Fun with Toddlers – Animal Theme

Crafts to Do

Make a clothespin creature: With clothespins, pipe cleaners, cardstock, googly eyes, pompoms and more, there are so many creatures you can create! (You can find sources for all these ideas on my Pinterest page at

Do animal facepaint and/or make animal costumes. Read the book Fraidyzoo by Heder. (It’s available at the King County library) It’s all about making crazy animal costumes out of materials you have around the house or can find in your recycling bin. See what animal costumes you can create!

Invitations to Play

Put out a collection of toy animals, and materials to build a habitat with or build a zoo or farm. This could be a playdough activity, or you could put items in a sensory bin with beans or rice, or could be nature play with sticks and rocks, or combined with building toys such as Duplos.

Learning Activities

  • Sorting. There are so many sorting activities you can do with toy animals. Put them in a pile, and ask your child to sort: farm animals from zoo animals, or mammals from non-mammals, or things that climb trees from things that swim, or sort by color or size.
  • Animal Sounds. Show your child pictures of animals, and teach your child animal sounds. Then ask your child “what noise does a cow make?” Praise them when they say moo. And so on. Children can often make recognizable animal sounds before they have much language, so it’s a fun way to see how much your child really understands. If you want your child to speak multiple languages, ask the question in other languages (like “Que dice la vaca?”). They will learn the answer is also moo. This helps them start making connections between meaning in the different languages.

Songs to Sing

  • To the tune of Wheels on the Bus: “The lions at the zoo say roar roar roar, roar roar roar, roar roar roar. The lions at the zoo say roar roar roar all day long.” Repeat with any animal sound you want.
  • Old McDonald. Old McDonald had a farm. E I E I O // And on that farm there was a cow. E I E I O // With a moo moo here and a moo moo there. // Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo moo. // Old McDonald had a farm. E I E I O
  • Three little monkeys. Three little monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell off and bumped his head. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said: “No more monkeys jumping on the bed”.

Books to Read

  • Dear Zoo by Campbell. Fabulous lift the flap. “I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet…” See what they send!
  • Good Night, Gorilla by Rathmann. A charming (mostly) wordless book about a gorilla escaping its cage.
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? or Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? by Carle. Great repeating rhyme and rhythm. Children love to predict what will be on the next page.
  • Poke a Dot: Old MacDonald’s Farm. This is a counting book. Each page has plastic dots you can “pop”. I’m normally not a fan of “gimmicky” books, but I think this one is great for learning one-to-one correspondence, an essential math skill.
  • Who’s Like Me? This is a lift the flap (uncover and discover) book, where one animal says something like “I’m a bunny. I am furry and breathe air. Who’s like me?”

More Animal Themed Activities

Check out my Fun with Toddlers posts on Zoo Theme and Farm Theme. Or check out my preschool STEM posts about Animal Classification, Adaptations, Habitats and more.

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