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Summer Fun at the Zoo

  • Jul 28, 2010
  • Dianna Babcock & Cheryl Henningsgaard

We are dedicating this month’s Blog posting to Summer Fun at the Zoo. Children of all ages love a trip to the zoo, and Minnesota is blessed with three of the finest zoos in the country as well as beautiful parks and nature centers. The enjoyment of interacting with nature gives us all an opportunity to appreciate the sights AND sounds of nature, increasing our zoological and musicological vocabularies.

MacPhail Early Childhood Programming does not just occur in our classrooms, but throughout the year we are very busy creating unique musical learning experiences for young children and their families participating throughout our community, including our libraries. Another unique learning experience involves our Summer Camps at the Minnesota Zoo and with Three Rivers District Parks. This August, MacPhail Animals on Parade-Musical Trolley Camp will be held at Silverwood Park. In this three-day camp, Silverwood Park Naturalists and MacPhail Early Childhood Faculty will make music based on playful animal themes that incorporate musical concepts along with animal sounds and behaviors through exploration of orchestral instruments, singing, movement, and stories. Reservations for this camp are required, and you may do so by contacting Silverwood Park at (763)694-7707.

This Blog intends to bring the Zoo to YOU through a wonderful children’s story that is featured as our July Music-in-a-Box Presentation:

Book Title: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Appropriate Audience: Toddler-age 8

Author/Illustrator: Bill Martin Jr., & Eric Carle

Literacy Goals:

  • Print Awareness (element of peek and surprise, colors and animal shapes, introduction of question mark)
  • Narrative sequencing (order of animals in story)
  • Vocabulary (descriptive words, labeling concepts)
  • Vocal Development (creating animal speech or sounds)
  • Phonological Development (animal sound recognition, rhythm and rhyme found in the text).

Activities/Extension with Music:

  • Create a musical story by singing the text to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
  • Create animal masks for the children to wear. The children can pretend they are the animal in the story, and create the movements and sound typical for their animal mask.
  • Create a “Zoo Week” featuring specific stories featuring zoos or zoo animals: Five Little Monkeys, Little Elephant, Going to the Zoo, Baby Beluga, and Old Turtle.
  • Bring the “Zoo” to your library, or feature a Zoo outing!
  • Offer creative movement opportunities by featuring action-packed animal songs performed by Greg & Steve (Animal Action) or Carnival of The Animals by Camille Saint- Saens.

We are thankful for these unique learning opportunities as we spread the joy of music and increase the knowledge of literacy and appreciation of animals and nature with young children!


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