Preschoolers love animals.  The more they see the better.  When you take your child to the zoo, look for learning opportunities during and after your visit.


Art Skills – Activities such as, painting gray elephant shapes, making animal masks and modeling favorite animals from clay all help young children develop early art skills.

Science Skills – Watching wild animals in their natural habitats, teaches preschoolers beginning science skills, such as observation and classification.  Children can also observe likes and differences between a variety of animals.

Math Skills – Counting animals is fun at the zoo.  Children can also observe size and relationships between animals.

Social Skills – Petting zoos are especially nice for teaching young children how to care for and respect all living creatures.

Imagination Skills – A visit to the zoo invariably leads to follow-up play of acting like the zoo animals.

Coordination Skills – Activities such as squirting water like an elephant, running like an antelope, climbing like a monkey, all help young children develop muscle coordination.

Language Skills – A trip to the zoo often develops an interest in story books about animals.  Not only will children be developing their language skills through literature but they will be developing their listening skills as well.

Music & Movement Skills – Singing songs about animals, talking and moving like them, can help children develop rhythm and dramatic skills.

Problem Solving Skills – Solving riddles or puzzles about zoo animals is fun and teaches preschoolers problem solving skills.


Young children learn using all five of their senses.  When babies put things in their mouths, it is because they are exploring the world around them through their senses.  Taste, to a toddler, is as important a learning tool as is his vision.  Tasting, smelling, touching, hearing and seeing are all avenues through which a young child learns about her environment.  Through sensory exploration, she learns what things are and how they are different from one another.

A trip to the zoo and follow-up adventures are great for your child to explore animals through all five of their senses.  When they feel the monkey, smell the monkey, make noises like the monkey, observe the monkey and eat a banana like the monkey, they gain a better understand of what it is to be a monkey.

Below are some fun and educational activities to do with your child after a trip to the zoo.

Buy a few plastic toy animals for your child from a particular environment, such as; jungle animals, plain animals, farm animals, etc.  Have your child try to find out about their animals from people or books.  Where do the animals come from?  What does their home look like?

Next, give your child a sturdy box top and have him partially fill it with dirt or sand.  Then, have him find or make small trees, waterholes, grass, rocks, etc.  Encourage your child to play with his toy animals in the homemade habitat.

Help your child cut eye holes out of paper plates.  Then let her glue on paper ears and color the mask to resemble a jungle animal.  Your child can tape on a large craft stick for a handle or just hold the paper plate up to her face.
Provide your child with two or three zoo animal stamps along with a stamp pad.  Show him how to press the stamp onto the pad and then onto a piece of paper.  Encourage your child to stamp a number of animals onto a piece of paper.  Then using crayons, finish off his picture by drawing in grass, rocks and trees.  When your child is done, have him count the number of animals in his picture.
Each day this week serve a different kind of snack for your child in honor of a different zoo animal.  Bananas for monkeys, peanuts (or peanutbutter, if you prefer)for elephants, apples for horses, corn for pigs, berries for bears, fish crackers for seals.  Continue this activity as long as interest lasts.  You can let your child plan out the animal snacks if you are really brave!
Play a simple copycat game with your child.  Pretend to be a monkey and make simple hand movements.  Have your child copy your movements.  Take turns with your child being the monkey.
Make up simple riddles about zoo animals for your child to solve.
Such as:  I have big ears
                  A long nose
                  And I am gray
                  What am I?
There are lots of books you can read to your child about zoo animals.  Take a trip to the library and help your child pick out three or four books about the zoo.
You and your child can also make up your own stories about zoo animals using animal cards made with small index cards and animal stickers.
  • Place an animal sticker on each index card.
  • Lay the cards up-side-down on a table and mix them up.
  • Have your child draw a card while you start a story.
  • Incorporate the animal drawn into your story.
  • Continue telling your story, stopping every once in a while for your child to turn over another animal card.
  • Continue the story while interest lasts.

Tune:  “Frere Jacques”

See the animals, see the animals,
At the zoo, at the zoo.
There are little monkeys,
There are great big elephants,
Bears, too, and kangaroos.

See the animals, see the animals,
At the zoo, at the zoo.
There are lions and tigers,
There are big gorillas,
Giraffes too, at the zoo.
                                Jean Warren
As you sing about each animal, encourage your child to act like the animal.