The Zany Zoo

  • box labeled “The Zany Zoo”
  • large plastic container filled with sand (or other material: beans, rice, etc.)
  • laminated silly animal picture cards with a “z” word name label (e.g., Zoomy, Zippy, Zigzag, Zonker, Zapper)
  • a few cards that do not begin with “z”
  • zany
  • zoo

MA Standards:

Foundational Skills/RF.PK.MA.1.d: Recognize and name some uppercase letters of the alphabet and the lowercase letters in one’s own name.

Head Start Outcomes:

Literacy Knowledge/Alphabet Knowledge: Recognizes that the letters of the alphabet are a special category of visual graphics that can be individually named.

PreK Learning Guidelines:

English Language Arts/Reading and Literature 7: Develop familiarity with the forms of alphabet letters, awareness of print, and letter forms.

The Zany Zoo

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care (Jennifer Waddell photographer). All rights reserved.

Skill Focus: Fine Motor Skills, Letter Recognition, Matching, Vocabulary

Educator Prep: Prepare each action word card by drawing a zany critter acting out the word. Laminate the cards or place them in sealable plastic bags so they will withstand the sand (or material). Bury the pictures in the sand. Decorate a box labeled “The Zany Zoo.”

Review the letter “Zz” and the words zoom and zip. Show children “The Zany Zoo” box. Explain that zany means something kooky or silly. Then tell children that all the zany animals got out of the Zany Zoo and you need them to find the animals and bring them back to the Zany Zoo again!

  • Hold up an animal name word card. Point to the animal name and read it, then point to the picture of the zany animal. Explain that there are many zany  “Zz” animals hidden in the sand, but there are a few animals that do not begin with the letter “Zz.” 
  • Have children take turns digging for the “Zz” zany animal cards. Once they find a “Zz” word, tell them you want them to say, “I’m zooming to the Zany Zoo,” and then zoom it over to the zoo and place it in the box.
  • If children dig out a word that does not begin with “Zz” have them bury it back in the sand.

Adaptation: For groups with very young children, you may want to pair them with an older child who is confident in his or her letter recognition skills. Have the younger child dig for a “Zz” word and have the older child point to and recite the first letter of the word aloud.

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