Zoo-Looking Lesson Plans: Preschool Literacy and Math Activities with Mem Fox
Zoo-Looking by Mem Fox is a perfect book to use for shared reading. It's a simple story about a little girl and the animals she sees during a visit to the zoo. It has rhyming and repetitive text that your class will love to "read" with you. Here are some activities which can be used for a week-long shared reading of the book, used individually with a zoo unit of study or incorporated into other Mem Fox lesson plans.
- A copy of the book of Zoo-Looking (if using for shared reading, use the big book version)
- sentence strips
- Pocket chart
- crayons, paper for the class
Monday: Introduce the book Zoo-Looking to the class. Look at the cover and read the title, author, and illustrator. Ask students to predict what the story will be about. This introduction is a great way to teach students about concepts of print. Show them the title page and the information found there. As you begin to read the book use book language - "Let's look on the first page of the story..." You might say some thing like, "It looks like this little girl is going somewhere with her Dad. I bet it's the zoo. What animals do you thinks that she will see there?" After letting the students guess, continue reading the story. Continue to comment on the pictures and story as you go along pointing to the words and then the pictures on each page.
Tuesday: Tell the students that you are going to reread Zoo-Looking and that they can join in if they want. Read it several times allowing the students to become more comfortable with the words. Point out that the words in the story rhyme. As you read, don't say the rhyming words and let the students chime in with the rhyme.
Wednesday: Read the book again, this time stopping on each page to count the words. Do the first few pages yourself and then call students up to point to the words as the class counts.
Thursday: Talk about different animals at a zoo, and then make a chart of animals seen at the zoo in the book. For younger students use a simple patterned sentence like, "Susie saw a bear." For older kids you can follow the pattern in the book, "Susie looked at the bear and the bear looked back." Let each child make a sentence with his name for you to write on the chart.
Friday: Read over your chart from the previous day. Write each student's sentence on a sentence strip. Give each student a large piece of paper to glue his/her sentence on and then illustrate it. Make a class big book out of the papers and put it in your book center to be enjoyed by everyone.
Have each student read his sentence to you pointing to each word as s/he reads.
Read other books with a zoo theme. Some good choices are If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo by Mary Jean Hendrick, 1, 2, 3 To The Zoo by Eric Carle, and Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell.
Two math activities you can do after reading Zoo-Looking are sorting and graphing. These activities would provide a great introduction to both sorting and graphing.
The students should be familiar with the animals in the book. It is helpful to bring in real pictures of any of the animals that they may not know.
- sentence strips and markers
Write the names of the animals in the book on sentence strips and add a small picture to help the students identify each one. Cut them apart and give each animal to a student. Have the students stand with their animal at the front of the room and sort themselves into groups that you call out. Start out with groups like "feathers" and "no feathers" or "stripes" and "no stripes." Together check to make sure everyone is in the right group. Then try to sort in a different way. Let new students come up to "be" the animals and continue sorting. Depending on how quickly they catch on, you could try sorting into three groups - maybe "feathers," "fur" and "scales."
If you want to asses this activity, make a simple sorting activity with animal pictures. Have the students cut out the animals and glue them onto a sheet of paper into two self-selected or predetermined categories.
A simple way to begin to teach about graphing is to let the students be the graph. On another day use the same sentence strip cards that you used for sorting and once again sort the students into two groups. After they are sorted have them make two lines and compare which is longer. Make sure that they are equally spaced in line. Continue to sort and graph with the students, asking questions about how many in each line and which has more.
Use the animal name cards to make a graph on chart paper. Practice sorting with other objects such as buttons, pattern blocks, or the students themselves (everyone with brown hair, everyone with a sister, etc.)
There are a lot of preschool literacy and math activities to go with Mem Fox lesson plans for the book Zoo-Looking, and your students will have great fun in the process! If you have some to share, we welcome your comments below.