You can turn the preschool classroom into a zoo with themed arts and crafts. Zoo animals often rank as the favorite for preschoolers. This makes the zoo inhabitants a fitting theme for a preschool learning unit. Art activities enhance any preschool curriculum by adding creativity while improving the fine motor skills of the preschoolers.
The kids start with basic animal shapes cut out of large pieces of poster board or card stock for this art project. Choose a color that fits the animal. For example, white works well for a zebra, while yellow is better for a giraffe. The preschoolers use sponges to add the details onto the animal. For a zebra, they sponge-paint black stripes onto the white zebra cutout. For a giraffe, they would sponge-paint spots with brown paint. Any zoo animal with a distinct pattern works for this craft. The kids can also add wiggly eyes and other facial details to finish the animals.
A three-dimensional zoo train offers another art project for the theme. Shoe boxes create the cars of the zoo train. Let each child decorate his own car for the class train. Cut rectangles out of each side to create an open feeling. Tape string or strips of paper vertically in the openings to create bars. The kids paint and add designs to the outsides of the box. Toy zoo animals go inside each train car to complete the train. The kids can also mold their own zoo animals out of clay. Place the train cars end to end for display.
A handprint creates a basic shape that can work for many different animals. The four fingers create the legs of the animal while the thumb creates the head. Each child paints his hand and fingers in a color that works with the animal. He presses his hand onto a piece of paper with his fingers pointing toward the bottom of the paper. The thumb is held out to the side as much as possible to make the neck and head. The kids add other accents to make the handprint look like a specific animal. For example, he might use additional paint to add a mane around the head to make a lion.
Zoo Animal Headbands
A zoo animal headband lets the kids pretend that they are animals. Cut a strip of construction paper long enough to fit around the child's head. Choose a color that matches the animal. For example, an elephant headband would be gray. Tape or staple the strip of paper into a headband so it fits snugly around the child's head. Cut out ears that match the animal. For an elephant, you would cut out large floppy ears from gray paper. Tape or staple the ears to either side of the headband. The kids wear the headbands to turn themselves into the animal.
- Photo Credit zoo image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com