This post is by regular contributor Kylie Gardner of Octavia & Vicky.
One sunny and crisp wintery day I took my three year old daughter ‘Pebble’ on a little day out to the zoo with friends. We had taken her to the zoo once before and it was a little overwhelming – too many things to see and do all at once. For this trip I tried to focus Pebble’s attention using a fun literacy activity, a Zoo Hunt featuring lots of her favourite animals. This trip was much more successful as Pebble had purpose in her day, something that she seems to need.
DIY Zoo Hunt for Kids
Find out about your zoo
To create the Zoo Hunt Pebble and I sat down together to look at the map of the zoo, which I had printed from the zoo web page. We looked at the animals that we would see during our visit and Pebble picked out some favourites to be included in the hunt.
Choose pictures for your hunt
We used the internet to find pictures for our zoo hunt. You could also find pictures using a zoo brochure or magazine featuring animals, or children could draw the pictures themselves.
Label the pictures
Older children can label the animals themselves by writing or typing the animals names next to each picture or adults can write the names for younger children.
Create a clipboard
You can buy cheap small sized (A5) clipboards from stationary shops, but I quickly and easily created one using a hard backed book, a bulldog clip, a piece of string and a pen.
Done! Now use your map and Zoo Animal Hunt to find all of those favourite animals at the zoo (this is a great opportunity for children to practice using maps too).
Here are some further ideas for including literacy in your zoo visit with toddlers and preschoolers:
- Read fiction and non-fiction books about zoos and animals before your visit. Borrow some from your library if you don’t have any at home.
- Visit the zoo web page and print out any useful resources, eg. fact sheets, or watch videos featuring the different animals.
- Instead of using animal names, create a zoo hunt using different animal features eg. an animal that has fur, a nocturnal animal, an animal with horns.
- Try to find an animal in the zoo for each letter of the alphabet. Take a photo of each animal and make your own animal alphabet book.
- Hunt for animals who’s name starts with the same initial letter as your child’s first name.
- After your zoo visit encourage your children to document their zoo visit. They might choose to draw or paint a picture, make a sculpture with play dough or clay or act out a puppet show with bought or homemade puppets. Check out this post for other ideas for making the most of your zoo outing.
- Following your zoo trip, add your zoo map to your dramatic play resources as a way to extend imaginary play.
Do you like to visit a local zoo? Do your children have a favourite zoo or animal related activity?
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