This storytime is designed to teach toddlers all about zoo animals. We will read three books, do a number of songs and movement activities, and finish off with a sloth craft. For more zoo themed ideas, please see my "Trip to the Zoo" preschool storytime page.
These Books Are Bananas!
Dear Zoo (Rod Campbell)
This book is available in pop-up and lift-the-flap form. I have the pop-up book. Kids love guessing which animal is hiding in the different boxes! This is a great intro book to get kids remembering the different kinds of animals they might see at the zoo.
Peek-a-Zoo! (Marie Torres Cimarusti)
This lift-the-flap book is great for little ones. The animals hold their paws over their faces as if they are playing peek-a-boo. We have to guess who the animal is, then we lift the flap to see the face. We then make the sound they make, such as peek-a-roar!
Don't Wake Up the Tiger (Britta Teckentrup)
This one isn't exactly zoo themed, but it is several animals including a tiger and it is one of those fun interactive stories! Tiger is sleeping and the animals don't want to wake her. They decide they will use balloons to float over tiger, but it isn't as easy they thought. Readers will have to help blow the balloons higher in the air and lull Tiger back to sleep with lullabies and gentle pats. The kids love how this one ends!
More Great Zoo Books:
Ferocious Felt Board Fun
Flannel Rhyme: 5 Little Monkeys Swinging From a Tree
Tune: 5 Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed
Five little monkeys swinging from a tree,
Teasing Mr. Alligator, “Can’t catch me!”
Along comes Mr. Alligator, quiet as can be!
And SNAPS that monkey right out of the tree!
(Continue until there is one monkey left, but alligator misses him and the monkey says “Missed me, missed me now you’ve gotta kiss me!” and gives him a noisy kiss!)
Flannel Game: Animal Escape
I got this idea from the book Felt Board Fun (For Everyday & Holidays) by Liz & Dick Wilmes. You can use whatever animals you have from other sets. Put them on the board and ask the kids which animals they see. Then, explain that the board is the zoo and the animals are going to escape, but they have to guess which animal is escaping when.
Give a hint like, "I'm thinking of an animal with a long neck."
When the kids guess the animal, take the animal off the board and have it "run away" to one of the kids, a teacher, or a parent. Have them hide the animal behind the back.
Continue until all of the animals have escaped the zoo, then it is time to find the animals! Have the kids try to remember who had each animal/where each animal is hiding! The game ends once you have "rescued" all the animals.
Zoo Themed Songs & Activities
There are many, MANY great animal songs and activities out there that can be utilized for storytime. These are just a few suggestions.
Sss Sss Went the Slippery Snake
I did this one a little differently than Jbrary, because I don't want to say the snakes don't say sss sss when they really do! So, I changed that to "and they go."
I used the snake, bird, and monkey verses below:
Sss, ssss went the slippery snake one day,
Sss, ssss went the slippery snake!
Sss, ssss went the slippery snake one day,
And they all went sss, sss, sss!
But... we know snakes go (clap) shoe-be-do-be-do
(clap) shoe-be-do-be-do, (clap) shoe-be-do-be-do
We know snakes go (clap) shoe-be-do-be-do
And they go sss, sss, sss
Bird: cheep, cheep/flappy, flappy, flap
Monkey: Ooo Ooo/swing-a-ling-a-ling
The Animals at the Zoo (free finger puppets here!)
Tune:“The Wheels on the Bus”
The bear at the zoo goes “Grr, grr, grr,”
“Grr, grr, grr. Grr, grr, grr.”
The bear at the zoo goes “Grr, grr, grrr,”
All day long.
The monkey at the zoo goes “Ooo, ooo, ooo…”
The hippo at the zoo goes “Splash, splash, splash…”
The lion at the zoo goes “Raar, raar, raar…”
The elephant at the zoo goes “Stomp, stomp, stomp…”
Zoo Animals Action Game
These printable cards can be used in a number of ways. It was suggested to make them into a rolling dice game, but I just ended up using them like flash cards. I had the kids identify the animal then we mimicked the actions together.
Here are some more ideas if you want to just call out actions/make your own cards:
1. Roar like a lion
2. Stretch like a giraffe
3. Splash like a hippo
4. Stand on one foot like a flamingo
5. Fly like a bird
6. Gallop like a zebra
7. Slither like a snake
Craft: Sloth on a Stick (Tree)
This sloth is simple to make and kids love giving their clothes. I made mine a fancy lady with frilly underpants and costume necklaces.
All you need is brown and tan construction paper, large craft sticks, glue, and markers or crayons to draw on the face and accessories.