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How to Plan Zoo Activities for Preschoolers


Have you ever thought about bringing the zoo to your classroom?

If you haven’t, I can tell you from experience that zoo activities for preschoolers are an amazing opportunity to engage and inspire kids.

Setting up a zoo-themed classroom and including animal-related activities can produce a vibrant learning space that will attract the attention of your preschoolers and improve their educational experience.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the many benefits of zoo activities for preschoolers. I’ll also provide you with practical tips and engaging activities to create a fun and educational animal-themed learning experience.

So, if you’re ready to inspire your young learners to explore and discover the wonders of the animal kingdom, join me on this exciting journey as we discover the endless possibilities of a zoo-themed classroom!

Why Bringing the Zoo to the Classroom is Such a Great Idea

One of the greatest advantages of bringing the zoo to the classroom is that it creates a hands-on learning experience that goes far beyond what a textbook can offer.

The children will be excited to engage in the different zoo animal activities you have planned for them, making your classroom a more interesting and enjoyable place to be.

Moreover, incorporating a zoo-themed classroom environment can help stimulate children’s imagination and encourage creativity.

You’ll also get an opportunity to inspire your young learners, create a fun and exciting learning environment, and develop important skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

The Beauty of Learning About Animals at a Young Age

‌Young children are naturally curious and eager to explore the world around them, so learning about different zoo animals early can be a truly beautiful and rewarding experience for them.

Zoo activities for preschoolers can ignite children’s curiosity and inspire a love for learning that will last a lifetime.

Additionally, not only is learning about zoo animals fascinating and so much fun for children, but it also helps preschoolers develop critical skills such as observation, critical thinking, problem-solving, empathy, and compassion.

Zoo theme and other zoo activities for preschoolers can also teach kids about the natural world and how it works.

Setting Up Your Zoo Classroom

Setting up your classroom with a zoo theme is a wonderful and fun project that can spark your kids’ imagination and curiosity.

With a few simple tips, you can transform your classroom into a local zoo filled with amazing animals, taking your pupils into an entirely different learning environment.

To set up your zoo classroom, first, think about the layout of your classroom.

You want to create a space that is inviting and engaging, with plenty of opportunities for exploration.

Think about dividing the space into sections for various activities, such as a reading nook with books on zoo animals, a scientific station for zoo animals’ experiments and observations, and an art station for zoo animal crafts and creative expression.

Next, consider what furnishings, images, contests, and fun zoo-themed activities can assist in creating an immersive experience.

Think about hanging zoo animal printables or murals, using natural elements like plants or pebbles to provide a sensory experience, or using plush zoo animals or zoo animal toys for hands-on learning.

Although setting up your zoo classroom might take a little more work, the benefits are unlimited.

Tips for Creating a Zoo Themed Classroom Environment

Here are some tips I find very helpful when creating a zoo theme classroom environment: 

Decorate your classroom with animal-themed decorations such as zoo crafts, zoo posters and pictures, and figurines to create a vibrant atmosphere.

You can also add a touch of greenery by incorporating live plants that are safe for children. 

    Make sure to have plenty of books and resources on animals and the zoo, including zoo printables, non-fiction books, picture books, and storybooks.

    These resources can keep kids busy and provide them with a wealth of knowledge about the amazing animals in the zoo and their natural environments. 

    Create learning centers with zoo animal-related activities.

    For instance, a zoo science center could feature animal habitats, while a zoo writing center could have animal-themed writing prompts.

    Use zoo theme rewards and incentives to keep your preschoolers motivated.

    For example, you could have a “zoo keeper of the week” award or reward them with zoo animal stickers or pencils, zoo animal masks, zoo animal puzzles, or small toy zoo animals. 

    Engage your preschoolers in practical zoo activities that let them investigate ideas about zoo animals.

    For instance, to promote exploration and sensory development, you may make a sensory bin containing animal figurines, sand, or water.

    While your kids are carrying out their engaging zoo activities, make sure they are safe and properly supervised, especially if you intend to bring live animals into the classroom.

    There must be enough adults there to watch over the kids and make sure they are obeying rules because younger kids need more supervision than older kids do.

    Zoo-Themed Art Activities

    ‌Zoo-Themed Art Activities are an amazing way to engage preschoolers while teaching them about animals and the zoo.

    The following 5 art activity ideas are exciting and easy to set up. They will captivate your little ones and provide hours of fun and learning! 

    1. Animal Masks

    Get your little ones to unleash their inner potential by making zoo animal masks!

    Create cute masks of their favorite animals from colored or white construction paper and let them customize them with paint, crayons, and other art supplies.

    This interactive craft is also great for developing your kids’ fine motor skills.

    Animal masks

    2. Handprint Animals

    Have your preschoolers dip their hands in children-friendly craft paint and make animal handprints. 

    You can use a variety of colors to create different animals like lions, monkeys, and elephants.

    Once dry, add details like eyes, whiskers, or spots to bring their favorite zoo animal to life.

    Preschoolers with hands painted with paint

    3. Paper Plate Animals

    Using paper plates, your little ones can create their own zoo animals!

    Have them paint the plates with different colors and patterns, and then add details like ears, snouts, and tails using construction paper.

    They can even add googly eyes or feathers to make their zoo animals more unique.

    Learn how to create these beautiful paper plate animals from First Palette.

    Beautiful paper plate animals from first Palette

    4. Clay Animals

    You can create miniature zoo animal figurines with modeling clay. Your preschoolers can craft their favorite animals or other animals, ranging from big elephants to small mice!

    Once they’re finished, ask them to add special touches to their clay animals by painting them with acrylic paint

    Preschoolers modeling clay to make animal figures

    5. Animal Collage

    Cut out images of different animals from old magazines or newspapers, then let your kids assemble a collage with a zoo theme using those images, glue sticks, and cardboard.

    They can include extras like trees, grass, or rocks to improve the depiction of a zoo unit even more.

    This zoo theme exercise is a fantastic way to help kids learn about zoo animals and their habitats.

    Your kids will not only find these adorable crafts enjoyable but also educational.

    Forest Animal collage from First Palette

    Animal Science Experiments

    While the previous section focused on zoo crafts, this section will provide simple zoo science experiments.

    Science projects can help preschoolers discover a variety of scientific concepts in a fun and engaging way.

    Simple Science Experiments You Can Do with a Zoo Theme:

    Animal Habitat

    Take a few bowls, add some water, sand, and grass, and then take a few animal figurines. Are your preschoolers able to connect the animals with their appropriate homes?

    It’s a fantastic approach to get children thinking and learning about different animal habitats!

    Bug Hunt

    Go outside and let your preschoolers explore the natural world around them by searching for insects. Have them observe and describe the characteristics of each bug they find.

    kids searching their environment

    Animal Features

    Provide your preschoolers with models of various animals and encourage their investigations by posing questions such as:

    • How many toes are there?

    • What does the skin look like? Is it bumpy? Scaly? Smooth?  

    • When the animal walks, what parts of its body touch the ground?

    • Does the animal have nails? Hooves? Claws?

    • Does the animal have ears? Eyes? Tail? Nose?

    • Is the animal a wild animal or a domestic animal?

    Zoo-Themed Story Time

    Reading and Storytelling Activities That Focus on Animals and the Zoo

    Reading and storytelling are fascinating ways to capture children’s attention and send them on exciting adventures through pages filled with animal tales and zoo wonders.

    Your preschoolers will develop important skills such as imagination, language development, and cognitive thinking.

    There is a treasure trove of captivating books that will transport you and your preschoolers into the magical world of animals and the zoo.

    I have put together a collection that will leave you and your preschoolers wanting more below.

    Dear Zoo

    This classic children’s book tells the story of a child who writes to the zoo asking for a pet. The zoo sends various animals, but none of them are quite right.

    Your preschoolers can increase the fun by predicting which zoo animal will be presented next.

    Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

    Giraffes Can’t Dance

    A giraffe named Gerald wants to dance but believes he can’t due to his long legs and neck. With the help of a wise cricket, he learns that he just needs to find his own rhythm.

    Giraffes can't dance

    Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

    In this book, children can learn about the different animal sounds, including polar bear, lion, and peacock. The rhythmic text makes it a fun read-aloud.

    Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

     Zoo Animals

    Zoo Animals

    Goodnight Gorilla

    This charming story is about a mischievous gorilla who steals the key to the zoo from the zoo keeper and lets all the animals out of their cages.

    This special book explores the zoo and the incredible animals that live there. Each page will show us different zoo animals, and tell us their names, where they live and what makes them unique.

    Quiz your preschoolers by asking them to identify the animals on each page.

    Goodnight Gorilla

    With the help of these interesting zoo-themed storytime ideas, kids can learn about animals, empathy, and crucial life lessons in a cool and engaging way.

    Zoo Animal Movement and Exercise

    Fun Physical Activities That Help Children Learn About How Animals Move

    ‌Learning about animals doesn’t have to be limited to science lessons and books.

    Young children can learn about the natural world by incorporating animal themes into physical exercises.

    This way, they can learn about animal habits, habitats, and adaptations in a dynamic and engaging way. Plus, they will also help strengthen their fine motor skills.

    Here are some suggestions for integrating learning concepts into animal-themed movement activities:

    1. Animal Charades

    Have children act out different animal movements and behaviors while their classmates try to guess which zoo animal they are imitating.

    Kids can use this zoo dramatic play to learn about animal names and the various ways that animals move and act.

    2. Habitat Scavenger Hunt

    Hide pictures of different animal habitats in or near the playground or classroom.

    Hide plastic zoo animals in another part of the classroom or playground.

    Have the children match the pictures of the habitats where animals live and the plastic zoo animals.

    This activity helps kids learn about the various habitats that zoo animals dwell in, as well as the adaptations those animals have made to live there.

    3. Animal Yoga

    Use animal-themed yoga poses to teach children about different animal movements and behaviors.

    For example, the “cat-cow” pose can teach kids about how cats stretch their backs, and the “downward dog” can teach them about how dogs stretch their legs.

    4. Animal Relay Race

    Set up an obstacle course with various zoo animal motions such as kangaroo jumping, crocodile crawling, or snake slithering.

    Divide children into teams and have them race through the course. This activity can help them learn about different zoo animal movements and adaptations.

    5. Storytelling Circle

    Gather children in a circle and have them take turns telling a story about their favorite zoo animal. Each child can add a sentence or two to the story, creating a fun and collaborative storytelling experience.


    Well, that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about all the fun and interesting ways to teach young children about the amazing animals at the zoo.

    By using different approaches–from sensory art projects to science experiments and reading/storytelling activities, you will never run out of opportunities to make learning about animals exciting and memorable for preschoolers.

    Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, I hope you’ll feel inspired to try out some of these zoo activities with the little ones in your life.

    Go out there and inspire a love of animals and nature in the next generation!

    I’ll be here waiting to read how your zoo activities for preschoolers went.

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