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Preschool Zoo Theme Cooking Activities

written by: Tania Cowling • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 6/6/2012

Looking for cooking activities for preschoolers? Zoo theme ideas are always a favorite with young children. Read on for recipes for fun snacking.

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    The art of cooking gives young children practice in social skills, cooperative learning, beginning science concepts, math skills, cause and effect, and much more. When children help in preparing snacks, they tend to eat a variety of foods willingly and with pleasure. Don't fear if you do not have major cooking facilities at your school or center as there are many food constructions that can be made without a full kitchen. These yummy snacks go great with a zoo theme. Start with a fieldtrip to the zoo or reading books about zoo animals. Then satisfy your appetitie with tasty snacks.

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    3-D Animal Cookies

    Barnum's Box One of the simplest animal snacks you can make with your group involves using store-bought animal crackers. Make a zoo of three-dimensional animals, and parade them across the table. Along with the animal crackers, you will need peanut butter and jam orjelly. Give each child three crackers of the same animal. Invite them to spread peanut butter and jam on one side of each cookie with a plastic knife and push them together to make a three-layer animal sandwich. Stand the cookies up and view the zoo before the children begin to eat them.

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    Zoo Animal Sandwiches

    With a few nutritious fixings and some creativity, your class can make zoo animal sandwiches for a snack or lunch. Set out these ingredients on the table: bread (white, whole wheat, pumpernickel); fillings such as lunch meats, cheese slices, and cream cheese; and trimmings like raisins, pitted olives, celery sticks, banana slices, carrots, pimento, cherries, and even sliced hard-boiled eggs. Provide large circle cookie cutters or jar lids so the children can make circles from a slice of bread. Decorate the bread circles with the fillings and trimmings to make zoo animals like an elephant, lion, zebra, orangutan, monkey, owl, and more. Check out this guide in the media section for drawings to copy, or create your own animals with the children. These sandwiches will become favorites in your class and will be asked for from time to time.

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    Make Animals with Biscuits

    Think about using store-bought canned biscuits to make animals and/or paws for a cooking session in class. You would need an oven or toaster oven to complete this project. To make a rabbit, give each child a biscuit and help him to divide the dough in half. Form a bunny head with one half and two ears with the other. Decorate the face with raisin eyes and a cherry nose. Be sure to push the decorations down into the dough.

    Or make tiger or bear paws with biscuits. Children can cut a biscuit into three parts with a plastic knife. Shape the pieces into short, fat paws. Push three raisins into the one end like claws. Sprinkle the paws with cinnamon and sugar.

    Check the cooking instructions on the package or bake the rabbit biscuit or animal paws on a baking sheet at 425 degrees for about ten minutes or until light brown.

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    Create a Celery Snake

    Wash the celery and cut each stalk into pieces about five inches long. To make the snake's head, cut a small triangle (an indentation) from each side of the celery about an inch from the top. You can even cut slants to round off the face at the end of the stalk. Help the children to spread peanut butter or cream cheese in the groove. Create snakeskin decorations using raisins, olive slices, bits of apples (or other fruits), and shredded coconut. Two slices of pimento filled olives make great snake eyes and a sliver of red pimento for a tongue.

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    The Bottom Line

    Incredible edibles are fun to make using these cooking activities for preschoolers. Zoo theme snacks are an added extra when talking about animals and their habitats. Take photos of your creations before devouring them; these can highlight a bulletin board about your zoo theme and cooking experience.

    Note: Make sure students do not have food allergies, especially to nuts when using peanut butter. Substitute with cream cheese when necessary.

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    Sources

    • Concept Cookery by Kathy Faggella [First Teacher Press, 1985]
    • Cooking With Kids: Recipes for Year-Round Fun by Tania Kourempis-Cowling [Fearon Teacher Aids, 1999]
    • Personal Experience in the Classroom and Home
    • Photo by Tania Cowling

Nutrition and Healthy Foods for Preschoolers

A simple study of nutrition to promote healthy eating habits is important for preschool children.Teach them to make healthy choices. Help your group become aware of how food influences their everyday lives with these articles.
  1. Three Healthy Food Crafts for Early Childhood Students
  2. Preschool Zoo Theme Cooking Activities
  3. What's for Breakfast? A Lesson on Nutritious Foods
  4. Healthy Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe for Preschool
  5. Four Food Activities for a Preschool Spring Theme

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