Stroller, sunscreen, walking shoes, snacks, sippy cups, diaper bag… we’re moms. We’ve got this, right? Sometimes we do so much to get ready for a trip to the zoo that we forget that the kids need to get ready too. And not just having their favorite sippy cup along. A zoo is a very different and overwhelming environment for kids. They get to see animals that they have adored through books, hear new sounds, be surrounded by hundreds of strangers…. Not to mention dark rooms, real waterfalls and bugs that might land on them. These zoo themed activities will help get your kids ready for the zoo and give you lots of opportunities to talk about what they might encounter in a visit to the zoo.
We recently took a trip to visit our sponsore the Henry Doorley Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska. It is rated as the #1 zoo in the United States by Trip Advisor, so we were expecting it to be pretty amazing.
It definitely was.
My kids were amazed as we saw penguins, lions, jellyfish, snakes, elephants and so much more. Because the buildings vary so much in temperature and humidity make sure that you are wearing easily removable layers. Going from the Amazon rainforest to the icy penguin house can be a bit unpleasant if you can’t get your sweatshirt off or put one on.
My special needs daughter did have a few moments that resulted in some big tears…
Going through the dark passage and under the waterfall in the rainforest exhibit was one of them.
Getting too close to the train when it blew its whistle.
And not wanting to leave.
So just some things to keep in mind if you have a child that is sensitive to loud noises or the dark.
Here are some fun zoo-themed crafts & activities that can help you prepare your child for a trip to the zoo this summer!
Lion & Giraffe Pattern Block Mats from Pre-Kinders to build math skills while learning about animals.
Lion Paper Plate Craft from East Coast Mommy
These Montessori-Inspired Zoo Scavenger Hunts from Every Star is Different are not your traditional scavenger hunts!
Zebra Paper Plate Craft from East Coast Mommy
Learn about animal tracks with this Animal Track Hand Prints activity from Left Brain Craft Brain.
These DIY Safari Binoculars from Arts & Crackers would be so fun to take to the zoo!!
For those who love play dough this Feed the Shark Play Dough Geometry Game from Left Brain Craft Brain would be a good opportunity to talk about the fact that the sharks cannot bite through the glass in the aquarium…seeing a shark up close can be a scary thing!
I love this Colorful Chameleon Craft (love the alliteration!!) from Cutting Tiny Bites
We saw a chameleon at the Omaha zoo and it was so cool!! He was actually brown, so we thought he was something else at first!
Fuzzy Brown Bear from Cutting Tiny Bites
We loved the Penguin building at the Omaha Zoo. They actually have a system that lets out snow from the ceiling to keep the penguins cold and they adjust the lighting in the summer for the penguins and puffins who would naturally be heading into winter.
Check out this fun Frozen Ooblek Sensory Play with Penguins from Messy Little Monster.
Do you have some leftover bubble wrap? Try this Bubble Wrap Giraffe from Crafty Kids at Home.
These animal finger puppets from In the Playroom would a great way to role play different encounters at the zoo.
Use this Zoo animals dice game from Pre-K Pages to talk about how animals move and eat.
This paper bag hippopotamus from I Heart Crafty Things would give you a chance to talk about how big and dangerous hippos really are.
Even though every time I hear the word hippopotamus, I want to sing, “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas…. ” Impress upon your children that this would not be a good idea. *wink*
Here are some great books to read before your zoo visit. They give lots of opportunities to talk about what is real and what is pretend.
And then check out some videos like this:
Planning for an Animal Theme? We’ve done all the work for you!
We now have interactive thematic lesson plans for toddlers (18-35 months) AND preschoolers (3-5 years)! Get ready for fun and learning with unit lesson plans for your ANIMAL THEME. Explore a variety of themed hands-on activities! Easy to follow lesson plans include activity modifications and adaptations to meet the needs of all learners. For more information, click on the graphics below: