Tag Archives: children’s play

Going to the Zoo Through Play and Books

Our play zoo!

My little gal V has a stuffed animal collection that I’ve worked to limit since she joined our family a little over two years ago.  I have put out the word to curtail gift giving of fluffy friends since year one.  Still, in addition to the 10 or so that accompany her to bed every night, we have a pet net (remember these from the 80’s…I saved mine) and a large Rubbermaid bin full of the little friends.

So it came to me one day that we had a full-on menagerie living in our house and we might introduce that element into some pretend play.  In a bored moment, V and I pulled out all the stuffed friends and decided to make a zoo.

We grouped the animals into area by type (birds, bugs, jungle animals, farm animals, dogs, elephants, etc.).  It came to me that this activity actually is a great one for helping kids sort and categorize objects by similarities or differences (kind of like the Sesame Street activity:  “One of these things is not like the other; one of these things doesn’t belong.  Can you guess which thing is not like the other before I finish this song…”).

Sitting amidst our pretend zoo, we decided to read some zoo related stories which I’ve listed for you below.  I know this is a simple activity, but it’s something to take up some time on a rainy fall day when you are at a loss for what might keep your toddler/preschooler occupied.

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle:  This book involves physical motion that is sure to get your little one moving and mimicking animal actions.

123 to the Zoo by Eric Carle:  This is a wordless counting book; your little ones can practice their animal identification and counting skills as they look at the colorful illustrations.

Zoo Parade by Harriet Ziefert and Simms Taback:  This rhythmic story has been a favorite in our house for a while.  We used to use animal puppets while reading it aloud.  The rhymes and sounds of the story will have you chanting along…”What kind of walking will you do today?”  V loves this one and so do I; I think I have much of it committed to memory!

And to bring a little fun sing-a-long into your play, remember you can always sing “Mama’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow” with Raffi!

Enjoy your zoo play and make good use of the mountain of stuffed animals in your home!


Why My Daughter Might Be An Elf-in-training:

My daughter V, has recently entered the twos.  Though the twos come along with some increasing needs for independence, it is our experience that the twos also usher in some mega cuteness as V starts to engage in ever more  creative play and expresses her creativity with an ever-growing vocabulary.
I find V’s pretend play to be endlessly amusing.  She serves us up a side of car with a main dish of Mr. Potato Head’s hat in her play kitchen.  She makes a choo-choo tunnel from two soap bottles.  She uses a rolled up window screen as a lance for playing knights.  She named one of her baby dolls after my husband. This weekend, she put on a veiled princess hat and my fake pearls because she wanted to marry. Then she requested that M and I also wear beaded necklaces for the occasion. When I inquired who she was going to marry, she said, “Um…(wheels turning)…Dada!”  Then she gave him a kiss and said, “Marry Mama!” Apparently, we are all married now.
What truly cracks me up though is her obsession with bags.

More bags

She has a ton of bags, some handbags I’ve lent her for pretend play since I currently am saddled with the diaper bag, some gift bags from various holidays, some cloth shopping bags and kiddy backpacks.  V just loves bags, and putting things in bags.  This week, I tried to confiscate one of the torn gift bags from her play room.  Not only did she recover the bag from the recycling pile, she strapped it to the back of her little scooter train, and loaded it with miscellany from around the house.  When I detached the broken bag as she was having difficulty moving her train laden with loot, she found a carry-on bag I had pulled out for our trip home for the holidays, reattached it to her train, and filled it with loot.

Getting ready for Grammy's house! Note that baby is along for the ride...

Currently, one of her bags includes a kitchen towel, a handful of corn chips wrapped in a napkin, mardi gras beads, a stuffed elephant, two books, a cloth tool set, a wooden peg, a stacking ring, the faucet from her play kitchen, a pink ribbon she wears as a belt to dress up, her baby doll (M’s) pants, and a purple matchbox car in yet another, smaller bag.


This girl is prepared for everything.
I think the bag play originated around Halloween, when V first learned to carry a purple pumpkin bag to Trick-or-Treat.  She still hauls a bag around the house asking for candy, and I promptly fill it with her toy food from her toy kitchen.  The bag play has evolved though, and I feel it may be related to all the stories she’s read and watched about Santa and his bag of toys.  Perhaps she is in training to be an elf.  I know she is also packing and taking a train to Grammy’s house for the holidays.  Or perhaps she just takes after her mother, who follows the motto “Be Prepared” when I pack the diaper bag.  In any case, her journeys continue to amuse and I think Santa would be lucky to have such a thoughtful little elf join his sleigh packing crew!

V's "Shop-n-go" as she calls it, loaded up with the stuff that won't fit in her bags...

Happy Holidays to you and yours and thanks for reading during my first year of blogging!  Best wishes for the new year. We will be visiting family for the holidays, so posts may be intermittent, but keep checking!

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