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Going to the zoo is not only an exciting day trip, but also a learning opportunity for children. Your children get to see all sorts of animals they might have not seen before. A zoo trip offers kids opportunities to know different animal species, their natural habitats and behavior.
In this article we take a look at how you can prepare for a zoo trip and what your child will learn.
Preparation and What They Learn
Kids Aged Between 2 and 5 Years
It is very likely that your little one is only familiar with the home pets and cartoons. You should take this opportunity to introduce your child to the different wild animals he will see in the zoo.
Some days before the trip, take some time with your child and read about animals using children books. Some suitable books include: The Furry Animal Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallota and An A to Z Walk in the Park by R.M. Smith. Go on further to create an alphabetical checklist of all the likely zoo animals.
On the D-day, carry the checklist and check it whenever you come across an animal on the list. After you’ve identified and checked off all the wild animals, have a discussion with your little one about the animals she came across.
Children Between 5 and 8 Years Old
Between ages 5-8, kids tend to have an interest in the family institution and the roles played by parents and children in families. Take advantage of this curiosity and extend it to the animal families he is likely to see at the zoo.
In addition to that, children find the names of the animal offspring fascinating. Just like before, you can start by introducing your child to animal babies using children books like the Animal Babies ABC by Barbara Knox.
On your zoo trip, search for animals displayed in groups, especially the primates like baboons, monkeys, herds of antelope and deer. Study how the animals take care of their young offspring. For every animal exhibit, ask your kid if she recalls the name of the animal baby.
At the end of the expedition, compare notes. Ask your child what sort of things the animal parents did to take care of their young offspring. You may have seen that the animals carry their babies, feed them, or watch over them.
Kids from 9-12 Years of Age
Older kids have an interest in knowing the habitats of different species of animals. You can begin by talking about your home environment. Let your child observe the differences between how his room was previously arranged when he was younger and how it is set up now.
This conversation about how the needs of a child change as he grows up leads smoothly into a talk about how different animal species require certain environments to stay comfortably, happily and healthily.
To make your child know more about habitats, you may want to make him think of how the zoo keepers ensure that animals from different parts of the world stay safe, comfortable and healthy.
When you arrive at the zoo, you can easily take your child through the different animal habitats. Since every zoo animal is kept in an environment that mimics its natural habitat, ask your child some questions such as, “Why are the reptiles kept in a humid area?” or “Why are there numerous trees in the monkey exhibit?”
You will be able to discuss why all the habitats are set up in certain ways and what the animals gain from their environment.
Additional Preparation Points
- Visit the individual zoo website and look at the scheduled events by yourself.
- Identity the best time to visit the zoo. Quite a number of zoo animals tend to be active in the morning hours when the zoo opens and after eating. Also take into account the weather and time of year.
- If you don’t want to run into large crowds, avoid planning your zoo trip on major holidays.
- Get a map of the zoo you’re visiting so that you don’t skip any of the exhibits.
- Locate the play zones to allow your kids to rest a bit.
- Identity the eateries or picnic tables where you will have lunch. If you want to save money, you can carry food from home and eat it at the picnic tables.
- Know where the petting zoo is so that your kids can at least get close to some of the animals.
- Identify the best route to the zoo.
- If it’s going to be a long trip, plan earlier to give the children something to keep them busy or occupied like puzzles, some music, and smart phone games and so on.
With adequate preparation, a zoo can be a splendid outing, with a good nature walk, loads to see, and some education along the way.
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