Zoo Unit
Journal Topics:
*What animals live in the zoo?  Describe them in sentences; then illustrate them.
*If you were a zoo-keeper, how would you start you day?  Which animals would be your
favorites?  Which animals would be your least favorite?
*Which zoo animals are herbivores?  Carnivores?  How do you know?
*Draw yourself at the zoo.  Write about the animals you want to visit first.
*Draw some zoo animals in their natural habitat.  Which ones live in the jungle? The
desert?  In swamps?  Etc.
Shared Reading
Zoo-Looking by Mem Fox
Bubble Gum by Gail Jorgensen
Focus Poetry
Center Ideas:
writing: "At the zoo, _________."       "Zebras ____________."

fine motor: perforate the word "zoo" on the Lite Brite,
trace: a zebra, gorilla, lion, or elephant

art: paint a giraffe,  make a lion mask with curled-paper mane

science: sort magazine pictures of wild animals by number of legs
(no legs, 2 legs, or 4 legs)
Rumble in the Jungle   by Giles  Andreae
*Read and discuss this book about wild animals.   The pages describe the
characteristics of each animal.  As a class, brainstorm/write a list of descriptive
words for some of the animals (hippopatomus, giraffe, lion, chimpanzee, etc.) .  
Students may then use these lists to illustrate and fill in the blanks in their own  
"Jungle" booklet:
"The lion ___________."   "The gorilla ___________."
"The rhinoceros ___________."  "The snake ___________."

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins
*Read and discuss this fact-filled book about wild animals.  From the descriptions
in the text, create "animal riddles"  (This animal has four legs.  This animal is gray.
 It is the largest land animal, etc.)   Students work in pairs to compose as many
riddles as they can.  They go "quiz" other peers, students/teachers in other grades,
then they take them home to "quiz" their parents.
Lots of fun!

The Zoo Book   by Jan Pfloog
*After reading, have the students "buzz" about the animals they want to see at the
zoo.  Give each student an old magazine (
National Geographic is best!) to cut
pictures of wild animals.  Students should find 6-8 pictures, glue them to large
index cards, and label them by name.  Then they are given the following words
(copied on cardstock for durability):
"At"  "I"  "see"  "zoo"  "can"  "the"  
Students cut the words apart, place in logical order ("At the zoo, I can see..."), and
add an animal card at the end to complete the sentence.  They may read their
sentences to a peer, a younger student, or they may write their sentences in a
self-made book.

The Mixed Up Chameleon   by Eric Carle

Monkeys   by Susan Canizares

Zoo-Looking   by Mem Fox
*Read this great Mem Fox tale about a little girl's visit to the zoo.  Students will
follow the book's pattern to create what they want to see at the zoo:
I looked at the
_____ and the ______ looked back.
Students create torn paper models/pictures of
their animals, too.

Color Zoo  by Lois Ehlert
*Students are provided with lots of (pre-cut) shapes, in various colors and sizes.  
Using their knowledge of zoo animal characteristics and shapes, they create
animals.  Some students even want to add "zoo details"  (cage bars, ropes, tire
swings, rocks, etc).

Put Me In the Zoo   by Robert Lopshire

Good Night, Gorilla   by Peggy Rathman
*Our classes love the idea that the animals sneak out of the zoo and into BED with
the zookeeper!  This is a great one to act out while students take turns reading the

Dear Zoo    by Rod Campbell
*After reading this book, students complete their own "Dear Zoo" booklet, with
descriptive flaps for each animal (
"too naughty,"
"too tall,"
etc.).   This activity can be found in the Teacher Created Materials
Thematic Animals Unit.

Zoo Do's & Don'ts   by Todd Parr
*Following the cues from the book, each table of students (four students per table)
creates its own "Zoo Do's & Don'ts" list.  Once they've finalized the lists, they
transfer them to posterboard, complete with illustrations.   These are a great
review before our trip to the zoo!

If I Ran the Zoo   by Dr. Seuss
*The title itself leads to the obvious activity in creative writing.  Students spend 5-7
minutes elaborating/sharing their responses before writing/illustrating what would
"If I ran the zoo....."   

My Visit to the Zoo    by Aliki
*After reading this book, we make predictions about what OUR visit to the zoo will
be like, filling in the blanks on a predictable chart:  
Maybe we will see a _______.
Or maybe we will see a _______.
Maybe we will see a _______.
Or maybe we will see a ______.

Inside a Zoo in the City   by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
*The text in this story builds upon itself, adding a new character on each page.  
Our classes love to read this book over and over again.
Students recreate their own zoo rebus story using animal stickers.

If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo  by Mary Jean Hendrick
*Students love this silly tale about a little girl who gives an open invitation to the
zoo animals "if anything ever goes wrong at the zoo."   After reading and
discussing the story, students write their own invitations to the zoo, explaining how
they could take care of certain animals (the monkeys, because they have a banana
tree in the back yard, etc.) :
Dear Zookeeper,
If anything ever goes wrong at the zoo,
You can send me the  ____________
because I have ___________________ .


Miss Mary Mack   by Mary Ann Hoberman
*This is a "souped-up" version of the traditional chant.  It is the perfect book for
finding rhyme pairs and creating NEW couplets.

Zoo   by Gail Gibbons
*After reading this book, we make a list of all the animals in it.  We review
alphabetizing by putting the first four in "ABC order" as a group.  Students are
given a sentence strip and a page divided into 10 blocks (9 blocks with animal
clipart and name, 1 blank block).  Students illustrate/label a different zoo animal in
the empty block.  Then they cut the blocks apart and glue them in alphabetical
order on the sentence strip (vertically is usually easier for them).

From Head to Toe   by Eric Carle

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?   by Eric Carle
*After reading this patterned book, students create their own
At the Zoo... booklet.  Students illustrate the appropriate animal (Flamingo,
elephant, polar bear, etc.) and add speech bubbles to each page, following the text
"Flamingo, flamingo,"
I said at the zoo.
"Flamingo, flamingo,"
I like you!
More Zoo Literature and Music!

Click on book covers for summaries, reviews, and purchase info from Amazon.com.
*Students estimate plastic animals.
*Students estimate how many animal crackers in a box, then sort and
graph them (
AIMS activity).
*Students sort animal pictures by number of feet (4 feet, 2 feet, 0 feet).
*Students sort then create an AB pattern of wild and domestic animals.
*Students graph their favorite animals.
*Students graph whether or not they've ever been to the zoo.
*Students sort animal pictures by what they eat (herbivore, carnivore,
Science/Social Studies:
*We spend a lot of time discussing the characteristics and unique features of wild/zoo
animals.   A great way to introduce these characteristics is to teach students to draw
animals (realistically) step-by-step.  (It's amazing what you can tell about students'
thinking by seeing the results of directed drawing lessons!)

*After drawing each animal, students dictate which body parts to label.  It's an easy
assessment to let them lead this activity.  Some children have never heard the word
"hoof" or "mane" before, so this can easily become a vocabulary lesson as well.

*To further emphasize unique characteristics of the animals, we write a chart following
the pattern:
"The important thing about
elephants is that they have trunks ."
"The important thing about ________ is that they have ______."
Zany Zoo Animals