Zoo themed preschool lesson plans. Arts and crafts, games, math, science, group time activities, songs and snack ideas.

Mama's Taking us to the Zoo Tomorrow
Mama's Taking us to the Zoo Tomorrow
Zoo Tomorrow, Zoo Tomorrow,
Mama's Taking us to the Zoo Tomorrow
We can stay all day.
This song is featured on Singable Songs for the Very Young by Raffi. Click on the link to BUY IT NOW from Amazon.com. 

Hand Antler Headbands
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Trace the child's hands onto brown paper. Have the child cut out the hand shapes. Measure your child's head, and have the child cut a piece of brown construction paper long enough to create a headband. Glue the paper together so the headband fits snugly on your child's head but is loose enough to take off easily. Then affix the hands for antlers. 

Elephant Paper Plate Mask
Each child should paint a paper plate gray. When it is dry, have the child cut out two huge ear shapes from gray paper and attach them to the plate with staples. Cut out a hole for the nose and push a gray sock through the hole so the toe of the sock is the end of the nose. 

Elephant Tracks
Affix elephant track shapes on the floor in a path with contact paper. Have the children follow the path. You can make the shapes close together or far enough apart so that they can hop from one to the next.

Animal Fat
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You will need two idenitcal ziplock bags. Place shortening inside one of the bags, then turn the second bag inside out and place inside the first bag. Seal the first and second bags together. Spread the shortening out inside the bags so that it forms an even layer. Next, fill a container with ice cold water. Have a child put one hand in the bag, then in the water, and their other hand in the water. Can they feel the difference. The fat will protect their hand from the cold water. 

Marble Painting Zebra
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First you need a large plastic container with a lid. (I used a shallow peanut butter container.) Next cut out paper in the shape of a horse that will fit in the lid of the container. Place a few drops of black paint into the container with a few marbles (be sure to observe carefully as marbles are a choking hazzard) then place a very small amount of black paint on the lid and pre-cut paper on the paint. (I use the paint to make the paper stick to the lid.) Place the lid on the container, flip and have the children shake. When finished, remove paper and allow to dry, and place a clean piece of paper in the lid for the next child. 

Fingerprint Giraffe
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Have the children make black fingerprints on orange paper with either a non-toxic ink pad or non-toxic paint. When dry trace a giraffe shape onto the paper and havethe children cut it out. They can glue their giraffe onto another piece of paper then add torn green paper for grass and leaves. 

Cookie Cutter Match Game
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Obtain many different zoo animal cookie cutters. Trace each one onto one piece of paper. Have the children try to match each cookie cutter to its match on the paper. 

Giraffe "z"
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Have the children cut out a yellow or orange "Z". Then have the children glue on brown paper for the spots and add two clothes pins for the legs. 

Contact Paper Art
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You will need a picture of a zoo animal. A reverse image is needed if the picture can be backwards. Place the image on the table and place a piece of contact paper, sticky side up over the image. Supply the children with scraps of construction paper to tissue paper. Children use the scraps to create the image on the contact paper. 

Felt Monkey Board
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Make monkey faces and bananas from felt. Number each monkey. The children will place the correct number of bananas next to each monkey. 

Banana Treat
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Cut a banana into sections, place on the end of a straw. Dip the banana into warmed chocolate. Freeze, then eat! 

Act Like a Monkey
Have the children pretend to be monkeys. Have them hop around the class making monkey noises. 

Bear Foot Prints
Make bear foot prints from construction paper. Laminate them. Place them on the floor for the children to follow. 

Zebra Stripes
Supply the children with zebra shaped paper and black paint. Tell the children to paint the striped on their zebra. 

Zebra stripes II
Supply the children with zebra shaped paper and black paper. Have the children tear thin strips of paper and glue them onto the zebra. 

Lion Paper Plate Masks
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Have the children paint a paper plate yellow or brown. After the paint has dried, have the children use a hole punch around the rim of the plate. Supply the children with yellow, orange and brown yarn pieces, about two inches in length. The children should place a piece of yarn in a hole and tie it. Continue until there is yarn all the way around the plate. At this point the children may cut out the facial features to make a mask, or glue on facial features. 

Sand Table Idea
Add plastic zoo animals to your sand table. 

Dramatic Play Idea
Add plastic zoo animals to your block area. Encourage the children to build a zoo. 

Another Dramatic Play Idea
Supply the children with costumes of animals commonly found in a zoo. 

Pretend to go on a Safari
You are the tour guide on this safari. Have all the children join you in circle time or on a rug. Tell them that we are all going on a safari (or to the zoo.) Tell the children what animals you see. "Look, over there, it's a huge elephant." Ask the children what animals they see. 

Alphabet Zoo
Idea taken from Barney - Alphabet Zoo Click on the link to buy it now, from Amazon.com. 
Have the children name animals starting with each letter of the alphabet. 

Zoo Animal Picnic
Invite the children to bring their favorite stuffed animal. The animal should be one commonly found in a zoo. Have a picnic on the floor or outside with each child's favorite animal. You can either pretend to eat, or have snack or lunch picnic style. 

The Bear Went Over the Mountain
Tune: For He's a Jolly Good Fellow 
The bear went over the mountain, 
The bear went over the mountain, 
The bear went over the mountain, 
To see what he could see 

To see what he could see, 
To see what he could see 

The other side of the mountain, 
The other side of the mountain, 
The other side of the mountain, 
Was all that he could see 

Was all that he could see, 
Was all that he could see, 
The other side of the mountain, 
Was all that he could see! 

Kinds of Bears
Discuss the different types of real bears. Polar bears, grisly bears, etc. 

Cookie Cutter Painting
Put a small amount of tempera paint in a large shallow container. (A pie tin works well.) Show your child how to dip the cookie cutter in the paint and press onto a piece of paper to create a print. You can make Zoo pictures by using animal cookie cutters and colored paper. 

Bear Ears
Measure your child's head, and cut a piece of brown construction paper long enough to create a headband. Glue the paper together so the headband fits snugly on your child's head but is loose enough to take off easily. Cut from brown paper two ears. Let your child help you glue the ear to the headband. It's okay if it's a little off, it's art! Have fun, and encourage your child to act like a bear. 

Animal Matching
My First Brain Quest : Animal Matching is available from amazon.com. 
Or make your own, by using stickers and card stock. Click on the link to see a picture. 

Bean Bag Toss
Supply the children with animal bean bags and a laundry basket. Place a piece of masking tape on the floor for a throw line. The distance from the basket to the line should vary with abilities. Have the children throw the bean bags into the basket. 

Bear Bowling
Obtain 10 half gallon milk cartons, or 2 liter bottles. Fill the bottles about 1/8 full with water and seal the lid. Then, decorate the bottles like bears, adding construction paper ears, and use permanent markers for the eyes and nose. Set the bottles up like they were bowling pins and have the children roll a ball to try to knock them over. If they don't knock over easily, remove some of the water. 

Animal Crackers Jar
For older children. Fill a small jar with Animal Crackers. Ask each child to guess how many Animal Crackers are in the jar. For younger children, limit the number of Animal Crackers to less than ten. Record each child's guess. Count the Animal Crackers. 

Animal Crackers Jar for School Age Children
Provide three identical jars with pre-counted Animal Crackers of 20, 30, and 40. Label these jars 20, 30 and 40. Place 20 to 40 Animal Crackers in a fourth identical jar. Allow the children to examine all four jars before they guess. Record the children's approximations. Count the Animal Crackers. 

Zoo Keeper May I?
Played just like Mother May I? The child and parent stand at opposite sides of a room. The child asks if he/she may: take so may step forward. i.e. "Mother may I please take 3 baby steps forward?" the answer would be either, "Yes you may," or "No, you may not." The child wins when they reach you. Encourage the use of descriptive words, such as little, big, huge, tiny, and giant. You can also play this with a group of children. The winner would be the one who reaches you first. 

Duck, Duck, BEAR!!!
Played like "Duck, Duck, Goose" except the children will go around the circle, and say "Bear" instead of "Goose."
Substitute Bear for other Zoo animals 

Zoo Keeper Says:
Played just like "Simon Say" except the teacher says "Zoo Keeper Says." With younger children, do not make children sit out... just say "Zoo Keeper didn't say." 

Bear Stomp Musical Chairs
If they children made bear headbands, have them wear them during this activity. Arrange the chairs in a circle. If you have younger children, it is best to have too many chairs. This can be a game where everyone wins. Have the children stomp around the chairs until the music stops. Then everyone finds a chair. 

Musical Zoo
Cut out animal shapes from colored paper. Laminate them and cut them out. Place them on the floor. It is best for younger children to have more animals than children. Play music and have the children walk around the room. When the music stops, each child needs to find an animal to stand on. 

Pass the bear
Played like hot potato... have the children sit in a circle and pass stuffed bear around the circle when music is playing, when the music stops the child holding the bear sits in the middle or the "bear pot" until the music stops again and the next child replaces the first. You may also chant "Pass the Bear, Pass the Bear, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10" and the child who has the bear on 10 is in the "bear pot." 

Zoo Animal Day
Invite each child to bring in a stuffed animal. 

Stuffed Animal Zoo
Place a variety of stuffed animals inside flipped over laundry baskets to create a zoo. 

Smaller Zoo
You can use strawberry baskets and plastic animals for a smaller version of a zoo. 

Zoo Animals Charades
Have the children act out certain animals or play charades. 

Penguin Race
Have the children race like penguins with a ball between their knees. 

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? by Eric Carle
Click on the link to buy this book from Amazon.com
Read this wonderful story with your children. While reading the story, encourage the children to make the animal noises, and say "What do you Hear?" This is a great interactive book. 

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
Click on the link to buy this book from Amazon.com
I use this book to get the children involved in circle time. I have them get up and act every page. After they do one of the activities, I have them shout "I can do it!" This is a wonderful book for those "active" children. 

Vote and Graph it
Have the children vote for their favorite zoo animal and graph the results. Which animals did most children like the best? 

Stamping Patterns
Use polar animal rubber stamps to create a simple pattern on the top half of a piece of paper. Ask your child to help you recreate the pattern on the bottom half of the paper. Tip: Start with one stamp, and have your child pick which stamp you used. Start slowly and work your way up to more complicated patterns. 

Polar Bear
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Turn around. 
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Touch the ground. 
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Shine your shoes. 
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Skidoo. 

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Go upstairs. 
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Say your prayers. 
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Turn out the light.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, Say good night. 

Substitute Polar Bear with lion, kangaroo, butterfly, sea lion, tiger.. etc. 

The Penguin Song
by chicky sung to "Mary Had a Little Lamb"
Penguins like the cold weather, 
cold weather, cold weather,
Penguins like the cold weather,
And they like to play. 

Penguins like to swim and play
swim and play, swim and play,
Penguins like to swim and play
And they rest at night 

Penguins eat a lot of fish,
a lot of fish, a lot of fish,
Penguins eat a lot of fish,
Each and every day. 

Doing the Penguin
Featured on Hot Hot Hot Dance Songs By Sesame Street 

Tiger Stripes
Supply each child with orange and black paper. Have the child tear the black paper into thin stripes, then glue onto the orange paper. 

Leopard Prints
Supply each child with a piece of brown paper and black non-toxic stamp pads. Show the child how to make fingerprints on the paper, using only one finger at a time. 

Zoo Song
By chicky, sung to Mary Had a Little Lamb
I went to the zoo one day,
zoo one day, zoo one day
I went to the zoo one day
And I saw a (fill in the blank.) 

Another Zoo Song
by chicky, sung to Frere Jacques
Lions, tigers,
Monkeys, bears,
At the Zoo
In my view
See the birds are soaring
Hear the lions roaring
at the zoo
Me and you. 

Special Song
(Sung to "Where is Thumbkin?") 
(Animal's Name) are Special, 
(Animal's Name) are Special, 
Yes they are, 
Yes they are, 
(Animal's Name) are Special, 
(Animal's Name) are Special,
Yes they are, 
Yes they are. 

Sally (Alice) the Camel
Featured on Barney's Favorites, Vol. 1 . Click on the link to buy the CD from amazon.com.
Sally (Alice) the camel has 5 humps
Sally the camel has 5 humps
Sally the camel has 5 humps
Now ride Sally ride,
boom boom boom! 

Sally the camel has 4 humps
Sally the camel has 4 humps
Sally the camel has 4 humps
Now ride Sally ride,
boom boom boom! 

(sing with 3, 2, 1, no humps then...)
Now Sally is a horse of coarse. 

Five Little Monkeys 
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed 
One fell off and bumped his head 
So Momma called the doctor and the doctor said 
No more monkeys jumping on the bed! 
(Sing with 4,3,2,1 little monkeys) then... 
No little monkeys jumping on the bed 
None fell off and bumped his head 
So Momma called the doctor and the doctor said 
Put those monkeys back in bed! 

Kookaburra
Featured on Barney's Favorites, Vol. 1 . Click on the link to buy the CD from amazon.com.
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree 
Merry, merry king of the bush is he 
Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra! 
Gay your life must be 
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree 
Eating all the gum drops he can see 
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra! 
Leave some there for me 
Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree 
Counting all the monkeys he can see 
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra! 
That's not a monkey that's me 

Five little Monkeys!!!! 
Five little monkeys, swinging in a tree (hold up five fingers, and swing hand)
Teasing Mr. Alligator, can't catch me, (make wings by placing thumbs in arm pits, and rock elbows up and down) 
You (point to child) can't catch me!!! (point to self) 
Shhhh (index finger to your mouth) 
Along comes Mr. Alligator.... quiet as can be (Place palms together thumbs pointing up, and fingers away from you, and move back and forth like a fish) 
And he snaps (clap hands in front of a child) that monkey right out of that tree. 
Repeat with Four, three, two and one. After the last monkey, say No more monkeys swinging in the tree. 
(use gesture for "all gone" or "I don't know")

Banana Frozen Pops
Click here to see an image of this project image submitted by Julia
Cut a banana in half. Insert a Popsicle stick in one end of the banana. Spread peanut butter onto the banana then drizzle with honey. Finally roll the banana in Rice Crispies and freeze.