The weather is finally cooling down and people are venturing outside. One of my family’s favorite places to be is the zoo. We got our first zoo membership when my oldest child was just a few months old. She’s now 10 and we are still big fans of the zoo. Now, I have two little guys who aren’t in school full time yet so we try to head to the zoo once a week to get wiggles out and learn about the animals. Since we have our membership and go so often, I have come up with some tips to help make the most of your trip to the zoo.
When the boys and I go to the zoo, we usually only spend about an hour and a half at the zoo each time we go. I have learned that an hour and a half is the perfect amount of time to burn off all the extra energy but not too tired so that I have to carry them both out to the car to avoid meltdowns. I’ve also found that in that amount of time we can usually get through about half of the zoo, going at 4 year old pace.
Did you know that as a member you can get into the zoo one hour earlier than the rest of the public? That makes it so you are able to go to the zoo before the crowds and before the heat. The hours just changed for the winter so now the zoo is open from 9 AM – 5 PM. With those hours it is easy to drop the big kids off at school and go straight to the zoo. It also makes it easy to be home by lunchtime so I can still get things done around the house before the whole crew comes home.
Don’t Forget the Snacks
Another important thing to bring to the zoo, water and snacks. For some reason my kids are never more hungry than when we are not at home. Sometimes when we go to the zoo I feel like I’m packing for a weekend long backpacking trip. I try to keep our snacks simple and healthy like a granola bar, a small bag of sliced fruit, and the most important thing, fishies. Refillable water bottles are another great thing to have at the zoo. There are lots of drinking fountains all around the zoo that you can use to refill your water bottle. It’s much more affordable than having to buy drinks at every concession stand.
Burn That Energy
We like to use the zoo as a place to burn off all that energy that kids naturally come by. When my boys are stuck at home for the day, my poor house ends up looking like a pack of feral animals live in it. The zoo is the perfect place to let them loose. Between the walks between animals, playgrounds, splash pads, and exercise stations, there are plenty of places to run around. It’s also very entertaining to ask your kids to act like the animals you are seeing. I’ve seen some great flamingo stances, moving around like monkey, and swinging elephant trunks.
The zoo is a great place to teach kids about not just animals but colors and numbers as well. Several of the exhibits have interactive signs that my kids love to push the buttons on. While the mini lessons that come from the signs are great for older kids, my younger kids get more out of me asking them questions and answering theirs. “What color is the flamingo?” “What sound does the monkey make?” “How many frogs do you see in the tank?” “What do you think the giraffes are eating?” “What is the smallest animal we saw today?” “What is the biggest animal we saw today?” “What letter does Alligator start with?” Those types of questions keep them engaged and learning while we are playing.
The most important reason that I go to the zoo with my kids is to make memories. I want them to be able to look back on fun things that we did while they were growing up, like going to the zoo and acting like crazy animals. When was the last time you went to the zoo? What is your favorite animal?