal Strike at the Zoo. It’s True!The Pajama Zoo Parade: The Funniest Bedtime ABC Book (The Funniest ABC Books)Good Night, Gorilla