A trip to the zoo can be more than just a fun day out, it can be both fun and educational. Make a plan to ensure that your day at the zoo is the best.
Choose a less busy day. Children enjoy a zoo trip more when they don’t have to fight the crowds to see their favorite animals. Avoid holidays and weekends during the summer. Choose a weekday morning during the summer or a weekend after school has resumed.
Read about one or two favorite animals prior to the trip. Then look for the animal when you get there. Review what you read. Observe the animals closely and note unique behaviors. Or, have each of your children pick an animals and become the “expert” on that animal. As you visit it at the zoo, they can share information about size, feeding, habitat and so on. Take a picture of each “expert” with their animal.
Take advantage of educational programs and animal shows throughout the day. Most zoos offer shows that feature one particular animal. Often visitors are allowed to hold or touch the animal after the show.
Bring your own food, drink and snacks. If the park allows food to be brought in, bring your picnic, extra drinks and healthy snacks such as cereal bars or low fat popcorn. Zoo food can be expensive and lines long. If you aren’t allowed to bring in your own food, give the children a snack just before entering the park.
Don’t try to see it all. Plan to see only half the zoo on this trip, or visit each child’s favorite animal. Some zoos have more than 4,000 animals and you have to rush to see them all. Choose a few and take time to observe and enjoy them. If the zoo has a train trip, this is often a great way to see a little bit of everything without tiring yourself out.
Take a break. Children (and moms, too) can tire out and become cranky from all the walking at the zoo. Take time out to sit and rest or stop for an animal show.
Make your own zoo book. Take pictures of favorite animals. Use them to make a book about animals or to practice classifying animals. You may want to plan ahead to make a book about African animals, nocturnal animals or endangered species.