early childhood education Preschool
Activities for Animal Themes
Animal activities that include a recipe for Monkey Bread and ideas for preschool and kindergarten games. A zoo literacy lesson plan, dramatic play fun, science activities, graphing, counting, art, and craft projects are all here. There are lots of preschool activities for a Zoo theme!

If you're looking for Farm Animals or Circus & Clown Activities  or Birds
go to the Rainbow Resource Room

Preschool Animal Activity Theme

Dramatic Play: "Zoo Keeper"
Teachers provide the props and youngsters provide the creativity during this preschool activity by Nancy V.

Materials: Nets, boots, gloves, pail, plastic shovel or scoop, hay, pictures of animals and zoo keepers also stuffed animals.

Description: Set out the materials.  Children can pretend to be a zoo keepers working at the zoo and feeding the animals.

Literacy and Art: "The Zoo Book"
Have kindergarten and older children experience going to the the zoo without going to a real zoo (well, not until the end of the unit)
during this art and literacy lesson by Heather F.

Materials: Books of different animals that are found in the zoo.  they can be factual books or they can be regular picture books, the other material needed is crayons. 

Description: Teachers ask children to write their own stories of what the animals they will see at the zoo (young children can just draw animals) and then have them illustrate it.  After they have done that have them share their books with the class, if they would like.  The students will benefit from hearing the other stories as well as writing their own.
Comments: The teacher should make the covers with 2 pieces of cardboard and glue the two edges together.  Then have the children create a illustration on the cover.

Circus and Clown Activities are in the Rainbow Resource Room.

farm art activityFeathered Friends
While studying farm animals Shauna R. helps preschool children make a feathered animal that you see on a farm.

Materials: Gold and orange yarn, and brown rice.

Description: Teachers pre cut a duck for all of your children. Then give each child a handful of gold and orange yarn cut into small pieces. The gold yarn is used for the beak of the duck. Then you use the orange yarn for the feet. The children then spread glue over the rest of the ducks body, pouring rice over the glue. Pour enough to make a thick coat. Dump the excess rice and BAM you have a feathered friend.

Comments: I did the activity with my 3 and 4 year olds and they loved using the rice to make a animal. A lot of them only thought of rice as a delicious meal item.

The Farm Theme and Bird Activities are in the Rainbow Resource Room

Clothes Pin Giraffe
Kim J. suggests that preschool and kindergarten children use fine motor skills during this craft activity for circus or zoo themes.

Materials: 2 clothes pins, "Z" shape cut out of yellow construction paper, brown ripped up pieces of construction paper and a marker to draw eyes and mouth.

Description:  Young children can cut their own "Z" from yellow construction paper or it can be precut by adult. Brown construction paper pieces are ripped by children and glued onto the "Z". Next, eyes and mouth are drawn with the marker. Finally, clothes pins are clipped on bottom of the "Z" to make the legs of the giraffe.

Comments: The children love making this craft.  It is very adaptable  to different age groups.

Cooking: Animal Face Sandwiches
Children have fun creating animals for snack during this cool cooking activity by Melody R. Try these sandwiches during circus and zoo themes or for national pet week.

Materials: Bread, peanut butter, raisins, pickles, carrots, plastic
knives and a carrot grater.

Description: Let children make animal face sandwiches for sanctum. Give them each a slice of whole wheat toast and have them spread on peanut butter. Let them place raisins in the centers of their toast slices to make eyes and noses. Then give them thin slivers of pickles to add for whiskers and grated carrots to sprinkle on for fur.

Paper Plate Lions
During this early childhood craft activity by Angela V. children use fine motor and creative skills.

Materials: Paper plates, orange, yellow, brown and red yarn, yellow cotton balls, markers, crayons, glue and construction paper.

Description: Use the paper plate as the lions head. Glue yellow cotton balls or colored yarn all around the paper plate for the lion's mane. Have the children draw and color the face of the lion. Cut out ears from construction paper and glue them to the top of the paper plate. If desired, cut out the eyes of the lion, to make a mask!

animal and circus action song "One Elephant Went Out One Day"
This group action song about sent by Trudi D. promotes counting, movement and friendship. It can be used during a circus or zoo theme.

Description: All children sit in a circle on the floor. One child gets up and imitates an elephant with one arm dangling like a trunk, and the other arm dangling behind like a tail. The child then skips around the circle while everyone sings:

One elephant went out one day,
Upon a spiders web to play,
He / she had such tremendous fun,
That he called for another elephant to come.

The child then picks a friend to come and join him/her.
The friend stands behind the first child in the same position holding hands, as if they are elephants in the circus.
Everyone then continue to sing as the two elephants
skip around them:

Two elephants went out one day,
Upon a spiders web to play,
They had such tremendous fun,
That they called for another elephant to come.

This continues with each new elephant picking a friend until everyone is up. Then everyone sings for example:

Five elephants went out one day,
Upon a spiders web to play,
They had such tremendous fun,
But the web it broke and they all fell down.
 Everyone then falls to the floor

Comments: I have used this song with the kids at my "nanny music" club which I run for nannies and their charges, and I also used it in the nursery I managed in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Game: "Guess The Animals"
Animal cookies make this both a fun game and a treat for preschoolers as they learn about animals during this lesson plan by Jenifer.  Adaptable for older children, who can play as a game of charades.

Materials: A bag of animal cookies.

Description: Teachers provide a bag of animal cookies and invite the children to take turns pulling a cookie out of the bag. Younger children can act out the noise the animal makes or movements that animal does. The other children get to guess what animal they have. Older children that understand charades can act out the animal any way they need to.  Children 8 and up can make it as a game of pictionary, using a board or paper.
Comments: You get to eat your animal after it has been guessed!

Enhance your curriculum with picture books about animals take a look at
Picture Books Listed By Themes

Dramatic Play: "Animal Cracker Charades"
Add this early childhood activity by Merrie K. to your animal or circus theme and provide youngsters with a movement and language experience.

Materials: 1 Box of Animal Crackers and a tape recorder.

Description: Teachers choose one child to pick out an animal cracker, so no one can see which one is picked.  The child turns away from the others and eats the cracker. Now, the child  "becomes" that animal and pretends to be it through motions.The other children must guess what animal it is.  The one who guesses correctly is the next cracker eater.
Comments: As a follow up, give each older student an animal cookie. Students write a creative story about their animals, then eat the cookies. Younger children can dictate their story to the teacher or into a tape recorder.

Animal Movements
Encourage children's creative expression through movement with this preschool education activity by Elisa H.

Materials: Pictures of animals (National Wildlife is good)

Description: Ask the children to move around like different animals. Can be played like charades, worked into zoo units or have a parade. You can add sound, to calm children down in the end. Pick slithery animals like snakes or stalking cats or silently swooping owls.

Enhance your curriculum with action rhymes, fingerplays and songs take a look at Nursery Rhymes about Animals

monkey song "The Itsy Bitsy Monkey Song"
Toddlers and young preschoolers enjoy singing this song by Shari D. as they learn about monkeys.

Sing this song to the tune of The Itsy Bitsy Spider:

 The itsy bitsy monkey climbed up the coconut tree.
 Down came a coconut and bumped him on the knee.
 Out came his mommy and wiped away his tears
 And the itsy bitsy monkey climbed up the tree again.
Teachers can replace "itsy bitsy" with "great big".

Cooking: "Monkey Bread"
Combine science with motor skills when cooking this bread recipe by Lorria.

Materials: Frozen roll dough around 15, melted butter, cinnamon and sugar 

Description: We were studying about animals and I had this recipe for Monkey Bread. I am not sure why they call it Monkey bread but they do. You take the slightly frozen dough and cut it in fourths. Then have the children put it in the melted butter and  roll it in the sugar and cinnamon. Next, put it in the slightly buttered loaf pan. Cover loosely with saran wrap and let rise over 

The next morning put it in the oven on 350 and bake for about 30 minutes. The children were so excited that they had made Monkey bread. They had a wonderful time licking their fingers.

For lots of recipes and cooking experiences take a look at the
Food and Nutrition Theme in the Rainbow Resource Room.

Game: "Freddie the Frog"
Promote eye hand coordination, motor skills and spatial awareness with this game by Pixie L.

Materials: A bean bag box and bean bag.
Description: This can be done in a small group, sitting or standing.  Put a box in the center of a small circle of children.  Give one child the bean bag.  Everyone chants:

Freddie the Frog went to jump on a log
And, SPLASH, he fell into the pond.
On the word "SPLASH", the child throws the bean bag into the box in the center of the circle.  Keep repeating until everyone has a turn with the bean bag.
Comments: This is a fun small group activity!

Science and Art: "Terrific Toads"
To help pre-school and kindergarten children learn the difference between frogs and toads, and to learn about toads in general, Elisa H. shares this early childhood activity.

Materials: Book: Frog and Toad are Friends, brown construction paper with the out line of a toad, bird seed and glue.

Description: Teachers read the book and then provide the toad outlines. Let the kids put big splotches of glue on the paper. For best results use straight glue, not mixed with water. Sprinkle on 
bird seed. When dry: It's bumpy like a real toad!

Follow up by making "toad houses". Cut an oatmeal container in half, cut out a door, hide outside in summer and wait to see if you get a toad. It really works! Remember to let the toad go after you look at it.
Comments: The toads look really neat!

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