Friday, March 18, 2011

Picture Books for Your Day at the Zoo

With spring emerging, many families and classes will be heading to the zoo.   It is a terrific place to visit.  Two of my favorite memories are zoo trips.  On one of them, I was with my boyfriend (now, husband).  I felt like I was walking on air as we held hands, gazed into each other’s eyes, and oh, yea, saw the amazing animals at the Philadelphia Zoo!  The second best one was a class field trip when my daughter was in fourth grade.  I drove three hours with my daughter, her friend, and her friend’s mom.   The trip there and back was as fun as the zoo!   I am always in awe at the diversity and creativity that is reflected in God’s creation.  Zoos are one of the best places to get a glimpse of His work.   

Before you head off for a memorable trip to the zoo, read What’s New at the Zoo?  and ‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day from Sylvan Dell. 

NewZoo.phpWhat’s New at the Zoo? (ages 2-6) by Suzanne Slade  
A mother and her son are going on an animal adventure at the zoo.  Together, they count the number of animals at each exhibit or habitat.  The two-page spreads depict groups of animals interacting both together and with their environments.  A short poetic riddle describes each location.  Here is a sample: 

Five fuzzy brown bears
Snuggle close and smile.
Two cubs wiggle in.
How many in the pile?

Then, at the bottom of each scene is an addition problem: 5 + 2 =.   There are so many excellent teaching opportunities just from sitting down and reading What’s New at the Zoo?  to your children, such as alliteration, rhyme, animal names (including male, female, and baby), counting, and adding.  Of course, your kids will be inspired to have their own animal adventure as they count animals on your zoo day trip.  Sylvan Dell provides a 50-page Teaching Guide and other resources at its website. 

ZooDay.php'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day (ages 3-8) by Catherine Ipcizade  
This entertaining adaption of the famous ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem brings the animal preparations and habits to life.  There is excitement and anticipation in the air.  Meerkats are watching from their dens while nibbling on bugs.  The dirty, naughty elephants spray the zoo keepers with their trunks and frolic in the cool mud.  The llamas are instructed not to spit.  Other animals are more laid back like the lions slumbering with their heads on their paws and turtles hiding in their shells.  Some animals are discontented:  The Zebras feel their stripes have gotten too dull, so they wish to have polka dots.  Each page is written as an amusing, rhyming stanzas:

With big wooly paws and eyes like the night,
the black bears look scary and cause a fright.
But they really like frolicking out in the sun.
It's true they roar loudly, but mostly for fun. 

As the sun goes down, the zookeepers leave the animals to rest up for the big day.  The next morning, a flood of enthusiastic children enter the zoo for Zoo Day.  Read 'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day before you trip to the zoo.  Through the entertaining text and beautiful illustrations, children will learn about animal habits and temperaments, the zoo keeper's job, poetry, and rhyme.  Sylvan Dell provides a 33-page Teaching Guide and other resources at its website to use with your lesson plans or as fun activities. 

Check out SanDiegoZooKids for games, activities, and animal information (pictures, facts, and videos).   


  1. These look so cute. My son would love them.


    I just became a GFC and Twitter follower

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. My great-niece would love either of these delightful zoo books! One of my most favorite
    zoo visits is when our oldest son was around
    3 years old. We took him to the Children's Zoo
    and when a couple of young goats began to chew on
    his shorts, he was terrified. We quickly calmed him down and then he enjoyed the rest of the zoo.
    I follow you via Google Friend Connect (windycindy) and I follow you on Twitter. (cmh512)
    "Tweet" ~
    Many thanks to you!

  4. Such great books! Both of my kids love animals, so any time I see a zoo book, I'm drawn to it! Each year we go to Virginia Beach and the Virginia Zoo. My favorite zoo memory is of my daughter when she was 19 months old. It was her first trip to the zoo. She got to feed a giraffe (her favorite animal) and was amazed at it's long black tongue. So neat to watch her interact with such a large animal. Everywhere we walked after that exhibit, Abby picked grass which she wanted to go back and give to the giraffe. Later that night at the hotel, she literally talked for 45 mins non-stop (half-words/ half-baby babble) about the animals at the zoo!


  5. Thanks for the giveaway! My favorite zoo memory is the time my son (who was 5 at the time but is now 25) and I went to the zoo! It was just he and I, spending time together, and enjoying a leisure day at the zoo. Nothing spectacular, just "mommy and me" time.


  6. My favorite day at the zoo was when my daughter was a toddler. She's 19 now. The sun was so bright & she lost her hat. We bought her a leopard print bandana & tied it around her head. She had sunglasses on & her stroller was always her "throne". She sat back, through her hands out to the side like Ahhhh....this is the life. Luckily I got a picture of it!

    I am a GFC and Twitter follower & tweeted about this contest. My granddaughter & daughter will enjoy reading this if I win!

  7. I am a GFC Follower (Karen) and twitter (kappavelvit).

    My favorite trip to the zoo was when my oldest son who has Asperger's saw the gorillas and thought they were our family based on a book we had read. He named them Nana, Pop, Mom, Dad, Me, and (so on throughout our family). It was SO funny, and to this day he's not completely convinced that we aren't related to them somehow;)

    kpuleski at gmail dot com

  8. I'll be taking 100 kindergarteners to the zoo April 19th! I can't wait. Most of these kids have never been more than 10 blocks from home, so the 10 mile ride to the zoo alone will be an adventure for these little guys!
    Google & twitter follower..retweeted the contest too. sparkshapATaolDOTcom

  9. I follow via GFC! I am excited we will get to go to aquarium soon!
    lexigurl_17 (at) hotmail (dot) com

  10. I also follow on twitter @lexigurl_17

  11. I follow via GFC.
    My favorite zoo memory was taking my daughter to the Ripley's aqarium in Gatlinburg and seeing her eyes grow really wide as we went under the shark tunnel. Also taking my son to the local zoo and seeing his eyes grow wide at all the fish tanks and the manatees!



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