Zoo Animals Thematic Centers and Math: Book of the Week GIVEAWAY

August 20, 2012

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Book of the Week GIVEAWAY: Lion’s Lunch by Fiona Tierney

Why we love this book:

In Lion’s Lunch?, little Sarah uses her gift of drawing to charm an angry, grumpy, bossy, old lion. Seeing a drawing of his “Great Big Angry” self, the lion decides he would like to change his attitude and the way he treats the other animals in the jungle. This is a good read aloud for this Back to School time of year as it is a reminder to all to treat each other with kindness and respect.

Lion's Lunch Book GIVEAWAY

We are continuing this week with our Zoo Animal Thematic Unit. Lion’s Lunch features a large variety of animals. It uses verbs to describe all of the different ways the animals move and communicate.

Zoo Thematic Unit

Last week I highlighted how I plan a Zoo Theme with shared reading, read aloud books, guided reading (FREE printable books), writing and art projects. This week I’ll continue with a focus on math and the block center.

Zoo Animals Thematic Unit

Zoo Animal Thematic Unit

Zoo Thematic Unit

Math Read Alouds

  • Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni
  • Counting at the Zoo by Kathleen Fischer

Zoo Thematic Unit

Inch by Inch Measurement


  • Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni
  • linking chains (other nonstandard measuring manipulative)
  • I skip the teacher store and buy these inexpensive linking chains in the baby section of Walmart.


  • model for the children how to measure with the linking chain
  • the children can measure the birds in Inch by Inch
  • I challenge the children to measure their own body parts:
    • How tall am I?
    • How long is my arm?
    • How long is my leg?
    • How long is my foot? Who has the biggest foot?
    • How big around is my waist?

Zoo Thematic Unit

Counting at the Zoo


  • Counting at the Zoo by Kathleen Fishcher
  • tray
  • counting manipulative (I used inexpensive art puffs)


  • children count the animals on each page
  • children match the correct number of counting manipulatives

Zoo Animals Thematic Unit

Math Sorting Zoo Animals


  • plastic zoo animals
  • large muffin tin or bowls

Sorting Activity:

  • I invite the children to sort the animals
  • I allow the children to select the sorting attribute
  • children may sort the animals by like kind, size or color
  • I can challenge the children by asking, “Can you think of a different way to sort the animals?”

Zoo Animals Thematic Unit

Math Sorting by Size


  • plastic zoo animals
  • large, medium and small bowls
  • sentence strip and marker


  • this simple sorting activity focuses on both math vocabulary and the concept of size
  • one at a time I write the words Big,Medium and Little on sentence strips or index cards
  • I always write with the children rather than preparing the words before class
  • After writing the word Big I ask the children, “Can someone find the big bowl?”
  • bowl by bowl, word by word, I let the children add the words Big, Medium and Little

Zoo Animals Thematic Unit

  • during center time the children sort the animals by Big, Medium and Little

Zoo Animals Thematic Unit

Build a Zoo Block Center


  • plastic zoo animals
  • wooden blocks
  • recycle items such as cardboard tubes, cylinders and boxes


  • I often play in the block center with the children, interacting and building with them.
  • I like to include thematic books in the block center to spark the children’s creativity.

Zoo Theme Planning Outline: FREE printable

Remember to check out last week’s post for a complete Zoo Animal Thematic Unit with literacy and math activities.

Print this FREE Zoo thematic plan: Zoo Animal Thematic Unit

Print this FREE: Thematic Planning Outline

Life with Joyce

We’re GIVING AWAY one copy of  Lion’s Lunch by Fiona Tierney.

To enter this contest, just answer the following question in the comments section of this post.

Wow, It’s already Back to School Time. What are you doing to get ready? Have you already started school? (Or just say “Hey.” We’re flexible around here.)

The Rules:

One entry per person, please.

No entries after 8:00 pm Central Time, Thursday, August 23, 2012

The winner must be a resident of The United States.

The winner will be selected at random and announced Friday, August 24, 2012. Check back to claim your prize. It might be you!

Sharing this week at:

Hip Homeschool Moms




{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tara H August 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm

We started school today. We had a great day! I’ve got 4 schooling and a 3 year old. My 5 year old loved his first day of kindergarten! And my 1st grader, who I had trouble with last year getting him to focus on sounds and blends and such, did really well too. The best part of the day was the shrinky dinks that I bought at Walmart last week. I pulled them out today as a “first day” surprise and the boys loved them.

Tiffany August 21, 2012 at 8:44 am

The children do not start school until Sept 4th up here! I have bought all school supplies but need to do some clothes shopping. We are a little low on presentable clothes since we homeschooled before now.

Jeannine August 21, 2012 at 9:42 am

Tara, I really like AlphaPhonics for an easy, organized approached to teaching phonics. You buy one teacher’s manual and you can use it for all of your children. You don’t have to repurchase the program for each child. It is a great addition to a balanced reading program.

Tiffany, Yeah for starting school in September! Good luck clothes shopping. One of the best things about homeschooling is the kids can wear “whatever” they want!

Ellie August 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

We do part-time preschool with one of our kids, but it’s all pretty laid-back. No special preparations are needed except reorganizing our calendar a tiny bit. But it’s a fun time of year because we are going to get to meet some new friends (both parents and kids) who will be joining the program. We don’t start until 2nd week in September, so we have a bit of time to laze around yet!

Gidget August 21, 2012 at 9:56 pm

We school year round, so there wasn’t a whole lot of change. But, this year I did get a new planner, so I’ve been loving that! With a new high schooler, it sure is helping me to feel organized :-)

Brandy August 22, 2012 at 10:39 am

We homeschool and are in week three of school. To get ready for this school year, I started using a meal planner. I know that isn’t school related, but knowing that I have a plan for dinner really makes our school days go so much better.

Pamela Spann August 11, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I have been doing some rearranging in my room to have a better place to work with small groups. I have also been going through files and throwing out lots of stuff that I have not used in years. School start Aug. 26

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