We made it through our 15th week of Tot School and our theme this past week was Zoo Animals! Grace turned 18 months old this past week as well. We are half way to the big T.W.O! Time sure does fly these days! Here’s what we did this week.
We started off our week with the book Dear Zoo by Robert Campbell. It’s a lift a flap board book and miss Grace loved discovering the different Zoo animals behind all the flaps in this book (the Zoo is sending different animals to a little one asking for a pet). We scored our book this week off of Amazon for around $6, and I’m so glad we can add this to our collection, because it’s already a favorite for Grace. We reread and reread this book all week long, even multiple times at each sitting.
We danced all week long to Story Bots’ Wild Animal Songs YouTube Video and we also watched a special from my childhood…Barney – Let’s Go to the Zoo throughout the week that was also found on YouTube. This was Grace’s first introduction to Barney and I do believe I might have to find some more Barney videos for her to watch. There was lots of smiles, dancing, and clapping while she watched Barney!
Instead of a sensory bin, I set out a Melissa and Doug Chunky Safari Puzzle (pictured above) for Grace to play with throughout the week. We were gifted this puzzle from one of Grace’s sweet cousins who used to play with this puzzle as well. Grace likes to take all her animals out of the puzzle and collect them in one place. My little sorter. The chunky pieces make picking up the animals a lot easier for small hands, and at the start of our zoo animal themed week Grace hadn’t mastered putting all the pieces back into the puzzle where they belonged, but we continued to work on that all week long.
Our next activity for the week was playing with a Little People Zoo we were gifted by a sweet couple we had purchased some outdoor play items from. We were given this nice little set about a week ago (What perfect timing!) that only required a little Clorox wipe down! Grace loved playing with this Zoo. Only a few animals actually came with this set, so I added some zoo themed bath squirters we had and they worked wonderfully.
She really enjoyed the slide on this toy, and would take some of her play balls and roll them down as well. In addition to the puzzle, we also played with this toy all week long. Some of the animals that did come with this set would make animal noises as well, and by the end of the week Grace was even roaring like a lion when asked “what does the lion say?” Too cute!
We enjoyed some water play outside for our next activity. We gave our zoo animal bath squirters a bath! I just filled a small storage bin with some soapy water and added the bath squirters, placed the bin, Grace, and another small basket (for her to sort) on our outside blanket. To my complete surprise, she was actually a little unsure! She would grab an animal, and then whine about the bubbles on her hands…ha! For reasons unknown, she was just not having this activity at that moment. So we went exploring through the backyard for a bit and did some other things, and finally she came back to the blanket and decided to play with the zoo animal bath. Grace grabbed the animals out of their bath one by one, and put them in the basket then dunked them all back in the bath water. I would ask her where the black and white penguin was or where the pink elephant was etc. and she would pick the correct one each time! So cool to see her make those connections! We continued this until she had splashed and dumped all the soapy water out of her bin. Then she collected all her clean zoo animals in the little basket and carried them back inside.
Our next activity of the week was unpacking zoo animals sent to Grace from the Zoo, to go along with our book of the week. Again, I used what I had around the house and took the animal puzzle pieces and placed them in different sized boxes and envelopes, addressed them to Grace from the Zoo with a sharpie and placed them in a basket for her to explore. This was an awesome fine motor skill building activity, as Grace had to open the boxes and envelopes to get to the animal puzzle pieces. Grace did need a little help with some of the boxes, but she was so surprised to see each animal when she opened each package. I placed the empty puzzle beside her and she would put each piece exactly where it was supposed to go! Go Grace! She hasn’t been able to do this before now! After she was done unpacking the animal pieces she continued to play with them by putting them all back in the empty basket, and pulling them back out again. This girl loves to sort!
Our next activity for our zoo animal themed week was a new concept for Grace, making a zoo animal themed scene from stickers. I found this little sticker set at our local dollar store. It included 2 sheets of stickers with various animals you would see at the Zoo and a 12″x6″ paper scene to place the stickers on. Grace has never played with stickers before, so I was excited to see what her reaction to this activity would be. I taped the scene to our trusty little cookie sheet (dollar store) that I use for so many of our activities then I peeled off one sticker and stuck it to the scene for Grace to see what we were doing. Then I peeled off stickers one by one and named the animals as I went for her to place wherever she wanted on the little scene, and she did just that! She was a little confused by the stickiness at first but realized she could get them off and on to the little scene where they belonged.
I think she did a really good job! I especially love the flower in the cloud, because all clouds should grow flowers don’t you think? Amazingly she never put a sticker anywhere but the little scene we were working with, which surprised me! I was prepared for stickers everywhere! Ha! I think this activity was totally worth that $1.
We had big plans for a family outing at the end of this week, that would have been the perfect ending for this week’s theme. You guessed it…we were pumped to spend a day at the Zoo! Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate for us, at all. We did however have a rain plan! We grabbed a cousin and headed to Safari Nation, a local indoor play park for kids with a safari theme. Perfect for spotting some of those Zoo Animals we’ve been learning about all week! We had a blast and Grace played for hours!
Safari Nation had a wonderful section that was completely padded for kids under the age of four, so Grace could run around, climb, and explore to her heart’s content, while her older cousin could run and play in the massive playground, enjoy arcade games, and ride the bumper cars with his uncle!
Grace and I had so much fun learning about Zoo Animals this past week! Her little lion roar is just the cutest, and while we didn’t actually make it to the zoo this week (we will definitely make it soon), we were thrilled to be able to visit Safari Nation on a rainy afternoon! 🦒
EVERYDAY a little Grace 🌷