The weather is starting to improve here in the Midwest, which typically means a lot of visits to the St. Louis Zoo. Do you enjoy visiting the zoo with your family? We love visiting the zoo. In fact, we’re members of our local zoo! Over the last couple of years, I’ve kept zoo visits fresh by adding educational activities to some of our trips.
Here are 7 educational activities to try at the zoo, to fill your visit with fun and learning!
1. Go on a mammal hunt.
Talk about the characteristics of mammals. As you go through the zoo, make a list of the mammals that you see, and their characteristics. Discuss this list with each other after you leave, and extend the learning beyond the zoo gates. My kids keep a “life list” which is all the different animals they’ve seen alive, and it’s always fun to hear which animals they want to add to their list.
2. Try an animal picnic.
Take some snacks that animals would enjoy with you to the zoo. Enjoy a picnic with your family sampling these snacks. Ideas could be assorted seeds, sprouts, carrots and crackers. These are treats many of the animals and enjoy and your kids may too. Be careful not to actually feed the animals, though, unless there are signs posted that you can and only use what the zoo allows! You want the animals to stay healthy for your next visit!!
3. Observe animal habitats.
While walking, take note about the various animal habitats. Some have huts; others hide in trees or near rocks. Some live in water, while others prefer tall brush. Talk about these various habitats and what it is that the animal may desire about them. Ask which habitat your kids would like, and why. Their answers never cease to amaze me.
4. Practice animal sounds.
Listen for various animal sounds and calls. Try to identify the calls and create the calls yourself. You can also ask an expert what these calls mean. Are they hungry? Distressed? Or just communicating a hello?
5. Find an alphabet of animals.
Start with the letter A and try to find an animal or object in the zoo that starts with each letter of the alphabet. For example you could say Ape, Bat, Cat, Dingos, Elephants, Giraffe, etc. etc. Celebrate with a hip hip hooray when you make it to Z!
6. Tally the animals.
How many animals dwell in the zoo? First, create an estimate. Then, it would be fun to keep a tally of them as you spot them. You can then count the tallies when done and see what the grand total is! You can even confirm your answer with a zoo keeper to see how close you are! This is a great way to practice math without them even realizing it.
7. Animal baby fun.
Now is a great chance to talk about the various names for animal babies! A baby kangaroo is a joey, a baby cow is a calf. Talk about the various names for animal babies. Ask the information center what babies will be out for viewing and by all means, keep your eyes peeled for them!
We love to practice map reading skills and pretend to be a zoo keeper while at the zoo!
We try to do something different each time we visit the zoo, so no two trips are the same. This keeps my kids engaged and learning with every trip.