Tips to inspire learning & curiosity with a trip to the zoo

A trip to the zoo is a fun learning and multi-sensory experience. The zoo is an excellent place for your child to learn what animals look like, smell like and sound like. Your child may even get to touch animals in a petting zoo. Occasionally zoos allow visitors to feed a griaffe or other animal, which is great fun and gives your kid an up-close experience with an animal.

giraffeThe zoo will expose your child to new words as you talk about what you see. Zoo animals also encourage curiosity. What is that? What does it eat? How does a monkey glide along the treetops? What sound does an elephant make? Each visit to the zoo is a shared adventure and an opportunity to learn more about wildlife and nature.

There is awe and wonder in a child’s eyes when they see a giraffe or tiger for the first time. The Topeka Zoo‘s tropical rainforest and butterfly pavilion give you the opportunity to walk among animals. A visit to the zoo is the perfect field trip and you’ll learn something new every time.

Prompts to inspire curiosity and learning

  • tropical birdUse your senses. Ask your kids what about they see, hear, smell and feel?
  • Introduce new words and concepts (hippopotamus, herbivore, nocturnal, etc.)
  • Ask questions to stimulate thinking and imagination.
    • What animal is your favorite and why?
    • What animal would you like to be and why?
  • Read the zoo’s informational signs aloud and talk about them.
  • Notice animal behavior and movement. Ask your child to walk like a bear, stand like a flamingo or imitate other animal movements.

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Tips to make your visit to the zoo successful

  • Pack a snack.
  • Visit in the morning.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Know the locations of the restrooms.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Read a book about your favorite zoo animal before or after your visit.

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As the Early Childhood Learning Coordinator, Sherry is focused on engaging young children and their families in play-based early learning experiences. The Learn & Play Bus and its service are at the heart of her work. Sherry has a background in early childhood education.