Looking for an end of day experience at the Zoo?
Download this printable itinerary (PDF) to find insider tips for enjoying the Zoo near closing time, at 5 p.m.
Play-Based Itineraries for Children
Denver Zoo and The Goddard School for Early Childhood Development have partnered to create visit itineraries that encourage learning through play. With these itineraries, families with children ages one to six-years-old can explore the zoo through a new lens, discovering play-based activities in 6 different areas of the zoo.
One activity map featuring two different areas is available for pickup at special locations at the zoo or you can download individual maps here:
Predator Ridge Activity Map
Toyota Elephant Passage Activity Map
Northern Shores Activity Map
Tropical Discovery Activity Map
Bird World Activity Map
Primate Panorama Activity Map
Young children learn about and experience the world through play. It’s how they make connections that are relevant, engage their bodies, senses and minds, and begin to form their own understanding of the world around them. By encouraging your child to explore nature through play, you’re providing them with a fun and age appropriate way to learn.
NEW! From August 7 - November 1
Special for our traveling exhibit “Nature Connects®, Art with LEGO® Bricks,” brought to you by The Goddard Schools!
LEGO Bricks Activity Map
Guests can use this map to find the LEGO sculptures located throughout Zoo, as well as help your child learn the basics of what plants and animals need from their environment. Each activity will challenge kids to use their cognitive, motor & sensory skills while they learn about hummingbirds, polar bears, snow leopards and more. Each sculpture will also be accompanied by a sign with additional information about that plant or animal. Have fun!
Learning through Play Goes a Long Way at Denver Zoo
In addition to the play-based activities that these itineraries provide, we suggest creating your own learning-through-play experience at the zoo, on vacation, or in your own backyard, by implementing some of the following tips:
Encourage your child to engage all of their senses. Beyond what they see, what do they hear and smell? What can they touch? Are there new tastes they can experience?
Get active! Watch the animals and notice what they are doing. Talk about why they are doing it, but go one step beyond and pretend like you are the animals, too! Roar like lions, waddle like penguins and swing like monkeys!
Notice the details. Plan to go on a scavenger hunt to find different shapes in animals’ patterns or leaves of trees. Look for all the colors of the rainbow on animals, flowers and plants.
Make math fun. Count the birds you see, or create a simple graph by using stickers to track different features, like number of legs, animals that have tails, or mammals vs. reptiles.
Relate what your child sees to their own experiences. Does the pack of dogs play like they do? Is there an animal family that reminds you of your own? Do the animals they are seeing eat the same foods they do? Sleep the same way? Live in a home? Have legs, feet, eyes and ears?
Look for opportunities to experience different cultures, and compare them to your own. At the zoo, can you find art or exhibit elements that depict faraway places and different peoples? How are they like or unlike the town where you live and the people in your neighborhood?
Engage the imagination. Encourage kids to create stories about the animals they see, or think of what they would name them. Bring along paper and crayons and sit in a shady spot while your child draws a picture of something that catches his eye.
By making your visit about more than just viewing, you’ll be creating special memories and contributing to your child’s development. Come back and experience different areas of the zoo each time, through an exciting new lens!