We are big fans of the zoo – no mistaking it, I write about it often enough haha!
The thing is, I really feel that there is so much to be learnt at the zoo – did you know that a huge chunk of the key stage one science curriculum that is based around animals? Neither did I until I looked into it with educational quizzes! From learning about where they live to how we and they grow, it’s all relevant to your little one and it’s all something that can easily be learnt at the zoo along with geography, maths and so much more.
Here are some basic ways to teach children KS1 at the zoo:
- Count the animals. Super simple, but it is one of the most effective ways to incorporate maths into a zoo trip. When I take the boys we count the lion pride (our local has 9 – 1 male and 8 females) and for Reuben we do basic subtraction (how many lions would there be if we took the male one away?) and addition (how many big cats are there is there are 9 lions and 5 tigers?). Simple but fun and effective.
- Read the signs. Officially our favourite thing to do – in fact I have secured our place as the geekiest family at the zoo because the kids will run from sign to sign asking me to read them. You can learn all sorts, one of the best things that is relevant to the curriculum is where animals come from. Africa is a frequent one, but that can be expanded upon by explaining continents vs countries. We have also learn super fun things (by which I mean gross things) such as Rhinos smell each other’s poo in order to determine age, sex, location and even dominance. This might sound like a trivial fact BUT it relates to senses which is another key stage topic… and it’s about poo so the kids have told EVERY person they can find about it.
- Find a keeper and listen to talks. Not only do you learn a lot about animals from doing this BUT it is an excellent way to build confidence and help kids learn to listen. The boys once spent a good 20 mins grilling the baboon keeper, who was baffled by their questions. “Why does he have a red bum?” was, of course, the first question. It’s actually to attract a mate, the redder the better… which lead to “why?”… which lead to “well, they need a mate to have a baby and keep the species going…” which lead to a concerned look from the keeper that the kids might ask him how they would make the baby.
- Get them to spell out the names of the animals. Such an easy way to help kids with literacy – try to stick with phonics for little ones though, or remember to explain that “i” in tiger is an “eye” sound – blend the sounds not the letter name.
- Draw the animals you see. Art and creativity is also a big part of key stage 1 and preschool learning, so we make a not elf the animals that we see and take drawing materials to the zoo to have a little draw of the animals. Do the kids scrawl out a quick doodle and run off? You bet ya, but it gets them used to the ideal of drawing what the see AND sometimes they really will try to draw properly.jn jcx
- Make use of children’s learning/activity centres. Funnily most zoos have this resource but people don’t make use of it. They have so much from re-creations of the animals skeletons to videos and computerised games for them to get interactive with.
- Watch the shows. Animal shows are actually really informative. They wow little ones with all of the tricks and things but they are secretly pushing information your way all the time. Did you know anything about Sea Lions? Go and watch the show and you will!
So if that doesn’t convince you to go and get some homeschooling goodness at the zoo, I don’t know what will! What is your favourite animal at the zoo?