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Animal Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Written by: Kokotree

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animal activities for young children

Are you a parent looking for fun and educational activities for your young child? You’ve come to the right place! We will explore a variety of engaging animal-themed activities designed to teach toddlers and preschoolers about different animals, their habitats, and their unique characteristics. These animal activities are perfect for toddlers and provide a valuable opportunity for bonding, learning, and having a blast together. 

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Animal Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Animal activities for preschoolers and toddlers are engaging and educational experiences that teach about various animals, their habitats, and their characteristics. These animal activities often involve hands-on learning, such as crafting animal masks, exploring animal sounds, or acting out animal movements.

They can also include reading animal-themed books, going on nature walks to observe wildlife, and visiting local zoos or wildlife centers. These activities provide an opportunity for parents and children to bond while developing essential cognitive and social skills for younger kids.

1. Crafting Animal Masks

Crafting animal masks is a fun and creative way to teach children about different animals while allowing them to express their artistic side. These masks can be made from various materials such as paper plates, construction paper, or foam sheets.

Materials and Instructions:

For this activity, you will need the following materials:

  • Paper plates, construction paper, or foam sheets
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick or tape
  • Markers, crayons, or paint
  • Yarn, string, or elastic

Start by showing your child pictures of different animals and discussing their features. Next, guide your child to create a mask by cutting out the appropriate shapes for each animal’s features, such as ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and whiskers. Then, have your child color the mask and attach the string or elastic for wearing it. This activity is an excellent way for children to learn about animals’ appearances and promotes fine motor skills development.

2. Exploring Animal Sounds and Movements

Young children often learn best through play, and exploring animal sounds and movements is an excellent way to incorporate early childhood education into their playtime. This activity encourages children to use their bodies and voices to imitate various animals, helping them develop auditory and gross motor skills.


Begin by discussing various animals and the sounds they make, such as a cow’s “moo,” a cat’s “meow,” or a dog’s “bark.” Encourage your child to imitate these sounds while showing them pictures of the animal or using toy animals as visual aids. Next, teach your child how different animals move, like hopping like a rabbit, slithering like a snake, or waddling like a penguin. Encourage your child to act out these movements while making the associated animal sounds. This is a fantastic opportunity for children to learn about animals while having loads of fun!

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3. Reading Animal-Themed Books

There are countless children’s books available that feature animals as the main characters. Reading these books with your child creates a wonderful opportunity for early literacy education while teaching them about animals simultaneously. Choose a variety of books with different types of animals and habitats to help expand your child’s knowledge.

Book Suggestions:

  • “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
  • “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
  • “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney
  • “Giraffes Can’t Dance” by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
  • “If I Ran the Zoo” by Dr. Seuss

As you read with your child, ask questions about the animals and their habitats, encouraging them to think critically about the story. This activity improves early literacy skills and helps children learn about various animals and their environments.

4. Taking Nature Walks

Nature walks are an ideal way for young children to explore the world around them while learning about animals and their habitats. A simple walk around your neighborhood or local park can provide opportunities for encountering various animals, such as squirrels, birds, or even insects.

Tips for a Successful Nature Walk:

  • Before your walk, discuss different animals your child may encounter and the types of habitats they live in
  • Bring along a notebook, pencil, and a camera or smartphone for taking pictures
  • When you spot an animal, quietly discuss its features, how it behaves, and the type of habitat it prefers
  • After the walk, review what you observed, and encourage your child to draw pictures of the animals and their habitats

Regular nature walks not only provide children with the opportunity to learn about animals up close but also help them become more observant and appreciative of their surroundings.

5. Visiting Zoos and Wildlife Centers

Zoos and wildlife centers offer a unique opportunity to observe animals that your child may not see in their everyday environment. These visits help teach children about various animals, their habitats, and conservation efforts worldwide.

Maximizing Your Zoo Visit:

  • Before your trip, research the zoo’s specific exhibits to plan your visit accordingly
  • Attend any scheduled talks or feeding times to learn more about the animals and their care
  • Take advantage of any interactive exhibits or touch tanks for a hands-on learning experience
  • Discuss what your child learned during the visit and ways they can help protect these animals and their habitats

Zoo visits can be both fun and educational, providing young children with memorable experiences and a deeper understanding of the animal kingdom.

6. Using a Learning App for Toddlers

There are many learning apps for toddlers available that focus on animals, their sounds, and habitats. These apps can provide educational, interactive experiences for your child while keeping them engaged and entertained.

Examples of Learning Apps:

  • Peekaboo Barn: This app encourages young children to learn about different barnyard animals through interactive and engaging play.
  • Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn: This app, created by a trusted brand, offers animal-themed learning games and activities for toddlers, suitable for various age groups.
  • Endless Alphabet: This alphabet-themed app can help young children learn letters with animal words, promoting early literacy skills while teaching about animals.

Before downloading any app, read reviews and research its educational content to ensure it meets your child’s needs and age. Many of these apps can be adjusted to grow with your child as their skills develop, providing a fun and engaging learning experience for years to come.

7. DIY Animal Habitat Projects

Creating DIY animal habitats is a fantastic way to involve your child in hands-on learning about animals and where they live. This activity allows children to use their creativity and problem-solving skills to construct miniature versions of animal homes, providing an excellent opportunity to enhance toddler education.


Gather materials such as shoeboxes, craft sticks, construction paper, rocks, twigs, and glue. Discuss different animals’ habitats with your young child, such as a fish in a pond, a squirrel in a tree, or a bird in a nest. Then, work with your child to create the selected habitat using the collected materials. Encourage your child to think about the animal’s needs and how the habitat can be designed to accommodate those needs.

8. Educational Animal Board Games

There are numerous educational animal-themed board games perfect for introducing animals and their characteristics to young children. These games foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills while providing an engaging activity for the entire family.

Examples of Animal Board Games:

  • Wild Kratts Race Around the World: Based on the popular educational TV show, this board game encourages children to learn about different habitats while racing to collect animal creature power chips.
  • Animal Upon Animal: In this game, players take turns balancing wooden animal pieces on top of each other to create a tower, teaching children about spatial awareness and balance through engaging play.
  • The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game: A perfect introduction to board games, this colorful game teaches young children color matching and fine motor skills as they use a squirrel-shaped device to collect colored acorns.

Playing these entertaining animal-themed board games provides a great way to enjoy family time together while immersing young children in a learning environment focused on animals and their habitats.

9. Make-Your-Own Animal Puppets

Creating and playing with animal puppets is both an engaging and educational activity for young children. Puppets can be used to teach about animal characteristics, engage in imaginative play, and develop storytelling skills.


With the help of materials like old socks, felt, buttons, and fabric glue, make simple animal puppets with your child. Discuss different animals, their characteristics, and habitats during the creation process. After completing the puppets, encourage your child to use them in creative play, acting out scenarios with animal characters, or teaching others about their animal puppet’s traits and environment.

Introducing make-your-own animal puppets to your child’s playtime can provide a wonderful opportunity to expand their knowledge of animals, foster creativity, and support their early literacy skills through imaginative storytelling.

10. Sorting and Classifying Animal Toys

A simple way to supplement toddler education with engaging animal activities is sorting and classifying various animal toys. This activity introduces young children to the concept of categorizing based on similarities and differences, an essential early learning skill.


Provide your child with a collection of animal figurines, plastic animals, or pictures of animals. Help your child sort these items based on different characteristics, such as size, color, type of animal, or habitat. Encourage your child to think about the reasons behind each grouping, as well as any exceptions or unique traits that some animals might possess.

This educational activity can be easily modified to fit your child’s interest and cognitive abilities while providing an engaging opportunity to learn more about the animal kingdom.

Get Started with Animal Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

With so many fun and educational animal-themed activities to choose from, you and your young child can embark on exciting and enriching adventures together. Remember to personalize these activities according to your child’s interests, abilities, and needs for maximum enjoyment and learning opportunities. Encouraging your child to explore and learn about the animal world can positively impact their early childhood education and make lasting memories for both of you.

FAQ Section: Animal Activities for Young Children

In this section, we answer some frequently asked questions about animal activities for young children. These questions and answers can provide additional insights and ideas to ensure an engaging and educational experience for your child.

1. What is a suitable age to start these animal activities?

Many of these activities can be adapted for children as young as 18 months old. However, always consider your child’s abilities, interests, and needs when selecting an appropriate activity for their age and stage of development.

2. Are these activities suitable for children with special needs?

Yes! Most of these activities can be adapted to accommodate children with special needs, ensuring an inclusive and enjoyable learning experience. It’s essential to consider your child’s unique needs, abilities, and preferences when planning and tailoring the activities.

3. Can I use these activities in a group setting or playdate?

Absolutely! These activities can be easily adapted for playdates and group settings, allowing multiple children to engage in learning and play together. Working with other children provides opportunities for developing social and cooperation skills.

4. How often should I include these animal activities in my child’s daily routine?

You can incorporate animal activities as frequently as your child’s interest and schedule allow. Consistent exposure to these educational activities helps reinforce learning, but it’s essential to maintain a balance with other important aspects of early childhood development, such as schoolwork and physical activity.

5. How can I find age-appropriate and safe learning apps for toddlers?

Begin by researching reputable app developers and reading user reviews to determine the app’s educational content and age-appropriateness. Consider apps from trusted children’s brands or based on recommendations from educators and child development experts.

6. How can I support my child’s learning while visiting a zoo or wildlife center?

Before visiting, research the exhibits and talk with your child about the animals they might see. During the visit, engage your child in conversations about the animals’ characteristics, habitats, and behaviors. Follow up with discussions or projects after the visit to reinforce learning and retention.

7. Are there any hands-on materials that can help teach children about animals?

Yes! You can use animal figurines, flashcards, or even items from nature like leaves, twigs, and rocks to teach children about animals, their habitats, and characteristics in a hands-on manner.

8. How can I introduce different animal habitats or ecosystems to my child?

You can introduce different animal habitats through books, videos, or hands-on activities that explore various environments such as the jungle, ocean, or desert. Discuss the animals that live in each ecosystem and the adaptations that help them survive in their specific environment.

9. Can these activities be adapted for a classroom setting?

Yes! With a few modifications, these activities can be adapted for a classroom setting, providing educators with effective early childhood education strategies centered around animals and their habitats.

10. How can I create an animal-themed sensory bin for toddlers?

Create a sensory bin by placing items like sand, water beads, or shredded paper in a large container. Add animal figures, toy trees, or other natural elements, and encourage your child to explore the bin using their sense of touch, sight, and sometimes even smell.

11. How can I teach my child about animal conservation and protection?

Discuss the importance of taking care of the environment and protecting animal habitats with your child. Look for age-appropriate books or documentaries on the subject, and choose activities such as recycling or adopting an endangered animal to support conservation efforts.

12. Can I involve my child in real-world animal care, such as feeding or sheltering local wildlife?

Yes, with proper supervision and safety measures! Include your child in age-appropriate tasks such as filling bird feeders, setting up birdhouses, or creating insect hotels. This involvement can provide valuable experiential learning and a sense of responsibility toward our animal neighbors.

13. What other themes or topics can I incorporate into these activities to expand my child’s overall learning?

You can easily integrate themes such as colors, shapes, numbers, or even basic science concepts into these animal activities, promoting a well-rounded early childhood education experience that encompasses multiple learning areas.

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