Another blogger mom came up with this great idea to make passports for her kids’ trip to the zoo. She was inspired by the San Diego Zoo’s similar product and simply modified it for the zoo she was visiting. Her activity was much more detailed than mine; it included purses for her daughters, with wallets complete with faux money, and printed maps of the zoo for the girls to peruse as they decided which animals to stamp on their passports next.
When we went to the zoo on Sunday, I printed her design (I highly recommend printing double-sided if you can…makes it much cleaner and easier to figure out how to fold) and stapled it together. Then I grabbed a sheet of stickers (I happened to have stars) and threw them in the car. When we got to the zoo, Little Miss wanted to know what the stickers were for, so I explained it:
As we went through the zoo, we’d see animals that were in her special zoo book. Every time she identified an animal and matched it to the picture in her book, she got a star sticker to put on a printed star next to the animal’s picture. She loved this idea, and actually, I did, too. At first I thought it was pretty pointless because she’s already really good at identifying animals, and all she got when she did it was a simple sticker. But, in hindsight, our trip through the zoo was virtually painless for once. (Well, aside from Miss Bennett getting overtired and cold and throwing a screaming fit for about five minutes before conking out in the Ergo against Husband’s chest.) Usually Little Miss requests to see animals that are on completely opposite sides of the zoo. So we spend the first half hour of the trip hiking across the 64-acre zoo to find the lions, then she would of course want to see the sea lions back near the middle of the zoo, etc. Though we often distracted her with whatever animals were near us at the time, she never does quite let go of whatever animal she’s on a mission to see in that particular moment.
This time, however, we simply walked through the zoo, and at each exhibit we’d ask Little Miss what she thought she’d see. Once she figured out what was there, she’d look through her book to see if the animal was in the book so she could get a sticker. In other words, instead of traipsing from specific area to specific area of the zoo, this time we were able to simple walk straight through with no agenda, simply noting what we did see…and putting star stickers in her little book. It was amazing! She was well-behaved, excited, happy to see the animals, and loved getting stickers. The only down side was that, as is typical for this time year here, it was sprinkling the entire time we were there, so her passport got a bit soggy. Not that she cared.
All in all, I think this zoo passport idea is fantastic. I’d like to use their design and create my own based on the animals our local zoo has (the passport I printed had a T-Rex in it – what?!) so she can get even more stickers. And perhaps I’ll think of some kind of “traveler” pack to put together like the other mom did, with a bag, a map, money, etc. Perhaps we’ll go on a “voyage” and she can use her $5 from Christmas to buy something in the zoo gift shop, as well.
What kid doesn’t want to go on an adventure? Certainly not my Little Miss, who frequently claims she’s taking the bus to “the African Banana.”