"It's a ZOO out there!"
For many years I didn't enjoy going to the zoo. I thought it smelled bad (which it can) and I thought it was cruel to have the animals there and so I refused to go. Well, since having my son, my views of the zoo have completely changed. It's so neat to see my son light up when he sees an animal he loves (see the picture below - it's too cute not to share) or see something that he may never have a chance to see otherwise. Plus, those animals are well taken care of and it doesn't smell that bad.
Anyway, in my rediscovery of loving the zoo, I've created a zoo game! It's a simple game with an actual game board. It uses number cards to tell you how many spaces to move. However, you could always use a die or spinner too. Grab some coins for space markers (or space markers from another game) and have fun! This game can be used for many different ages. See below on how to adjust for your child's age:
- Pre-Talkers: If your child is old enough to play a game, but still not talking consistently, then you could use the name signs on the game board to expose your child to the word and encourage him/her to say it. You could even look up pictures of each animal on the computer! If your child is a pre-talker, but still too young to play a game, this activity is not for you.
- Early Language: If your child can't describe the animals on the signs yet, then you may want to print pictures of the animals and have your child find the correct animal according to the sign he/she landed on. You could also ask just one question about the animal: "What does a monkey say?" "What color is a lion?" "What does a giraffe eat?" - keep it simple and at their level
- Elementary/Middle Language: Have the kids describe the animal. Don't let them stop with simply the color and size. Have them describe where it lives, what it eats, what it says, how it moves, etc. If you are working on definitions (see blog post "Definitions?") then have the child make a definition: name + group (animal or more specifically - mammal, etc) + unique factor (what it says or eats or lives, etc).
- Listening Comprehension: If your child can't read yet, then you could read the name of the animal (make sure you are covering your mouth) and have the child find a picture of that animal. If your child can read, consider covering the names of the animals. Have the child close his/her eyes while you peak at the name of the animal. You could then either name the animal, make the sound it makes, or describe the animal and have your child either find the correct picture or name the animal!
- Articulation: Either write in words that your student needs to practice, have your child practice a few words before each turn, or have your child really monitor his/her sounds that he/she is working on as y'all play the game!