Monday, 17 February 2014

The Zoo - Toddler crafts, activities and resources

A trip to the zoo is a fantastic day out for a toddler, although we took my son for the first time when he was just six months old. There is so much to see and learn about. If you are planning to take your young children to the zoo then it's great to read some books together first so that they know what to expect and start to learn the names of some of the animals. When you get back you can relive all the fun and excitement with some enjoyable crafts and activities. With such a wide range of animals found in zoos, the possibilities are almost endless!

Zoo crafts, activities and resources for toddlers

Zoo crafts

This Animal Handprint Alphabet is brilliant and contains plenty of animals which you are likely to see in a zoo, my favourites are the crocodile and the monkey!

Also from Red Ted Art I love this toilet roll animal zoo, again, lots of zoo favourites which are easy for young children to make.

This is a gorgeous little zoo inside a cardboard box, perfect for some small world play although a great deal of the fun is in actually making it!

I love this zebra in a cage craft that can be adapted for all zoo animals, just use some wool stretched across the picture to create a cage. The site includes printables for all the animals.

Zoo activities

Obviously the best zoo activity that you could arrange is a trip to a zoo. If all your children are younger than school age then take advantage of being able to visit in the quiet season on a school day, you may find that prices are cheaper then too. Otherwise keep an eye out for special offers and discount vouchers. If you have a good zoo nearby then it might be a good idea to think about buying a season ticket, or asking from relatives for Christmas and Birthday presents. Like all day trips, when you visit it's worth taking things slowly and don't feel that you need to see everything, better to spend a few hours there having fun than drag it out for a whole day and leave exhausted and grumpy!

If you can't get to an actual zoo, why not play zoos. You could make simple masks for children to wear, or set up a small world scene with some toy zoo animals and boxes to represent pens. You could extend this into some sensory play, perhaps using materials like rice or shredded wheat to fill the enclosures, or water for a penguin or seal exhibit.

Zoo books

Dear Zoo - An absolute classic which should definitely be in your toddler's library, Dear Zoo is a simple, repetitive lift-the-flap book which young children will love. There are also lots of different variations of the book available, for example a noisy version, one with different textures and a buggy book.

First Sticker Zoo - For slightly older toddlers, this book would be a great way to share memories of a trip to the zoo, with plenty of detailed illustrations and lots to talk about with your child.

Zoo Hullaballoo! - A great noisy book all about different zoo animals.

A Lift-The-Flap Shadow Book at the Zoo - Perfect for both younger and older toddlers, try and guess the animal from a shadow, then lift the flap to see if you are right.

Zoo toys

Playmobil 1.2.3 Large Zoo 6754 - We bought this set for my daughter for Christmas and she loves it, there are plenty of pieces including several people, for lots of role-playing and small world fun.

Lego Duplo My First Zoo - You can't go wrong with Duplo for young children of all ages, and this set, although simple, has plenty of pieces and play potential.

Zoo animals set in a tub - This is a set more suited to older toddlers and pre-schoolers, lots of small zoo animals in a tub which is a fantastic addition to the toy cupboard with lots of play value which will last for years.

Zoo animal finger puppets - Younger toddlers will love these finger puppets, great for entertaining them on long journeys. Pre-schoolers and older children will enjoy using them to act out their own puppet shows.

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