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Early Literacy

Early literacy is what children know about communication, language—verbal and non-verbal—reading and writing before they can actually read and write.

Reading Tip

Use specific names for things when talking with children, like cat and kitten. This helps children learn new words and understand differences between similar things. This is one way to increase their vocabulary.

At the Zoo: Books


Alfred Digs by Lindsay George
Alfred the aardvark lives with his mother on the "A" page of the dictionary, and when his pet ant, Itty Bitty, slips out of the ant farm to visit the zoo, Alfred goes after him, digging all the way down to "Z."

Alfred Digs

The Baby Beebee Bird by Diane Massie
The zoo animals find a way to keep the baby beebee bird awake during the day so that they can get some sleep at night.

Can One Balloon Make an Elephant Fly? by Dan Richards
A mother takes her son to the zoo to answer his science question.

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
Answering a child's request, the zoo keeps sending a wide assortment of animals until they find the perfect pet.

Look by Fiona Woodstock
A brother and sister spend an exciting day at the zoo, where they find balloons, baboons, kangaroos and more. Told entirely through illustrations and single words containing a double "O."

My Side of the Car by Kate Feiffer
Sadie and her father have been planning a trip to the zoo for a long time but something always gets in the way, so when they finally start out and her father sees some raindrops, Sadie insists there is no rain on her side of the car.

Stripes the Tiger by Jean Leroy
Stripes is a small tabby cat who dreams of being a ferocious tiger, but when his owner takes him to the zoo he meets a real tiger who wants to switch places with him.

That is Not a Hippopotamus by Juliette MacIver
On a visit to Don's Safari, the students in class 2B attempt to find a missing hippopotamus.

The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham
Discovering a magical door in her bedroom that leads her to the zoo, a little girl is tempted to bring one little bear back to her room, and then a menagerie of smaller animals and then a medley of big animals, until pandemonium ensues.

Zoo Day by Ann Rockwell
A little boy visits the zoo with his family for the first time and marvels at all of the wonders it offers.


Some non-fiction books may not be developmentally appropriate for every preschooler. You know your children—if any of the text is beyond where you think they are, you can still use the book by discussing the pictures and illustrations.

My Visit to the Zoo by AlikiMy Visit to the Zoo
What to expect when visiting the zoo.

Yoga for Kids: Animal Poses for Any Age by Lorena Pjalunga
A little boy begins taking yoga lessons at the zoo, where he learns that he can mimic the animals there with simple yoga poses.

Zoo by Gail Gibbons
All about the zoo.

Zoo by Jennifer Colby
Readers are introduced to the many careers available at a zoo. Colorful sidebars encourage children to think, create, guess and ask questions about a career working in a zoo.

May 2019

At the Zoo: Rhymes and Songs

Animal Riddles
They are big and they are gray,
And their trunks swing and sway.
What are they? (ELEPHANT)

Bananas are their favorite things,
And they like to chatter and like to swing.
What are they?( MONKEY)

These animals bark and are colored brown.
They have flippers and swim all around.
What are they? (SEAL)

They have necks that are long, long, long.
If you guess a turtle, you are wrong, wrong, wrong!
What are they? (GIRAFFE)

They are sort of like a horse,
Except for their black and white stripes, of course.
What are they? (ZEBRA)

They are a kind of cat,
But they have a mane and Roar (Roar) like that.
What are they?(LION)

These birds can’t fly and they look funny.
They’re black all over except for a white tummy.
What are they? (PENGUIN)

These animals like to hop around.
A tummy pouch is where their babies can be found.
What are they? (KANGAROO)

They don’t come in just one color or style.
but they all like to giggle, laugh and smile.
What are they? (CHILDREN)

The Animals at the Zoo
(Tune: “The Wheels on the Bus”)

The lions at the zoo go roar, roar, roar,
Roar, roar, roar. Roar, roar, roar.
The lions at the zoo go roar, roar, roar.
All day long.

Other verses:
snakes … hiss, hiss, hiss
hyenas … ha ha ha
monkey … ooh ooh ooh

One Elephant in the Bath
One elephant in the bath
Going for a swim.
Knock, knock, (Clap twice)
Splash, splash, (Slap knees twice)
Come on in! (Motion with both hands to come in)
Repeat up to five elephants.
Five elephants in the bath
Going for a swim.
Knock, knock,
Splash, splash,
They all fell in!

Animal Fair
I went to the Animal Fair.
The birds and the beasts were there.
The big baboon by the light of the moon,
Was combing his auburn hair.

You should have seen the monk,
He sat on the elephant’s trunk.
The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees.
And that was the end of the monk, the monk.
And that was the end of the monk.

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