The A to Z Science series for toddlers and preschoolers at Inspiration Laboratories finishes with the letter Z. Z is for Zoo.
Z is for Zoo
Zoos are an awesome place for learning about conservation efforts and making connections to our environment. Learn about different animals, their habitats, and why we should care about them. Taking young children to the zoo is a great way to develop an appreciation for animals early on. My kids were both less than 6 month’s old on their first zoo visits.
Plan Your Visit to the Zoo
Our zoo is quite large and it is often difficult to see everything in one day. We talk about what we would like to see as a family and check the zoo’s website to see if there are any animal closures or special events. When we arrive at the zoo, we grab a map and plan our route. Usually we ride the zoo train as it helps us get from place to place faster with two kids in tow.
Read the Signs and Look for Interactive Exhibits
One of my previous jobs was actually to help design interactive exhibits at an aquarium/zoo attraction. The goal is to draw in the visitors and teach them something. The interactive element is often entertaining as well.
Here is an example of a silk worm life cycle display that has great information and shows the animal up close. I like how they’ve shown what product we get from the silk worms as well.
Here is an interactive display. Look through the microscope at different animal coverings – fur, feathers, etc.
See Things Up Close
Zoos have super collections of animals that you would never be able to see up close in the wild. From insects and spiders to reptiles and amphibians to birds and mammals, be sure to seek out the exhibits that let you get close.
We went to the Insectarium on our most recent trip. We looked at all of the invertebrates behind glass and hung with the butterflies in the butterfly wing. A blue morpho landed in my hair.
I captured a video of leafcutter ants in action. I think they are super cool.
Sometimes the large animals can be hard to find in the their habitat. Have fun looking for them. Here’s a zoomed in shot of a jaguar I posted to Instagram.
Be on the look out for keeper chats as you walk around the zoo, or plan to make it to some when you are planning your visit up front. Keepers have a wealth of knowledge about the animals in their care. Ask them questions. They will be happy to answer.
We met up with this keeper near the okapi. She had zebra fur and okapi fur for us to compare.
Many zoos have a section just for the kids. They have special presentations where you can learn more about the animals and you can get closer to certain animals.
This is a picture of toddler Aiden brushing the goats at the children’s zoo.
What is your favorite part of the zoo?
More Animal Activities for Kids
- Animal Math Manipulatives | Making Groups of 5 or 10
- Baby Animal Matching Game – match the babies to the moms
- 12 Great Animal Sound Books for Toddlers
- Animal Matching Game for Toddlers
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