Preschool Lesson: Zoo Animals & Their Needs

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This lesson is a great introduction to a Pre K zoo theme. It would also be good to teach before a field trip to the zoo,

Zoo Animals and Their Needs Lesson Plan


  • Picture book about zoos - Two at the Zoo by Danna Smith
  • Chart Paper
  • Markers
  • Pictures of animals that you would find in a zoo and some that you wouldn’t
  • one piece of construction paper, per child
  • one worksheet with pictures of 3 zoo animals and 3 pets or farm animals to color and cut out, per child
  • scissors
  • glue
  • crayons

Prior Knowledge

Read a book about going to the zoo to the class. A good one for preschoolers is Two at the Zoo, by Danna Smith. This simple counting story is about a little boy who takes his grandpa to the zoo and the animals they see there.


Students will learn what kind of animals they should expect to find in a zoo and then talk about the needs of animals to live.


Ask students what kinds of animals they would find in a zoo. Talk about the characteristics of these animals - they are usually wild animals not pets or farm animals, sometimes they are endangered animals, animals that live in in different countries that we might see if they weren’t in a zoo. Then on chart paper make t-chart and brainstorm a list of some animals that you would find in a zoo and those that wouldn’t be in a zoo.

Next talk a little bit about what animals need to live, especially in zoos. Tell the class that animals are living things and they need food, water, a place to live etc. You might choose a few animals and and discuss more specific things they would need in a zoo or in the wild. Penguins need cold temperatures. Giraffes and elephants need lots of space. Fish need water to swim in.

Hold up pictures of different animals and have the students show you thumbs up if they live in a zoo, thumbs down if they don’t. Then discuss some of the zoo animals and what specials needs they might have in the zoo.


Give each students a piece of construction paper and have them fold it in half. On one side of the fold have them write ‘Zoo’ and on the other ‘Not in a Zoo.’ Then give them the handout with the animals on it. Have them color and cut out the pictures and then sort and glue them onto the correct half of the paper.


Have the students chose an animal and draw a picture of it and some of the things it needs to live.

Zoo Sounds

These fun preschool activities teach students about the sounds that different zoo animals make. They are a great addition to a zoo unit.


  • Peek-a-Zoo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti
  • one book page with the words " _______ says the ______________". per child
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • two pieces of construction paper for the front and back of the class book
  • yarn or ribbon
  • hole punch or a book binder

Prior Knowledge

Use this lesson as part of a zoo or animals theme.


Read the book Peek-a-Zoo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti. Each page has an animal sound and then you lift the flap to find out which animal makes the sound. You can have the students guess the animals as you read the book.

After reading the book, tell the class you are going to play a guessing game. Have one student think of an animal and make its sound. Then let the other students guess what it is. You can also decide whether it is an animal you would find at the zoo. After a few students have gone, put the students into pairs or groups of three and let them play the same game.

The last activity for this lesson is to make a class book. Give each student a book page with the prompt " _______ says the ______________" on it. Have them choose a zoo animal and draw a picture of it. Then have each student dictate what the blanks should say on their page e.g. “Roar says the lion.” You can do the writing for them or if it’s late in the year you can let them try to write it themselves. When everyone is finished collect the pages and put them into a class book with the title Zoo Sounds or something similar.


Look at the book pages. Did students know the correct sound for their animal? Did they choose an animal that would be in the zoo? If you let them try the writing, how close did they get? Were there beginning sounds? Did they represent ending sounds?


These preschool zoo unit activities will get your preschoolers excited about learning about animals.

This post is part of the series: Let’s Go to the Zoo: Zoo Lessons for Preschool

A zoo themed unit can be used teach a variety of subjects. Teach science, social studies, math and language arts with these fun preschool lessons about zoos and the animals who live in them.

  1. Zoo Animals Preschool Science Lesson
  2. Zookeepers: A Preschool Social Studies Lesson
  3. Zoo-Looking Lesson Plans: Preschool Literacy and Math Activities with Mem Fox
  4. Combine Literacy & Art to Make a Zoo Mural
  5. Good Night Gorilla - A Preschool Zoo Theme