This storytime is all about visiting the zoo and the animals you will see there. Here you will find zoo-themed book suggestions, songs, felt board activities, and a paper bag tiger puppet craft! This is one of my favorite storytimes I have ever done. My preschool kiddos were laughing nearly the whole time! :)
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.
My Dad at the Zoo (Coralie Saudo & Kris DiGiacomo)
I hadn't heard of this one before, but it is HILARIOUS! A little boy's father goes bananas for a zoo, throwing tantrums, flirting with the flamingos, and so on. This one is best for older kids as it is a bit lengthier and they would have to understand the humor of dad not acting how you'd expect a dad to act.
The Baby Beebee Bird (Diane Redfield Massie)
Miss Michaela and I did this one together. She read while I used a little bird puppet. I hid the puppet behind the book and whenever the beebee bird made noise, I popped the bird out and said his lines really loud. This is a fun story of revenge, as the zoo animals decide to get back at the beebee bird after a sleepless night.
This Zoo Is Not For You (Ross Collins)
A platypus shows up at the zoo gates. All the animals assume he wants to be hired for a role at the zoo. The prideful, not-so-nice animals explain why he would not be a good fit, only to find out he wanted to invite them to a party.
Other Great Zoo Books:
1. Mr. Putney's Quacking Dog (Jon Agee) - Mr. Putney has many unusual animal friends in this book full of puns.
2. My Family is a Zoo (K.A. Gerrard) - A boy and his family have adopted many fun animals. They take a road trip, picking up the animals on their way to a mystery destination.
3. Never, Ever Shout in a Zoo (Karma Wilson) - This book explores how shouting at the zoo can lead to a frightening situation.
4. Zebra On the Go (Jill Nogales) - During a circus performance, a zebra accidentally steps on lions toe, leading to a wild chase.
You can find more zoo books and activity suggestions at my zoo animals toddler storytime blog over here.
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.
There Was a Crocodile
As performed by Jbrary
There was a crocodile, (clap arms)
An orangutan, (curl arms like scratching pits)
A flying eagle, (flap arms)
And a silvery fish. (wiggle hands together)
A bunny, (two fingers on head)
A beaver, (two fingers for teeth)
A crazy elephant, (make trunk with arm)
Da-na-na-na-na-na (two fingers, grooving)
The Animals at the Zoo (Great with finger puppets!)
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.
Paper Bag "Tiger" Puppet Craft
This was technically labeled as a jaguar puppet, but we called it a tiger, as this was a good transition from our reading of Don't Wake Up the Tiger into the craft (though you can find an actual tiger printable. I was just lazy, as these were already pre-printed for me).
You can print the jaguar/tiger out here.
We just colored in our different tiger parts and glued them to the paper bag. The kids were really proud of theirs!