Day Trips – A Visit to the Zoo

February 12th, 2013 posted by Nancy Price

petting starfish Almost all children enjoy a trip to the zoo. You can use zoos to encourage your child’s interest in the natural world and to introduce children to the many fascinating forms of life. Find out some ways to help make the most of your trip here!

Fun and Games

Guessing games can help your child understand structure and function. “Why do you think the seal has flippers?” (The seal uses flippers to swim through the water.) “Why do you think the gibbons have such long and muscular arms?” (Their arms help them swing through the trees.) “Why does the armadillo have a head that looks like it’s covered with armor, as well as a body that’s covered with small, bony plates?” (The armor and the small, bony plates protect it from being attacked by predators.) “Why is the snake the same brown color as the ground on which it spends most of its time?” (As snakes evolved, the brown ones didn’t get eaten as quickly.) As your children mature, they will understand more complex answers to these questions.

Categorize and Organize

// Children can learn about organization by seeing related animals. Have them compare the sizes, leg shapes, feet, ears, claws, feathers, or scales of various creatures. Ask them, “Does the lion look like a regular cat?” “How are they the same?” “Does the gorilla look like the baboon?”

Tips and Tricks

Here are a few suggestions to help make your visit worthwhile: Discuss expectations with your children ahead of time. What do they think they’ll find at the zoo? Very young or insecure children may go to the zoo with a more positive attitude if they are assured that it has food stands, water fountains, and bathrooms. Don’t try to see everything in one visit. Zoos are such busy places that they can overwhelm youngsters, particularly preschoolers and those in primary grades. Try to visit zoos at off times or hours (in winter, for example, or very early on a Saturday morning). This provides some peace and quiet and gives children unobstructed views of the animals. Look for special exhibits and facilities for children, such as “family learning labs” or petting zoos. Here, children can touch and examine animals and engage in projects specially designed for them. For example, at the HERPlab (derived from the word herpetology) at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, visitors can learn about reptiles and amphibians by doing everything from assembling a turtle skeleton to locating the different parts of a snake. Plan follow-up activities and projects. A child who particularly liked the flamingos and ducks may enjoy building a bird house for the back yard. One who liked the mud turtle may enjoy using a margarine tub as a base to a papier-maché turtle.

Get ready for the zoo with the book My Visit to the Zoo

Nancy Price (1 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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