Since Noah turned one, there has always been a specific activity that we do every single month: Zoo class!
Over the last few years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about our Zoo classes. Whenever I share the details and our experience, they are always surprised that the Milwaukee Co. Zoological Society offers these fantastic classes for kids. Zoo classes are enriching animal science classes for kids ages infant through 14, plus adults and families. Classes include animal information, hands-on learning and Zoo tours. An added bonus: Zoo Pass members receive priority registration and fee discounts. If you aren’t a Zoo Pass member, it’s totally worth it. You should really consider it.
The infant classes are called Stroller Safari classes and they are exactly what they sound: safaris throughout the Zoo in a stroller. These classes are designed for children between 6 months and 24 months old. They are ideal for kids who can sit in the stroller and walk around the Zoo looking at animals. I found them to be perfect to start just after a year old – for us.
Each month’s class has a specific theme and you visit three animals that relate back to that theme. In the classes the kids sing songs with their adult, get a stick animal to hold (we have all of ours and still play with them!), walk the Zoo to see the animals and learn fun facts along the way. The teacher always has a different hands-on item for the kids to look at and feel. Sometimes it’s a stuffed animal to learn about their body parts. Sometimes it’s an actual part of the animal that they can touch and feel. Then, they finish up class with a story and goodbye song.
After kids turn two, they move into the classroom environment to learn about animals. In the classroom environment they start each class with hands-on learning stations that include painting, coloring, making an animal action game, doing puzzles and a sensory table. Then, all of the kids gather for circle time with the teacher where they sing a welcome song and learn fun facts about the featured theme animal.
After circle time, all the kids get to make a costume that they can wear to pretend they are that animal. Then they all gather again for a second circle time with a story and snack.
In the two-year old classes, they always get to visit the animal that they are learning about. If it’s a warmer month, they go outside and walk to the exhibit – which are always the exhibits closest to the Education Building so it’s a short walk. In the cooler winter months, they learn about animals that can be brought into the classroom – like the rabbit, turtle, snake, etc.
The three-year old classes are pretty much the same thing as the two-year old class, except that there is an extra 30 minutes added to class. That 30 minutes gives the kids a little extra time for their costume craft activity – and a bathroom break. It also adds extra time that allows the kids to walk a little bit of a further from the Education building to the animals that are located on the other side of the Zoo.
As you can see, we have a love for Zoo classes. We always learn something new about one of the fantastic animals at the Zoo. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!