Learning the Letters
Our Z is for Zoo was the culmination of our units on the letters of the alphabet. By this time, my kids knew all of their letters, so we just played some fun review games. One simple and easy review game is as follows: Use sidewalk chalk to write the letters of the alphabet on the cement outside the house. Then call out a sound (or a letter) and have the kids race to the letter (or they could throw a ball or water balloon at the letter). I also have letters on cards that I can spread out inside and give my kids toy hammers that they bang the letters with when I call out the sound (for this one if you have multiple kids as I do, you might want to give each child his own sets of cards and toy hammer to avoid conflict).
The Books We Read
1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle
This is a cute counting book that also features a train; thus it is a favorite for my boys.
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
This Caldecott-Award winning book is a charming, imaginative story about a zookeeper who has to take a sick day and whose animals come to cheer him up.
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
This book doesn't have very many words but still tells a cute story with pictures. The animals, led by the Gorilla, all sneak out of their cages and follow the zookeeper home.
My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
This book is fun because all of the illustrations of animals in the book are made with heart shapes.
Giant Pop-Out Safari by Chronicle Books
This book is a fun animal guessing game. Various clues are given and the kids try to guess what each animal is based on the clues. Then you open the pop-out page and they see a large picture of that animal.
We used this cute Zoo Preschool Pack to practice counting and other basic skills. My kids loved using clothespins to clip the numbers on the animal counting cards.
We sorted animals into the following groups: herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores. We also learned a few fun facts about the animals as we did this.
Of course we had to go to the zoo! We have several smaller zoos as well as one major zoo within an hour of our home, so we had a lot of choices of places to go. If you can't make it the zoo, try taking a virtual trip to the zoo. I love the San Diego Zoo Kids' Website. It has cute videos, games, and even live animal cams.
We did this simple letter Z is for Zoo craft from No Time for Flash Cards. I outlined the shape of a Z on a paper and the kids chose animal stickers to put on the Z. Then they drew lines for the "cages" over the animal stickers. I then cut out the letter and mounted it on a contrasting color of construction paper.
To go along with the book My Heart is Like a Zoo we also made animals out of shapes, including heart shapes. I cut out several different shapes in different colors and the kids glued them onto pieces of paper in the shapes of animals. Then they decorated their shape animals with crayons and markers.
We also painted pieces of cardboard and then I cut the painted cardboard out into the shapes of animals that my kids then played with.
We made our own play dough zoos. The kids used popsicle sticks to create cages for their small plastic toy zoo animals. I also love this lovely sensory bin if you want something a bit more fancy.
We ate animal crackers for snack time.
Games and Songs
We made a pretend zoo with our stuffed animals. My kids were the zookeepers at first. But then they wanted to be animals, so they pretended to be monkeys and I became the zookeeper. We also sang animal/zoo-themed songs such as "The Animal Fair." More zoo songs can be found here.
We had a lot of fun wrapping our letter of the week preschool at home. For more of my Z is for Zoo ideas, you can check out my Pinterest board here.
And if you are interested in all of the letters of the alphabet that we did this year, be sure to check out all of my posts:
and of course this final unit above,
Z is for Zoo.-->