Many kids love animals. They get excited over reading about dolphins, seeing a photo of a lion, or meeting a new dog at the park. (Actually, I still get excited about animals, too!)
And why wouldn’t we be excited? Our world contains so many amazing varieties of animals who live and survive in unique, sometimes surprising ways.
With this excitement over the unique, it’s no surprise families flock to local zoos to observe animals and learn more.
As with most of our learning units, we love to read books and complete activities before a culminating project or field trip, like a zoo trip.
Read on for a big list of books, printables, and activities to learn more about our world’s amazing animals.
Favorite Animal Books
If you’re planning a zoo trip or learning about various animals, check out these books beforehand:
- Toddlers and preschoolers love Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (Henry Holt, 1997) and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? (Henry Holt, 1996) both by Bill Martin Jr., Illustrated by Eric Carle. The repetition in these books allow for toddlers to anticipate and memorize text, plus the colorful representations introduce many animals.
- We recently had the opportunity to review Curious Creatures from Zondervan (2014). This hardcover book includes 4 of their previous “I Can Read!” titles about various animals around the world. This compilation contains Rain Forest Friends, Jungle Beasts, Polar Pals, and Curious Creatures Down Under. Each of the four books features a brief introduction to the habitat and four animals from that environment. The format of the book is visually appealing with beautiful photos of the animals, main text introducing essential information, and extra “fun” facts in the margins. The main text provides straightforward, non-fiction information, written in a way appropriate for early readers. The extra facts touched on habitat information, gestation and family facts, eating habits, and provided me with new information, too. My kids loved reading through these pages, and this compilation can serve as a great starting point for learning about different animals.
- Speaking of interesting facts, we love Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle Books, 2013). This creative nonfiction picture book offers very intriguing statistics about the lives of unique animals like seahorses, kangaroos, and more. The back matter is extremely detailed and includes math information, as well.
- We also love and crack up at Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinksy (Greenwillow Books, 2012). While less educational, this extremely humorous book gets kids (and adults!) giggling while noticing a variety of animals.
- The Library Adventure posted a list of 10 picture books about zoo animals.
- The Pragmatic Mom has another list of 10 picture books and chapter books featuring zoo animals.
- Here’s one more book list about zoo animals, including picture books and chapter books, from KC Edventures.
Zoo Animal Learning Resources
Below are printables for zoo field trips, activities centered on different animals, video links, and more.
- This Animal Sorting File Folder Game from Homeschool Creations can be a great categorizing activity before the field trip.
- This Australian Animals Kindergarten kit at Homeschool Share can be used as another pre-field trip activity.
- I love this “Animal Taste Game” from Wildlife Fun 4 Kids. You could complete this activity before a zoo field trip for a pre-learning game, or after for an application activity.
- We love The Zoo Train episode of Signing Time. You learn signs of many different animals through fun and song, and this video can be used to promote early literacy skills and introduce younger viewers to some of the animals.
- During your trip, you can use something like these great zoo bingo cards from Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational. She created one for non-readers and another with written clues that could be appropriate for various animals.
- 123HomeschoolForMe also has multiple zoo scavenger hunts.
- This zoo passport is a cute idea for preschoolers.
- Take a look at these tips from Nothing If Not Intentional for during your zoo trip.
- Maureen put together a huge list of zoo trip resources for preschoolers at Spell Outloud.
- After your field trip is done, you can make an “experience book” like this idea at Two-Daloo.
What activities do you like to do before, during, and after a zoo field trip? Which zoo animals are your kids’ favorites?
This post is also linked up with Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten Corner, Tuesday Tots, Toddler and Preschool Moms Pinning Party, the Weekly Kids Co-op, Show and Share Saturday, Free Homeschool Deals’ Ultimate Pinterest Party, and Link & Learn.
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