Z is for Zoo Animals: Learning Activities for All Ages

My kids still sleep with a mound of stuffed animals around them. When I peek in on them before I go to bed I find they both stretched out on their backs dozing peacefully. Tucked under their arms and all around them are monkeys and giraffes and bears and bunnies with well worn ears and noses. An entire zoo right there in their bed.

Animals have been a huge part of their childhood so far. Most little kids seem fascinated by the world of animals.

We read endless imagination filled books about zoo animals and we tromp around the zoo in search of animals.

Since this is an interest that seems to follow children through childhood below are zoo animal ideas for every age baby through early elementary school.

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Zoo Animal Learning Activities by Age

Scroll down for zoo animal activities that are perfect for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and school aged kids!

Zoo Animal Activities for Babies

For Babies: Zoo Animal Peekaboo


easy diy zoo peekaboo

How to Make a Zoo Peekaboo Game


  • Laundry Basket / Table Top / Empty Wall
  • Animal Picture Pairs (Make your own or order these – note the ones linked are not identical to the ones I used when they were babies. I wish I had saved them but hindsight…the ones linked are instead the ones I made and have used since they were toddlers.)
  • Contact Paper
  • Tape

How to Make:

Select a surface at your child’s height to place the game. I did mine on the bottom of a flipped over laundry basket, but a short table, shelf, or low wall space would work well.

  1. Tape the full animal pictures onto the surface and cover in contact paper.
  2. Laminate the closer animal pictures.
  3. Tape one end of each closer animal picture on top of the matching pair.

That’s it! So easy, right?

Even better, this activity help develop the following skills:

  • Interesting reason to practice standing.
  • Fine motor practice as they work on lifting the flaps
  • Practice with cognitive and language skills as they recognize, name, and even make the noise of the animal they find.

Extension Ideas:

Make another version with something else that interests your child. Some ideas include;

  • Family members
  • Household items
  • Vehicles

4 More Zoo Animal Ideas for Babies

  1. Make a Song Cube like this one with Animal Pictures
  2. Read some awesome Zoo Animal Picture Books
  3. Sensory Zoo Activity: Exploring Animal Textures
  4. How to make a Sock Monkey (Craft for Mama, but what baby wouldn’t love playing with this?)

8+ Zoo Animal Activities perfect for Toddlers

For Toddlers: Zoo Animal Photo Cards

Toddler Zoo Animal Picture Cards for Matching

Toddlers are OBSESSED with learning new words. “What’s that?” or just “That?” was one of the most common phrases in our house at this age. This is the age for books of real images that they can look to and point at all day – and also for photo cards.

More ideas for matching games and other extensions are below but start with just the cards.


How to Make:

Use contact paper to cover the photos and make them more durable with all the inevitable drooling, mouthing, bending and general love that toddlers give all things

Toddler Zoo Animal Matching Cards

THEN place these cards in a basket or on a low table for your child to discover. When they do, let them explore. If they look to you or ask what something is, use simple words to talk to them about the cards. “You are looking at a giraffe” or “What do you see?”

This activity help develop the following skills:

  • new vocabulary
  • finger isolation when they point which helps later fine motor skills
  • social skills as they engage you in talking about the pictures

Extension Ideas:

  • Tell a story using your photo cards. Put them in a pile face down and flip over one at a time. “Once upon a time there was a lion and he went for a walk and ran into…flip over another card” It doesn’t really matter what your story is about. Keep it simple and just have fun.
  • Matching game. Use the close up and far away cards to match. Make it hard and play as a memory card game.
  • Match the card to a toy version of the animals. This picture to object matching is an important pre-literacy skill
  • Make a book or photo cards of a trip you take to a farm, the store, anywhere that interests them.

8 More Zoo Animal Ideas for Toddlers

  1. Learn this Hey Elephant Song (with printable visuals)
  2. Sensory Zoo Activity: Exploring Animal Textures
  3. Read some awesome Zoo Animal Picture Books
  4. Dear Zoo Story Spoons
  5. Zoo Animals Small World Play
  6. Easy Zebra Slime
  7. Animal Charades with Printable
  8. Paper Plate Bear Craft

12+ Zoo Animal Activities for Preschoolers

For Preschoolers: Zoo Animal Tracing

Zoo Animal Cards for Tracing with Preschoolers

Drawing and tracing lines is a pre-literacy skill that works on building the fine motor skills needed to write letters and words. Bonus – kids seem to find dry erase markers fascinating and fun.


How to Make:

Simply cover the zoo animal photos with contact paper.

Put the cards with the dry erase markers and wash cloth on a low table.

When your child is interested, invite them to use the dry erase marker to trace the animal.

Note: depending on the age of your preschooler “tracing” may look less like tracing and more like coloring on the animal. Go with it. 

Demonstrate tracing the edges of an animal of your own and then show them how to erase the marker with their wash cloth.

This activity help develop the following skills:

  • Fine Motor grip
  • Hand-eye coordination

Extension Ideas:

  • Add more details to the animal picture. Can they draw some food for the animal? What does the animal play with?
  • Play hide and seek with the animal cards. Hide the full photos around the room and give your preschoolers the zoomed in photos as clues / visual reminders of what to look for.

12 More Zoo Animal Ideas for Preschoolers

  1. Host a Safari Themed Playdate
  2. Animal Fashion Show
  3. Bears Picture Books + Big and Small Animals Sort
  4. Learn about Polar Bears with this awesome booklist
  5. Zoo Animals Theme with Sensory Play and Printables
  6. Zoo Animal Counting Mats
  7. Zoo Animal Books for Children and even more Zoo Animal Picture Books
  8. Zoo Centers and Activities
  9. Edible Zoo Animals Sensory Bin
  10. Zoo Themed Counting Clip Cards 1-10
  11. Dear Zoo Story Stones

Note: Many of the toddler and school age activities above and below may also work well for your child!

8+ Zoo Animal Learning Activities for Kindergarten and First Grade School Agers

For K & First Grade: Writing with Zoo Animal Cards

Zoo Animals Photo Cards Writing Prompt

I love finding ways to make writing more meaningful for my kids and we did this as part of their animal study.

They each had an animal that they love and wanted to learn more about. We took cameras to the Zoo. They took pictures and I took pictures of their favorite animals. We also talked about some of the things we observed their favorite animals doing.

Back at home I set this up as a writing invitation using our photo cards and also included a photo they had taken at the zoo of their favorite animal.


  • Zoo Animal Printable Photo Cards (use your photos or get these)
  • Contact Paper
  • Paper
  • Pencils and coloring tools

How to Make:

Laminate the cards and place on the table with the other materials.

THEN after your child has had some time to look at the cards and talk about them, as them to write about one or more of the animals.

Depending on your goals this activity will vary.

Kindergarteners might just draw a picture of the animal and work on using their best handwriting to label it with the animal’s name.

For slightly older elementary schoolers: If you are working on non-fiction, have them write a fact about the animal. If you’re working on just writing, have them write a story about the animal.

For my first graders doing an animal study, I asked them to write something they had learned and a question they still had. We used this question to go forward with their study.

This activity help develop the following skills:

  • Communicating using words and pictures.
  • Understanding the difference between fiction and non-fiction.
  • Adding details, capitalization and punctuation to their writing.

Extension Ideas:

  • Work on story telling. Give each child a card – or you take half and your child takes half – and go around the circle adding to a story using your photo as a prompt.
  • Draw or build a habitat for your chosen animal. Where do they live? What do they eat? What do they need to survive?

8 More Zoo Animal Activities for School Aged Kids

  1. Join Suzi’s FREE Wild Animal Passport Club for Kids
  2. Make Chocolate Strawberry Zebras for Snack
  3. Elephant Craft with Newspaper
  4. Going to the Zoo Interactive Book for Emergent Readers
  5. Jungle Animals Playset from Toilet Paper Rolls
  6. Complete the Animals Kids Craft Activity
  7. A-Z Animal Hunt
  8. Zoo Scavenger Hunt

Note: Many of the preschool activities above may also work for your child!

Zoo Animal Printable Photo Cards

Get Zoo Animals Photo Cards

Z is for…

Looking for more ideas? Here are some more Z ideas from the A-Z Play at Home series.

31 Days of ABC 2017 | Alldonemonkey.com

We’re nearing the end of a fantastic month of alphabet fun with the 31 Days of ABC! All this month activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet have been shared.

Find more great resources in our series from past years: 31 Days of ABCs 2013, 2014, and 2016!

Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!


31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs – October 1

All Done Monkey: Early Literacy – Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet

A – October 2

Creative World of Varya: A Is for Aromatherapy for Kids

B – October 3

Hispanic Mama: B Is For Bilingual Baby Books

C – October 4

Witty Hoots: C Is for Cool Fingerprint Castle Keyrings Tutorial

D – October 5

Teach Me Mommy: D Is for Dinosaurs DIY Sensory Bin

E – October 6

E Is for Environmental Print to Develop Literacy

F – October 7

Look! We’re Learning! F Is for Printable Farm Paper Bag Puppets

G – October 8

All Done Monkey: G Is for Go

H – October 9

All Done Monkey: H Is for Hello/Hola

I – October 10

Jeddah Mom: I Is for Ice Cream Craft and Sorting Activity

J – October 11

All Done Monkey: J is for Jirafa (Giraffe) – Spanish Coloring Page

K – October 12

Pennies of Time: K Is for Kindness

L – October 13

Schooling Active Monkeys: L Is for Lion Craft

M – October 14

Sugar, Spice & Glitter: M Is for Madeline Craft

N – October 15

All Done Monkey: N Is for Nature Crafts

O – October 16

Kitchen Counter Chronicles: O Is for Owl Bookmark Printable

P – October 17

Creative World of Varya: P Is for Phonological Awareness in Toddlers

Q – October 18

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Q Is for Quito’s Middle of the World Monument Kids Craft

R – October 19

JDaniel4’sMom: R Is for Decorating Robots in Sensory Bags

S – October 20

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: S Is for Spanish Resources for Kids

T – October 21

Sand In My Toes: T Is for DIY Truck Puzzle

U – October 22

The Educators’ Spin On it: U Is for Unicorn

V – October 23

CrArty: V Is for Van Gogh

W – October 24

My Story Time Corner: W Is for Wheels on the Bus

X – October 25

The Mommies Reviews: X

Y – October 26

Teach Me Mommy: Y Is for Yarn Letters

Z – October 27

Bambini Travel: Z Is for Zoo Animals

123’s – October 28

Creative World of Varya: Montessori Inspired Printable

Prewriting – October 29

Witty Hoots

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

Witty Hoots: Top 5 List

Printables – October 31

Royal Baloo and Logi-Bear Too

35+ Zoo Animal Unit Learning Activity Ideas for All Ages including Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers and Early Elementary School Kindergarten and First Graders

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