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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Toddler Summer School: Zoo Animal Week

I love the Zoo.  Budapest has a beautiful zoo, that I always loved to visit.  At 150 years old, it's one of the oldest zoos in the world.  The top of the elephant enclosure has famous Zsolnay porcelain tiles.  It's gorgeous!

I like Jacksonville's zoo too!  It was just named one of the top 25 zoos in the country by Tripadvisor.  They have regular $4 zoo days, in the summer if the temperature reaches 92 degrees, tickets are half-off, it has a great layout, a water area, a wonderful train, and great elephants and giraffes!

We took Aidan there the other day, and he loved it!

Aidan had SO MUCH FUN with his binoculars!
(I'm pretty sure it's a universal toddler thing, holding the binoculars the wrong way...)

This kiddo loves turtles!

So, I decided our next adventure would be "Zoo Animal" Week!  I don't know what it is about animals, but children almost always seem drawn to them!  This week looked like it was going to be fun, fun, fun!

Let's take a look at books:
First, we read the story of Noah from Aidan's Tiny Bear's Bible.  It's one of my favorite Bible stories, and this children's Bible does a wonderful job engaging little ears and hearts.

One of our favorites is Good Night Gorilla.  It's about a zoo keeper, who is locking up all the animals for the night, while unbeknownst to him, a gorilla is following him, and letting them all out.  If you just write the title in the pinterest search bar, all kinds of ideas pop up, on how to create interactive fun for kids based on the book.

We also really like Peek-A Who?.  It's a great rhyming book, and they all rhyme with "zoo", which is great practice for kids of any age, but the younger you can start, the better!

And last, but certainly not least, anything that has to do with Eric Carle is going to be a winner!  (Especially since nearly all of his book are about animals)  Aidan's two favorites are Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (I could retell you the entire book, without a glance, we've read it so much), and Baby Animals.  Both are spectacular, naturally, and Baby Animals has the added bonus of being a lift-flap and play-a-sound book!

Aidan making his "elephant" sound.

Secondly, let's take a look at snacks:

I didn't put as much energy into snacks this week, but I did make Aidan a little oasis, using bananas, grapes and animal crackers!  We had a little picnic on the patio!


Next, let's take a look at activities!!!

There are so many ideas out there, I didn't even know where to start!
But, as I said in the beginning, Good Night Gorilla has so much potential for fun!
So, I got started, by gathering up Aidan's gorilla pouch, a flash light, some toy keys, and bought a lock and key.

Aidan had a blast playing with the flash light, and his keys.
Then, we practiced some fine motor skills with the lock and key (which I bought at Home Depot).  At first, Aidan was getting frustrated, but that's a good thing!  It means it was stretching him to learn something new!


While I was scrolling through pinterest one day, I saw a wonderful idea on for a zoo animal lift a flap sensory board, which I then elaborated on.  You'll find detailed instructions here: Zoo Animal Sensory Board DIY.

I also made an animal-print matching game!

I really enjoy sensory activities, and I've come to find that they are some of Aidan's favorites too!
I put this Zoo Animal sensory box for Aidan, and he has played with it every single day this week!
The idea of a sensory box may seem daunting to you, but it's actually very simple.  For this one, I just used dry rice, zoo animal toys, zoo animal bath-time finger puppets, letters to spell out "zoo", and eventually a miniature decorative bird cage.  (I also suggest putting a table cloth underneath, so if there's any spillage, you're not vacuuming rice for days.)


The finger puppets ended up being great, as he could use them to pour the rice in and out.  The bird cage may seem weird and out of place, but to be fair, animals in zoos live in cages, and he had a lot of fun seeing how many of them he could fit in, and figuring out the latch.  Also, having letters he could feel, getting to stick his fingers through the middle of the "O" seemed to tickle him!

Aidan has also been blessed with some super-fun animal themed toys!  Here are just a couple.  Zany Zoo by B Toys, and World Ball by Crocodile Creek.


Making his "elephant" noise.

On to goopy-messy craft time!

Animals can teach little kids all kinds of useful information, but in a fun way.  One of the easiest, is how animals differ.  What sounds they make, what they look like, and what their foot prints look like.  For our first art project this week, I decided to compare the footprints of three animals through paint.  I chose black for a gorilla, gold for a giraffe and green for an alligator.  I laid them out very carefully, and meant to take a picture, but of course in toddler land everything happens at whirlwind speed, so that didn't happen.  But we really had a blast!  (We made a few, for grandparents, and my brother who is at West Point Military Academy- black and gold are their school colors, and the green for army didn't hurt either!)

I let Aidan choose his first color, and he picked black (such a hipster baby!).  I dipped the gorilla's feet in the black paint, said a quiet prayer for the carpet, and let him stamp away!


We moved on to green, and "Al the Gator", and ended with gold, and Sophie the Giraffe.


It was all about painting this week!  I rolled up bubble wrap to make it look like an alligator.  Rolled it in green paint, and let him roll it around on paper.


Since my parents are visiting, I wanted to make something special for both them and Aidan.  I found some really cool map scrapbook paper, painted their hands gray, stamped them, and added some detail.  What do you think?

Wherever in the World YOU are, know that you are LOVED!

And lastly, media:

I've mentioned this app before, but I really do love the Bible for Kids app.  This week we read Noah's Ark and the Creation story.

We also watched Tarzan (go-ri-lla may now be in our vocabulary) and Dumbo.  (Did you know, that Dumbo was made on a very low budget, to make up for the giant flop that was Fantasia??  It ended up being a HUGE hit!) 

Please share your thoughts!  What would you have added to your "Zoo Animal" Week?  Does your child enjoy going to the Zoo?

Join us next week for "Things That Go!"

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