Toddler Programs Chapter

By Heather Coleson

The Wild World of Storytime

Books to Share

1,2,3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann.

How Loud is a Lion? by Clare Beaton.

Splash! by Flora McDonnell.

Books to Show or Booktalk

Rain by Manya Stojic.

Roar! A Noisy Counting Book by Pamela Duncan Edwards.

Starry Safari by Linda Ashman.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.

Bulletin Board

We’re Wild About Storytime!

Decorate your bulletin board with masks of animals that are common to zoos. Include photographs of children participating in storytime interspersed throughout the masks. An assortment of templates for wild animal masks can be found at The Colchester Zoo,


Create a display with easy non-fiction books such as the Pebble Plus Series from Capstone Press,, about wild animals like lions, tigers, bears and gorillas. Gather small wild animal figures from staff or patrons, or purchase plastic animals from a toy store, to place around the books.


Smilemakers,, sells “Safari Animal Stickers” that can be given to toddlers who participate in the program.


Serve juice boxes and animal crackers. While eating your animal crackers, sing, “My Cracker Zoo.” Lyrics can be found at Kididdles, rics/m075.html

Sign Language

Instructions for signing various zoo animals can be found at Lesson Tutor, Teach the toddlers the sign for one or two of the animals, like the elephant, mentioned in “My Cracker Zoo” and encourage the kids to sign when the animal is named in the song.


Sing “We’re Going to the Zoo” to the tune of London Bridge. Lyrics can be found at Preschool Education,

Sing, “Do You Know the Jungle Animals?” to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?” using the lyrics from Everything Preschool,

Rhymes and Poetry

An Elephant Goes Like This and That


An elephant goes like this, (stomp one foot)

And that. (stomp the other foot)

He’s terribly huge, (hold arms overhead)

He’s terribly fat. (hold arms in front)

He has no fingers, (wiggle fingers)

He has no toes, (wiggle toes)

But goodness gracious,

What a nose! (hold arm in front of nose like a trunk)

Recite “Bears Everywhere” on pages 35-36 in Storytimes for Two-Year-Olds by Judy Nichols.

Audio Recordings

“Going to the Zoo” on Raffi the Singable Songs Collection by Raffi.

“Ants in My Pants” on Late Last Night by Joe Scruggs.

Flannel Board Stories

Read Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin. In advance, prepare flannel board pieces using the patterns from DLTK at Before reading the book, distribute flannel board pieces to the children. Let the children bring up their flannel piece when they hear you say their animal. After reading go through and have the children name all of the animals on the flannel board and tell you what color they are. Either prepare multiple copies of the animals so that several children bring up the same animal or read the story several times to allow all the children to participate.

Stories to Tell

Tell “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” Many variations are available in books or online and children enjoy participating in the story by mimicking the actions. Alternately, create a flannel board using patterns on pages 45-48 in 2’s Experience Felt Board Fun by Liz and Dick Wilmes.


Paper Bag Zebra

Make a paper bag zebra. The materials list, pattern pieces, and directions are from DLTK at Pre-cut all of the pieces and put everything in a Ziploc baggy or paper bag. Alternately, simplify the project even more by having the toddlers color the individual stripes instead of cutting them out and coloring the stripe pieces. Leave the tail off and use giant wiggle eyes as demonstrated in the photo provided here.

Zebra bag pattern

Folded Paper Giraffe

Make a folded paper giraffe by following the directions and using the pattern available from Danielle’s Place at Animals.html.

Aboriginal Masks

Make aboriginal masks using the patterns and directions from Making Friends at

Games and Activities

Who Belongs in the Zoo?

Show the children pictures of domestic and exotic animals and have the children identify which animals they might see at the zoo and which animals they might see in their home or in the park. Zoo animals include lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, and giraffes. Domestic and local animals include dogs, cats, squirrels, goldfish, and hamsters. Printable pictures of animals, both wild and domestic, can be found at DLTK, and at Print out the black and white templates and color them in typical colors.

Guest Speakers

Invite representative from the zoo to talk to the kids about the different animals the zoo has. If possible, have the zoo bring an animal to show.


Barney Lets Go to the Zoo. (30 min.)

Good Night, Gorilla and More Bedtime Stories. (51 min.)

Web Sites

Animal Match

Play an animal matching game at the Dallas Zoo web site.

Professional Resources

Zoo Animals

This site links educators to information on zoos, animals, puzzles, rhymes, and other activities.

Texas Reading Club 2010 Programming Manual / Catch the Reading Express!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011