I'm so excited today! I have Montessori-inspired activities for a popular theme with young children ... zoo animals. At Living Montessori Now, I have a list of free zoo printables. The free printables include my latest subscriber freebie (a Montessori-inspired zoo pack), which is now expanded to cover additional concepts and a wider age range!
Here I'm sharing a number of Montessori-inspired activities using the free printables. These are great ways to complement a trip to the zoo ... a perfect warm-weather field trip!
You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities.
At Living Montessori Now, I have a post with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.
Shelves with Zoo-Themed Activities
My shelves with zoo-themed activities include a free hand-painted printable zoo culture card designed by The Montessori Company. You’ll also find Montessori-inspired zoo numbers and letters (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber)
The books on my top shelf are all Montessori friendly. They're Zoo by Gail Gibbons, Life-Size Zoo, More Life-Size Zoo, and A Children's Zoo. My 3-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, especially loves Life-Size Zoo and More Life-Size Zoo. Another favorite zoo book that she's loved for a long time is One Gorilla (a Montessori-friendly counting book with fascinating realistic pictures. It's in our book basket).
I also have a handmade book: Little Letter "Z" Book on the middle shelf. It uses a free printable: Little Letter "Z" Book from The Measured Mom. Check out my "Simple Easily Rotated Activity to Teach Letter Sounds to Toddlers and Preschoolers" to learn how we use these letter books, which Zoey loves.
You could mix your zoo-themed activities among your shelves according to curriculum area. Or you could have a special zoo area something like the one pictured. My shelves this month have a mixture of skill levels, although they're mainly for 3-5 year old pre-readers.
You'll find a couple of more advanced activities below. If you’re a homeschooler, just choose the activities that work for your child’s interests and ability levels. If you don’t have room for all the activities you’d like to do, just rotate them.
Zoo Culture Card (on Shelf with Life-Size Zoo and More Life-Size Zoo Books)
I'm happy to share with you a beautiful hand-painted zoo culture card from The Montessori Company. You can use it on your shelves to introduce a zoo theme. I’m hosting the free printable as an instant download at Living Montessori Now. You can always access the free zoo culture card here. The description says: “At the zoo we can learn about animals from all across the world and see them up close safely.”
Animal Pattern Matching
Free Printable: Animal Patterns from Mumma Diaries
For this activity, I simply used a Montessori Services basket with the printables - super easy! I did omit the cow and ladybug patterns because of the zoo theme.
For a toddler, it would be wonderful to use this activity with large Schleich animals or Safari Ltd. animals to match each of the patterns.
Wildlife “I Have, Who Has” Game
Free Printable: Wildlife “I Have, Who Has” Game from PreKinders
This was another super-easy activity to prepare. I just used the printable along with a Montessori Services basket. Games like this can be a fun way for children to work together at home or in a classroom.
Subtract the Animals at the Zoo Free Printable: Zoo Pack Update (part 5) from 3 Dinosaurs. There are also printables for counting the zoo animals (perfect for younger children), adding the zoo animals, and greater than/less than in the pack. For multiple ages, you could have more than one of the printables on the tray.
For this activity, I used the subtract the animals printable, 10 animals from the Safari Ltd. Wild TOOB, a Montessori Services basket for the animals, and a small bamboo condiment cup for the numbers.
Zoo-Themed Teen Number Cards with Montessori Bead Bars
Free Printable: Zoo Animal Numbers (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber)
For this activity, I used a piece of felt for a table mat and bead bars from the decanomial box in a Montessori Services basket. (My bead bars, which I love, are from Alison's Montessori. You can get them on Amazon, although I haven't personally used materials from those companies.)
You could make this into a game by placing the number cards in a stack upside down. Then the child draws a number card and matches the bead bars.
This is a great extension for children who are working on place value using Montessori bead materials.
Letter Z Object Basket with Mystery Bag and Blindfold Free Printables: Zebra Letters for Letter Z Object Basket (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber)
I used the "z" sandpaper letter, another tactile letter "z," a magnetic letter "z," a sandpaper numeral 0, a zebra, a zipper, and a laminated photo of Zoey for the/z/ sound. Zoey has so much fun with this activity!
Using Letter Z Objects with Mystery Bag and Blindfold
If you'd like ideas for teaching phonics, check out my DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics post.
We used a Montessori mystery bag and blindfold for interest and to work on the stereognostic sense. I got the basket, mystery bag, and blindfold from Montessori Services.
Zoo-Themed Beginning Sounds and Word Building
Free Printable: Zoo Pack Update (part 6) from 3 Dinosaurs
Free Printable: My 1" Movable Alphabet (instant download available in manuscript, D'Nealian, or cursive)
For this activity, I used a Montessori Services basket and a small bamboo condiment cup for the letters. This is a fun hands-on way to focus on beginning sounds and word building.
I cut out 4 of the easiest words to build. After simply identifying the beginning sound for each picture, the child will have built a word!
Vertebrate Classification with Safari Ltd. Figures Free Printable: We’re Going to the Zoo Unit Study and Lapbook by Ami Brainerd at Homeschool Share
For this activity, I used a multicraft tray, the pieces from the printable cut apart, and 5 different types of vertebrates. I used figures from the Safari Ltd. Rainforest TOOB plus a fish from the Safari Ltd. Rainforest TOOB.
Older children could have a number of different species to match while younger children can match figures such as the ones pictured that are obvious matches although not necessarily the same type of fish, bird, etc.
Zoey really loved this activity and enjoyed having me read the different attributes of each classification.
Zoo Creative Writing Free Printable: Zoo Creative Writing Printables (part of my subscriber freebie pack, so just sign up for my email to get the link and password … or check the bottom of your latest newsletter if you’re already a subscriber)
For this activity, I used a multicraft tray, the printables, a pencil, and a pencil sharpener for an added practical life activity. Advanced preschoolers on up can write their own story, while younger preschoolers can dictate a story for you to write. They could use the "Tell about your favorite zoo animal," or "Tell about your trip to the zoo," after a zoo trip.
More Free Zoo Printables
Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to free zoo printables from around the blogosphere: Free Zoo Printables and Montessori-Inspired Zoo Activities. And be sure to subscribe to my email list if you'd like to get an exclusive free printable each month (plus two more awesome freebies right away): Free Printables.
More Zoo Activities and Resources at Living Montessori Now
- Montessori-Inspired Zoo Animal Activities
- Montessori-Inspired Zoo Animal Unit
- Farm, Zoo, & Ocean Animal Sensory Bottles for Babies and Toddlers
- Using the Montessori 3-Period Lesson to Teach Vocabulary to a Toddler
- Montessori-Inspired Toddler Vocabulary with Animals and Silhouettes
- Zoo Animal Unit Study Pinterest Board
Deb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 42 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and 3-year-old granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.