Get Outdoors!! Field Trips to the Zoo…

Get Outdoors!! Field Trips to the Zoo…

The zoo is a popular field trip for most families. We maintain a yearly membership and go often, but a few years ago, we started doing ‘focused trips. Rather than idly meandering around the zoo, as we did when they were toddlers, we had the kids each pick one animal to focus their trip on.

Before the field trip, the kids each pick out their animal and do a little bit of online or library research about it. Then, while walking around the zoo (we wouldn’t want to neglect all of the other cuties!), we spend a bit more time than usual studying their selected animals. We interact with the animals’ zookeepers, and get up close with the animals, whenever possible.

This is real-world, child-directed learning. They’re going to be more into it since they got to pick the topic. They’re also going to remember more if they get up close and get that hands-on (or just very up close) experience immediately after doing some research. (For younger kids, you can skip the in-depth research. For older ones, you might have them write a short paper ahead of time.)

A few tips for Zoo Studies :

  • Other study ideas include taxonomy / animal classifications, geography (find all of the animals from a certain continent), and animal instincts & adaptations.
  • Check the website of your local zoo before going. Many of them have wonderful {free} educational resources up and ready for use.
  • Almost every zoo features the big cats : the lions, tigers, and cheetahs. After PBS came out with their documentary, and Disney came out with the Sita the Cheetah books, these animals became a favorite topic of interest for the boys. One of our more in-depth Zoo Studies was all about Big Cats.
  • On a related note, we also like to use the local aquarium for oceanography and marine biology lessons.
  • Not every zoo will have an attached aquarium, but if your zoo happens to have the big fish, this is a short, elementary-directed unit we put together for studying sharks.
  • There are also animal rescue operations that are perfect for field trips! You will often get a much more personal experience and get to interact with people who are very passionate about what they do. For example, we visited a Raptor Rescue Center and got to learn all about these special birds!
  • Field Trip Worksheets – These are a nice way to have a handwritten report about your field trip.
  • Using a pre-field-trip Teacher Guide will help direct both you and your children toward a particular topic. You don’t even have to go over these with your children, but you should read them ahead of time to get some wonderful ideas!


A big thank you to Yvie Field of Gypsy Road for writing this article.

3 thoughts on “Get Outdoors!! Field Trips to the Zoo…”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

A Division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine