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!


Julie June 5, 2008 at 5:07 pm

What a fabulous idea! BTW, I linked to one of your ideas today in my post:

Julie K in Taiwan June 5, 2008 at 7:26 pm

I love this idea! We’ll try it this weekend. Thanks so much for sharing.

Melissa June 10, 2008 at 2:58 pm

absolutely LOVE this idea! love the blog…

Julie June 17, 2008 at 6:08 pm

I just did this with my two boys and they really enjoyed. My oldest drew all sorts of animals and my youngest used stickers for all of the animals. Both were different from each other, but they both included a train which is their favorite part of our local zoo. Thanks for the great idea!!

Elizabeth June 18, 2008 at 6:21 am

found you via crafty crow. love this!

Amy June 18, 2008 at 8:28 am

We are totally doing this- thank you for the excellent idea!

Amy June 18, 2008 at 8:29 am

We are totally doing this- thank you for the excellent idea!

Alex June 19, 2008 at 6:15 am

Great idea! Thank you for posting about it.
I did a little post about it too, and I’ll do a second one with pics of our maps when they are completed.
here is a link for you:
Thanks again!

Angie @ Many Little Blessings June 23, 2008 at 11:11 am

What a fabulous idea! We’ll definitely have to try this out. We have drawn our own pirate treasure maps before, but this sounds great!

PsychMamma June 26, 2008 at 5:26 am

How creative! I love this idea and can’t wait to try it with my 2 y/o. Taking it to the next level with our Schleich plastic animals and FP little people would be a great next step.

Momma Snail November 18, 2009 at 2:07 pm

These are prized possessions in our house! I even have to laminate them! Now I know a great activity we can do. Thanks! You are a genius!

dana January 7, 2010 at 4:22 am

i LOVE this idea! i definitely want to try this soon!

Christie January 7, 2010 at 5:44 am

Why not hide afternoon tea somewhere in the house or garden and draw a map that takes the girls on a tour all around the home before they find the hidden treasure. The children I taught, always loved treasure hunts with maps!

Maxine January 7, 2010 at 7:15 am

What a great idea! We’re snowed in yet again and I’ve been wondering what to do with my restless boys. They’ll love this!

branflakes January 7, 2010 at 11:26 am

I was planning on doing a map them in a couple weeks, but hadn’t even thought about using things like zoo (or other places) maps. What a great idea! Thank you.

Vanessa January 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm

yeah! as a working geographer (a real life map maker) you have no idea how happy this post makes me!
if you want to check out a few online resources for more map/geography fun head on over to these sites…

Kristina January 7, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Maybe you could also have them do a map of their neighborhood? Or maybe of a town with all the fun places they like to visit?

Alicia January 7, 2010 at 8:00 pm

My brother and I always fought like cats and dogs, but I remember one thing we did together. We used to draw maps like this! Then shhhhhhhh, this part’s embarrassing, we’d hold hands, close our eyes and pretend we could jump inside the pictures! lol

Kristin January 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm

That is so fun! Thanks for sharing the idea. You have such interesting things to do.

Marie {Make and Takes} January 8, 2010 at 7:21 am

Oh, we will be making these soon! How fun!

Tara April 4, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I would love to include this idea in the June edition of The Bookworm’s Bookbag, a monthly e-magazine featuring the best preschool activities around the blogosphere. If you agree to allow us to publish this idea, we will also publish your name, bio, and bloglink.

Thanks for your consideration.

Tara Rison, Founder and Owner
The Itty-Bitty Bookworm

Zoe @ Playing by the book May 30, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Have linked here with my latest post about Zoos!
Thanks for the inspiration :-)

Caddy Shap July 10, 2010 at 7:51 am

What an amazing mom you are! I just found your blog (I don’t even remember how!) and LOVE all of your creative and simple ideas. You are an inspiration, and it’s obvious that you love your children and want happy, learning experiences for them. What a breath of fresh air… thank you so much!

Gianne July 23, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I loved this idea so very much I did this with my two girls. I thought you might get a kick out of your copy-cat:

Thanks for the adorable and fun idea!

amy February 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

oops i mean to say that i found you through the crafty crow site. :) thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas.

threyambika May 31, 2011 at 1:12 am

amy u have got a wonderful creativity mind . today i and my friends r going 2 try this idea . thank u amy

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