Ways to encourage learning at the zoo

If you have kids, then you will probably be visiting a zoo at some point in their childhood. Use your visit to the zoo as an opportunity to help them learn and discover more about animals and take advantage of the educational resources available.

Ways that you can engage in meaningful learning experiences with your children include:

  • Reading informational signs to them or having them read the signs
  • Talking about things they learned
  • Asking them to name their favorite animals
  • Doing a scavenger hunt
  • Letting them navigate the zoo with the map
  • Petting or feeding certain animals
  • Talking to a zookeeper or attending a zookeeper informational talk
  • Having them describe different animals in their own words
  • Talking about animal habitats and behaviors
  • Discussing animal diet and how it compares to our own diets
  • Journaling about their visit to the zoo
  • Checking the zoo website for any information about special events (i.e. Endangered Species Day, World Oceans Day, etc)

Right now until June 30, 2017, the Oklahoma City Zoo has a FREE scavenger safari for kids ages 3-11. Pick up the green scavenger safari card at Guest Services or the ZooFriends office and then set out to hunt for green signs at 8 different animal exhibits. Each sign contains information about conservation and how certain people are helping animals. There is also a symbol the kids will look for on the sign and match it to the one on the card that they can scratch off to reveal a letter. Once they have found all 8, they can return the card to the Safari Gift Shop for a prize!

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We have also designed a FREE field trip guide printable that you can bring along on your next visit to the zoo. It includes a scavenger hunt, key vocabulary words that you can talk about throughout your field trip, a matching activity and more. The second page of the guide is the spiritual component and mini-devotional that highlights an attribute of God related to the zoo. You can download, share or print the guide below.

 

Why you should get a zoo membership

One of our favorite activities around our area is the Oklahoma City Zoo. We have been known to go almost weekly when the weather is nice, so a membership is invaluable to us and pays for itself in just a few visits. During the month of May, Mathis Brothers Furniture offers a special deal on annual zoo memberships.

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This is a great deal since the family membership (includes 2 adults and 5 kids) is usually $70, so you save $21. Instead of getting the $49 family pass, my family just gets the Wildcard membership (includes one person and one guest) for $35, since it’s usually just me and the kids going during the work week and kids younger than 3 are free. The Wildcard is normally $50, so this is a saving of $15.

In order to take advantage of this deal, you have to go to the physical store at 3434 W. Reno, bypass all the salespeople and head straight to the back where they will have a tent and tables set up. They have iPads available where you enter your information and pay with a credit card, and then you get to pick out a stuffed animal for your little one (or yourself) and head out the door. The membership cards are mailed to you in a few weeks, but they also email you a temporary card to use immediately.

One huge perk of being a zoo member is the reciprocity program. Since the Oklahoma City Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, members can get free or discounted admission to other member zoos all around the country and one or two in Mexico and Canada. Here is a link to the participating zoos and benefits. They recommend calling ahead to whatever zoo you are planning to visit to confirm your benefits. From our experience, we have usually gotten half off admission to other zoos. We have used our pass at the Dallas Zoo, Memphis Zoo and Houston Zoo.

Other lesser known benefits of a membership at the Oklahoma City Zoo is that they’ll send you a quarterly magazine and an annual calendar, and you can get a 10% discount at zoo gift shops, concessions and classes.

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