Parent Made Developmental Toys: Integrating Parenting, Self-Esteem, Literacy & Fun
Playing Zoo -or Farm Animals, Dinosaurs or Insects Directions:
Collect the kinds of animals you want in the zoo.
1. Make a cardboard base with walkways, pond, animal areas. Use markers and glued on construction paper.

2. Make some bushes and trees with foam or cotton.

3. Make a barn from the box. A tissue box or a bakery box works well. Draw the windows on. Cut out doors.

4. Make some fences with wood. Saw up lx2 inch sections and sand them. Draw on some fence posts with marker.

Games in Developmental Stages:
For Babies: Let them look at the animals. They will feel them and mouth them. Give them the names and maybe even the sound that the animal makes. The animal can walk up their arms. You can play peek-a-boo and hide their animal under their blankets.

For Toddlers: Encourage your children's language.
1. Name the animals and the parts of your "zoo."

2. Describe what you do as you do it; for example, say, "I am putting the zebra in the barn." or "The lion sleeps here." Also describe what your child is doing. "You put the hippo in the water." or "Your elephant and lion are next to one another."

3. Play games with the animals' sounds ... rrr for the lion.

4. When you are sure your child knows the labels, ask simple questions like, "Where is your giraffe?" or "Is the tiger in the barn?" or "Who's in the water?"

For Preschoolers: Continue the language lesson you have used before.
1. Ask you child, "Which one (of these two) is the lion?" or "Find the zebra."

2. Ask your child to describe what he or she is doing just as you did.

3. Roar or trumpet together as you play.

4. Ask questions or give simple commands, one at a time. Watch how your child follows them. Your questions can be in special language categories:

5. Play games with quantity. Put two animals in the pond or find three animals that eat meat.

6. Make up stories about a trip to the zoo, or an elephant's adventure, or how the tiger got his stripes. Pretend to play out the story. Write down their stories.

7. Read books about animals. Some may be fairy tales and fables. Your children may act out the story. Other books may be encyclopedias or factual books.

For Elementary Children:
1. Play all the language games as above but you can challenge them more directly with questions. "What two animals do you think should never live together."

2. You can also give them animal facts. "These animals live in Africa." or "I know that these animals eat only plants."

3. Ask them to make some more props for the zoo. They can make signs for the zoo.

4. Let them write stories and fact sheets about the animals. They might need to do some research in books.

5. Play games involving point of view. For example, with two animals on opposite sides of the barn, ask "Can the zebra see the kangaroo?" or "Can you hide the elephant from the tiger?"

More Games that you think up:

Behavior encouragement:
1. PLAY NOW OR PAY LATER! Remember your commitment to Parent and Child Time. Talk with your children.

2. Make other games with other kinds of action figures and animals.

3. Encourage your children to play cooperatively together with a story in mind. They might pretend about the field trip that we took last summer.

4. Take turns with your child. Model being a good player yourself.

5. Box up all the pieces so they don't get scattered. Decide where to store them so that your children can get them when they want to play.

Practice sheet for language to go with the zoo.
Play one hide and seek game.

List the names of the animals. Pay attention to the spelling.

What are some adjectives that describe each animal?

Use adverbs to describe what the animals do.

Write some questions using prepositions.

What are some facts that you know about some animals?

What is one story or fable that you know or one that you can make-up?

Think of two sentences that use the animals' point of views (or what they see from their eyes)

Playing Zoo Materials List

This is an incredible project for encouraging play between parents, language skills and social skills. It is easy. It cuts across age lines.
Have the parents practice playing with role play or acting out. Then they will be more comfortable with it.

The parent can change the animals for novelty and increasing the amount of play time.

The point of view question... when children are cognitively ready to project a line of sight without actually moving to experience it. They will be about 5 or 6 years old. Hence, can the elephant see the alligator when the barn is between them? The child does not need to move to look and answer the question.

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