Creating Zoo Maps

by Amy on January 7, 2010

Post image for Creating Zoo Maps

This is one of our all-time favorite activities!  Since we made our zoo maps, there have been maps of mermaid lagoons, five-story malls, fairy lands, and much more.  If you are stuck inside on a cold day, this is a great activity to work on with your kids.  Have fun!

{Originally posted June 2008}

Some of the most coveted “souvenirs” in our house are the maps we bring home from places we visit, especially ones from the zoo and Disneyland. My girls will look at these again and again, remembering things we saw, tracing their fingers on the little paths. I think this type of “real-world” reading (also called environmental print) is such an important part of literacy and reading development, which is why I also save children’s menus from restaurants, brochures, etc.

I thought it would be fun to learn more about maps and make our own. I decided to start with zoo maps. We have a full-color one from our local zoo, plus I printed about 5 more from various zoo websites. The National Zoo, San Diego Zoo, and Oregon Zoo had nice printable maps.


Just looking at these maps was an activity in itself! The girls loved identifying the different animals, and we also had the opportunity to talk about legends and what the different symbols mean. They really enjoyed finding all the bathrooms!

Then it was time to get to work! We used large sheets of easel paper for our maps. Natalie drew her entrance & exit first, followed by all sorts of paths. Then she filled in with her animals and other attractions. Delaney started with a bus that brings everyone to the zoo, then added her animals, and finally connected them with a path.


They worked on these for close to an hour. I added labels or words if they wanted. Natalie drew a rectangle with a P on top to show all the “potties” in her zoo. She also put in a food court, a fountain, a farm animal petting zoo, and a place called “Kids Explore,” which is some sort of fantastic kids’ play area.


Delaney’s zoo had an armadillo, an octopus, a tiger, two bunnies, a pig, and a flamingo.


Of course, the fun is not over, because now they want to use toy animals to create these fantastic zoos. I can’t wait to visit!

I’m sure we will revisit map making soon — maybe we’ll make our own Disneyland!

Happy playing!

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