Two Preschool Activities With the Book "Color Zoo" by Lois Ehlert

Two Preschool Activities With the Book "Color Zoo" by Lois Ehlert
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Meet This Great Book

Are you planning lessons for a zoo theme? Perhaps you are working on shapes and colors. Add the book Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert to

your plans! It is another of this author’s unique books for young children.

The book uses a shape cutout on each page so that, each time the child turns a page, a new animal is formed. The illustrations are done in bright primary colors. It is a book that children will often take from the bookshelf to examine.

Place the children a little bit farther back than you normally do for a story. The animal pictured is easier to guess when sitting back a little.

Use a piece of white construction paper to slide between each page as you read. For example, put the white paper behind the first page. Ask the children, “What shape do you see?” (a circle) Then slide the paper out of the book to reveal an animal made from the circle shape. Now say, “Can you guess what animal this is?” You will have a variety of guesses since the animals in the book are in bold colors and not portrayed in a natural form. Once the children have figured out the first couple of animals, it will be easier.

Art Activity

Zoo Art:

This will make a brightly colored hallway or bulletin board display!

Materials and Preparation:

  • Non-toxic glue
  • Primary colors of construction papers
  • White or black construction paper for the background
  • Crayons or markers optional for adding details (stripes, whiskers)
  • Variety of cut-out shapes in a variety of primary colors

Use the templates in the book to trace the shapes and cut out multiples of each so that the children have lots of choices. Also use smaller items to trace and cut out smaller circles, squares, rectangles and triangles. Children will use the smaller pieces for facial features.)


First, with the help of your students, brainstorm a list of zoo animals and write them on the board. They may not be able to read the animal names but you will be able to glance at the list and then be able to come to the aid of a student who can’t think of an animal to make.

Do not provide glue or background paper yet! Instruct the children to choose several shape cutouts and return to their tables. Children should each try to form an animal with the shapes. They can ask for more shapes, if needed, to complete the animal. When you and the child feel they are ready, provide the glue and background paper. Transfer the shape they have each created and glue each piece to the background paper.

Listening Activity

This is an activity that reinforces recognition of colors, directional words and shapes.


Plastic or wooden pattern blocks



Dump a container of shape blocks on the floor in the middle of a circle of students.

Rules: No talking, just listening! Call the students up individually, by table number or by boys and girls to follow the instructions:

  • Find a green square and put it in front of you.
  • Find a red circle and put it in front of you.
  • Put the green square behind you.
  • Now get the green square and put it on top of the red circle.
  • Find a yellow rectangle and put it beside the other shapes.
  • Now put the shapes in a row with the yellow shape in the middle of the other two.
  • Find any blue shape and put it between the red and yellow shape.
  • Stack the shapes on top of each other with the green square on the bottom.

You can continue on with your own pattern instructions or review of shapes and directional words if it seems that the class can do more.

When using Lois Ehlert books, lesson plans and activities are easy to plan. Use Color Zoo to review directional words, shapes and colors, to do a beautiful art project and to talk about zoo animals.