Going to the zoo is a summer activity for all ages. If the animals cooperate (you choose whether this refers to your kids or the residents of the zoo) you will have a great time and may learn something, too. While a little bit of prep work could net you journals, masks, and so on, sometimes the clutter is more mess than it’s worth! Crafts are great, and pencil and paper learning has its place, but learning in a sneaky pencil-free way may be the best way to avoid the summer ‘slide’ educators and by extension, parents, are so worried about! Scroll past the description for additional free/easy no prep activities. If you have kids, you likely have all the things mentioned in the activities!
Laundry baskets or boxes
Optional: Blankets, pillows, blocks, balls etc.
Step 1: My kids sorted through their stuffed animals until the found ones that belong in the zoo. My rule was ‘no farm animals’, that kept the pigs, ducks, etc that might be in a petting zoo separate from the more traditional zoo animals you think of like giraffe, lion, etc. Skills: Sorting/Classification( Math, Science, Gross Motor)
Step 2: Gather laundry baskets and accessories. Skills: Gross Motor
Step 3: Play! Skills: Too many to count!
Need help, here’s some ideas to get you started:
- Create an exhibit of marine animals/African animals/land animals-use the basket to be the enclosure!
- Oh no! The animals escaped!
- Be a vet and doctor the animals!
- Zoo train- hop in the laundry basket and take a pretend ride!
- Be the animal in the zoo!
Want to extend the fun even more?
- Grab a dozen books from your library or bookshelf. Picture books, non-fiction, board books, fiction. The titles are nearly endless! What we read can be found in these links: Zoo, Zoo 2, Zoo 3 just look under the science books!
- Dig out those old puzzles or coloring books featuring animals and ask the kids what they think the animals eat, where they live, what eats them, if the animal would be a good pet, etc. Free play is still learning, and the kids can do either activity while still listening and answering questions!
- Grab some animal crackers. Name the animals. Make animal sounds! See who has the best roar! Snack time makes learning fun!
- Zoo movies: We bought a zoo!, The Wild, Madagascar, etc.
- In the car: Name the animals you saw that started with the letter A, B, C, etc.