I think it's safe to say that ALL toddlers love a trip to the zoo. We are lucky to have a pretty fantastic zoo close to where we live so we take full advantage of that and visit every few weeks or so. Madelynn always loves seeing what the animals are up to, so I knew this theme would be TONS of fun!
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Here were our plans for Zoo Week:
And here are the details of each activity:
Our favorite books this week were:
1, 2, 3 to the Zoo By Eric Carle
Elephants By Sydnie M. Kleinhenz
Lions By Catherine Ipcizade
Zebras By Catherine Ipcizade
Giraffes By Catherine Ipcizade
Draw & Stamp Zoo: 
I found this set of zoo animal stamps from Melissa & Doug and knew it would be the perfect inspiration for Madelynn to design and draw her own zoo. She drew trees, leaves, grass, water and even a slide for her penguins, then stamped away with the cute little animals.
Elephant Craft: 
I cut out the pieces for this elephant ahead of time and then had Madelynn glue them together. Afterwards I plopped a few globs of blue paint onto the paper and Madelynn blew them with a straw to make it look like the elephant was blowing water out of her trunk.
Handprint Giraffe: 
I helped Madelynn make a yellow hand print first. Then she used a paintbrush to add a long neck and head. Then she used a q-tip and her fingers to make the giraffe spots.
Zebra Painting: 
Lots of fun process art this week.  For this zebra, I cut out the pieces ahead of time for Madelynn to glue together.  Then she used a q-tip to paint stripes and finally she added a few snips of black and white striped yarn to the tail and head to finish him off.
Paper Plate Lion: 
Paper plates always make for cute and easy crafts.  For this lion Madelynn first made snips all the way around the plate to add a little 3D effect for the mane. Then she painted the center of the plate yellow and the outer part of plate orange. After the plate was nice and dry I gave her pre-cut pieces of construction paper to create the lion's face.
Zookeeper Says: 
For this activity, I pulled out the dice from our Bear theme and recycled it into a new game.  We played simon says with animal actions! I would say "Zookeeper says move like a ___" and roll the dice to fill in the blank.  Since the dice were from Brown Bear we crawled like a bear, flapped wings like a bird, galloped like a horse, hopped like a frog, swam like a fish and waddled like a duck.
Elephant Tidy Up: 
For this activity, I blew up a long balloon to use for an elephant trunk.  If you don't have a long balloon you could also use a pool noodle or even a few paper towel tubes taped together.  Then I taped a rectangle on the floor and scattered ping pong balls around the room. Madelynn tried to use her trunk to push the balls into the rectangle.
Zoo Animal Roundup: 
We have this awesome set of alphabet zoo animals from Fisher Price that have letters on them so I knew I had to find a fun way to use them this week.  I hid them all around the yard and since they have capital letters on them, I wrote the alphabet in lower case with sidewalk chalk for Madelynn to match them to. She had fun running around the yard trying to round up all the animals in the zoo.
 Animal Action: 
We love dancing to the Animal Action song by Greg & Steve. I looked for a version on YouTube to Dance along with and actually found this fun new Animal Action Song.  Madelynn hopped like a frog, shook like a hippo, and galloped like a horse in this fun animal song.
 Jungle Crawl:
To prep this activity, I wove green party streamers all throughout our dining room to create a jungle full of vines.  Madelynn had to crawl through the jungle without disturbing any vines and waking the animals sleeping in the jungle.
Zoo Animal Snacks: 
I had a lot of fun creating these adorable snacks for Madelynn this week. Here is what we made:

Zebra Tails: Dip pretzel sticks in melted white chocolate.  Drizzle with milk chocolate. Allow to set and enjoy!

Elephant Sandwich: Start with a thawed Unscrustable PB &J sandwich or make your own. Cut out with elephant cookie cutter and add a few peanuts.

Cheesy Giraffe: Use a colby jack cheese stick for the neck, provolone and cheddar cheese pieces for the head, celery for the grass, and food coloring pens and candy eyes for the final details.

Monkey Crackers: Spread Ritz crackers with peanut butter, add a Nilla wafer for the mouth and one half on each side for ears, use food coloring pens and candy eyes for the final details.

Lion Face: Spread Ritz crackers with peanut butter, cut thin slices of yellow and orange peppers/carrots for the mane, use candy eyes and mini/regular chocolate chips for the face.
Build a Zoo Bin: 
In this bin: White beans, alphabet zoo animals, plastic fences, trees
Play Dough Animals: 
In this bin: colored play doughfoam pieces for stripes & spots, googly eyes, snips of yarn for hair/manes/tails
Play Dough Zoo: 
In this bincolored play dough, skinny popsicle sticks, alphabet zoo animals
 Zoo Animal Slime: 
Slime Materials:
  1. 1 teaspoon borax powder
  2. 1 1/2 C water, divided
  3. 4 oz (1/2 C) Elmer's glue, clear or white
  4. food coloring

Slime Recipe:
1. Add borax powder to 1 cup of water and stir to dissolve. 
2. Pour glue into a medium mixing bowl and add 1/2 C water. 
3. Add a few drops of green food coloring and then stir to mix glue solution until smooth.
4. Pour the borax mixture into the glue mixture. Stir for a few moments and then use your hands to finish mixing. Discard excess liquid in bowl. 
5. Add small plastic animals for hiding in the slime.
Feed the Animals Bin: 
In this bin: popcorn seeds,  alphabet zoo animals, green pouch tops, small cups and spoons

Want all of this week's printables and plans?  You can grab them here:
Or you can grab our entire year of themes and plans here:
Whether you are trying to hold on to your sanity until spring break or you are in the home stretch of your school year, spring is JUST around the corner. And thank goodness because I need some warmer air and sunshine so bad!  My teacher friends and I are here with some great book suggestions to help you get some of your April planning done so you can get out and enjoy that fresh spring air. 

Finding good nonfiction books for kindergartners can be tough. I am always on the lookout for books with really great pictures and simple easy to understand text. I know I can always count on Pebble Plus books to be full of great photos and simple text. So this month I chose a set of 4 books about spring.
You can find these books on Amazon here (affiliate links).

One of the ways I use the books in this series is to make comparisons between texts.
First, we read Animals in Spring and People in Spring

Next we make an anchor chart with the things we've learned about both people and animals in the spring.

Then, we use that information and turn it into a Venn Diagram.

Finally, we read the remaining books in the All About Spring series.  After reading, students choose one of the topics (plants, animals, people, or weather) to write about.

We start by organizing our thoughts:

Then, students plan out their table of contents:

And finally they write information on each page of their book:

You can grab this writing activity for FREE here:

You can find differentiated Venn Diagram response sheets and more writing activities for your spring read alouds here:

FREE Reading Response Pages!

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Don't forget, each month, the Books Teachers Love Crew is giving away 4 of the books that we blogged about, and YOU get to choose the books you want! So scope out all 12 blog posts below, pick your favorites, and enter to win.

So it's been snowing all day here, but we're still thinking spring thoughts! This week we were on green and rainbow overload celebrating with some St. Patrick's Day fun!
*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Here were our plans for St. Patrick's Day:
And here are the details of each activity:
*This post contains affiliate links for your convenience* 

Our favorite books this week were:
St. Patrick’s Day by Anne Rockwell
Green Shamrocks by Eve Bunting
The Luckiest Leprechaun by Justine Korman

 Marshmallow Stamp Rainbow: 
For this rainbow craft I prepared a sheet of paper ahead of time by drawing the arc guidelines for the rainbow with a pencil.   Then we used a mini marshmallow and a clothespin for our paintbrush. Madelynn dipped the marshmallow into each color of tempera paint and followed the guidelines to fill in her rainbow.  This was a great fine motor and concentration activity for her.
Color Sort & Stack: 
Who doesn't love playing with their food? I stuck skewers into play dough and placed one Froot Loop of each color onto the skewers.  Madelynn worked hard to sort a tray full of cereal to stack a rainbow.
 Snip and Glue Shamrocks: 
We worked on our cutting skills with this Snip and Glue Shamrock. First, I printed a shamrock outline and cut strips of different shades of green paper. Then, Madelynn used her scissors to snip small pieces of paper, and glued them to fill in the shamrock.
 Sticky Window Rainbow: 
You know we love our sticky window activities over here. This week we made a rainbow with tissue paper. To prep the activity, I drew arcs on the contact paper with a pencil before peeling the backing off.  Then, I taped the contact paper sticky side out on the window for Madelynn to fill in.
Fizzy Rainbow:
This activity was super fun to watch because I didn't tell Madelynn what was going to happen so each new color was a surprise! To prepare the activity I put a few drops of food coloring into 6 separate cups and line them up in rainbow order.  Next, I poured baking soda into each cup until the food coloring was covered (no exact measurement needed, more baking soda=more fizzy explosion.) Then I filled another cup with white vinegar, added eye droppers and set it all up on a tray for Madelynn to explore. Without any direction she knew just what to do, as soon as she started dripping vinegar into the cups they began to fizz.  As she added more each color began to show through and become brighter and brighter. Such an easy and fun way for her to explore rainbows and practice fine motor skills.
 Rainbow Ball Game: 
This game was a combination of fine and gross motor practice.  I grabbed an O-Ball, filled it with rainbow colored scarves, then we played catch. Each time she caught the ball I named a color for her to find and pull out. Then she'd toss it back and name a color for me to find.
Rainbow Bean Bag Toss: 
For this game we used rainbow bean bags and a hula hoop for a target. The goal was to throw the bean bags into the circle. Then we counted how many made it into the circle and how many landed outside.
Rainbow Relay: 
For this relay, I gave Madelynn a bowl of rainbow colored candy and a spoon.  On the other side of the room I lined up cups for each color. When I said go, Madelynn ran one color at a time across the room to sort them into the correct cups. Of course she stopped to snack on a few along the way ;) If you don't want a giant sugar rush you could also use Froot Loops cereal instead.
Shamrock Shuffle: 
For this activity I printed small, medium, and large shamrocks, dumped them on the floor and labeled a 3 bins.  We took turns running back and forth with one shamrock at a time and dropping it in the right basket. 
 Leprechaun Leap:
To make this gross motor game a little more fun I started by cutting a beard from felt and attaching a piece of elastic to make it wearable.  Then I taped 6 lines of green tape at varying distances on the floor. I had Madelynn jump, hop on one foot, and even do a little jig from line to line to get all of her energy out.
St. Patrick's Day Snacks:
 Fruit Rainbows - This fruit rainbow was easy and could easily be made with different variations of fruit that you have on hand. We used strawberries, clementines, bananas, kiwi, blueberries, and grapes.

Lucky Charms Treats - We made these treats following the recipe for Rice Krispy treats but swapped out the cereal with Lucky Charms.  (6 cups Lucky Charms, 3 Tbsps butter, 4 cups mini marshmallows Heat butter and marshmallows in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add cereal. Press into a pan.)

 St. Patrick's Popcorn - Pop a bag of microwave popcorn. Remove any unpopped popcorn kernels. Toss in green peanut M&Ms and marshmallows. Melt vanilla candy melts according to package. Pour half of melted candy over popcorn mixture. Stir and repeat with the second half. Pour mixture onto wax paper and add sprinkles.

Graham Cracker Rainbows - Break a graham cracker in half. Spread both halves with vanilla frosting. Add a few mini marshmallows for clouds. Cut a Rainbow Airheads Xtremes in half and form an arc between the clouds.  Sprinkle frosting with blue sugar.

Licorice Rainbow - I've seen treat bags with these rainbow Twizzlers on Pinterest so I thought I'd make something similar for a special snack this week.  Since I didn't want to put them in a bag, I used a skewer and pushed it through each color. After arching the licorice back through the skewer a second time, I cut the extra length off then laid it on a plate with a few marshmallows for clouds.

 St. Patrick's Day Bin: 
In this bin: shamrock beadsgreen mega blocksgreen table scattergreen coinsglitter shamrocks/leprechaun hats(from Hobby Lobby), and green pouch lids
St. Patrick's Water Play: 

In this bin: water, green food coloring, gold coins, shamrock table scatter, green and yellow bowls and cups
 Rainbow Sort Sensory Bin: 
In this bin: white beans, colored paper rectangles, colored pom poms for sorting, and tweezers
Dig for Gold Bin: 
In this bin: rainbow rice, gold coins, scoops, and cups
Leprechaun Trap Building Bin:
In this bin: split peas, green magna tiles, gold coins, little people leprechaun (I used a zookeeper and added a few snips of felt with double stick tape for a hat and beard)

Want all of this week's printables and plans?  You can grab them here:

Or you can grab our entire year of themes and plans here:
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