This “game” has been on my list of activities since J was 7 or 8 months old. It’s simple and I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. It requires no prep work and kids love it! The only thing you have to do is check your pride at the door.
So what is the “Visiting Zoo”? Just pretend to be any animal that pops into your head. Hop around like a rabbit and scrunch your nose (J always loves Mommy scrunching her nose!), slither like a snake, waddle like a duck,… you get it. And you get why pride has to be checked at the door. The more into it you are, the more your little one will like it (especially as a toddler!).
Babyhood: J started out just in awe of Mommy (or maybe it was shock). He would stare or smile or giggle or look at me like I was loony. He quickly learned to make the animal sounds but couldn’t manage the movements.
Pretoddler: J started trying to imitate the animals with me, both in sound and movement. This is great practice with gross motor skills (jumping, slithering, crawling on hands and feet). Instead of me chosing the animal, I started having him pick the animal. I was amazed at the animals he remembered. Caution: They will chose animals that we have no clue how to imitate (like a giraffe, what does a giraffe sound like?)
Early Toddler: J is getting better with his imitations and can do more animals. I sometimes have him chose animals or pick flashcards from a bowl. He has gotten to where I can act out an animal and he can name it.
Toddler and Beyond: Eventually you can add homemade costumes to look like the animal (have them get creative with household items to use); have them draw the written word out of a hat to read instead of using a picture or use animal categories/classifications and they have to name an animal in that classification before you’ll act it out.
Age Attempted: maybe 7 months at first?
Teachable moments: obviously animal sounds, also physical traits of animals come up (like elephants have a trunk instead of nose, paws instead of feet, beaks, tails, …); gross motor skills, animal classification, animal recognition, lose some inhibitions (though toddlers have few, maybe that’s a teachable moment for mom/dad!)
Try Again? over and over