Education supervisor Brittany Serna guest blogs on ZooHoo!
Every child wants a WILD adventure. In our Zoo preschool programs, little ones ages 3-5 experience just that – and they become some of the youngest animal experts you’ll ever meet!
They may just tell you how “okapis are like giraffes,” or show you how to waddle like a penguin. With a 106-acre Zoo as their classroom, it’s no wonder they’re so knowledgeable!
When they’re not out learning about the Zoo, our preschoolers learn through play. Within each play experience they solve problems, use their creativity, learn how to communicate their needs, and figure out firsthand what it’s like to care for an animal.
In dramatic play, they pretend to be Dallas Zoo keepers, veterinarians, and horticulture staff. The children look at real animal X-rays up-close, create pretend compost, build their own animal exhibits, and more. They especially love pretending to dress up as one of our many animal residents, while others can dress up as the keepers and prepare the animals’ diets.
The way preschoolers care for the animals isn’t all just pretend; they also make enrichment projects each week. This past year’s class created items, such as bamboo tubes stuffed with food for red river hogs, pumpkin carvings for Cat Row, artwork for caracals, mobiles for giraffes, and ice treats for primates. During the spring session, the preschool class visited with the mandrill keepers and watched an ice treat toss. They quickly followed the mandrills in the window and pointed with joy and excitement as the mandrills ate the treats they created for them.
When the children aren’t able to see the animals enjoying the enrichment treats in person, the keepers pass along photos and share stories with the preschoolers. It makes their experience with the animals personal and establishes a one-of-a-kind connection.
We are gearing up for the 2015-2016 Preschool Safari year, and can’t wait to welcome the next group of young animal lovers as we explore and experience the Dallas Zoo in a unique way. For more information and to register, please CLICK HERE.