We recently took a day trip to our local zoo. My 16 month old daughter loved every part of the trip and was so excited about each animal. As we explored, I snapped pictures of her favorite animals so that we could talk about them more when we got home. Once we got home, I decided to use the animal images to create a simple zoo animal hunt activity for her. Materials Needed for Zoo Animal Hunt:
  • photos of zoo animals
  • laminating paper/contact paper
  • scissors
  • Sharpie
  • space the hide the animals
  • bucket or basket (optional)
Directions to create zoo animal cards:
  1. Print out images on cardstock or photo paper
  2. Cut them out and laminate them
  3. Write the name of each animal on the back of the cards

Once our zoo animal cards were created, we started exploring and playing with them. Successful toddler activities are typically simple, open-ended, and repetitive. Activities toddlers typically love include…
  • dumping
  • putting items in buckets
  • looking at pictures
  • making sounds
  • learning new words
  • interacting with an adult in a fun way
We embedded all of these activities into our zoo animal hunt.
Some of the ways we used our zoo animal hunt cards are listed below:
  1. Show a zoo animal card to the toddler, say the animal name, and hand it to them. Have them hold it, manipulate it, and look at it. Have a bucket close by and ask the toddler to put the _____ animal in the bucket. Repeat again and again until you’ve talked about all the animals.
  2. Show one animal card to your child, say it’s name, put it in the bucket and then ask your toddler to dump the ______ animal out of the bucket. My daughter loved this!! Put another card in and repeat again and again.
  3. Hide the zoo animal cards around the room in easy to spot places. Walk around the room together and help your toddler find the cards. As she finds a card, say the animal name, make the animal sound, and see if she can try to say the name or sound too! Keep looking until you’ve found all the cards. With my 16 month old I found that 3-4 cards were the most we could look for at a time.
  4. Lay the zoo animal cards out on the floor. Walk around the room with your child and say something like, “Let’s go sit on the elephant.” Work together to perform the action. Then, choose another animal. Say something like, “Let’s go hop on the rabbit.” Perform the action and then move on to another animal. The actions can relate to sounds or movements that the zoo animal makes or can just be fun actions that you child likes to do. (For example, stomp on the bear, clap by the zebra, kiss the turtle, crawl to the elephant, etc)
After we did each activity my daughter clapped and clapped for herself because she was so proud when she accomplished a task or said a new word.
I loved this activity because it was a great language building and learning activity for my daughter, in addition to being a fun way for us to spend time together. This could easily be adapted for older kids and could be changed based on your child’s interests or current obsessions.
Here are two other awesome toddler resources if you’re looking for more great toddler ideas:
50 Activities Just For Your Toddler via Hands On: As We Grow
10 Blogs for Tots via Rainy Day Mum
What is your toddler’s favorite activity to do with you?

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  1. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.

    Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! However,
    how could we communicate?

  2. Thank you for this post! My son received a container of wooden animal cards for his birthday and I’ve run out of ideas of how to use them. I like that you embraced a toddlers love of dumping things and of just being silly (sitting on the cards, etc).

  3. Oh how lovely and fun! Nothing quite like exploring Zoo animals. Love all the different ways you suggested for using them. Brilliant.

    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!

    Maggy & Alissa

  4. What a great idea. I was wondering what I was going to do with all those animal pictures I took.

  5. I LOVE THIS!!!! My toddler loves animals- what a fun way to bring the zoo back home with you!

  6. Love all of these suggestions! We’re going to the zoo this Saturday and I would love to try some of these activities with my little guy when we get back! Thanks for sharing!