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The BIG Zoo Lesson Resources

Browse below for information, lessons, tips, and helpful resources as you plan your class's BIG Zoo Lesson experience.


This is a comprehensive list of the animals available to be observed at the Zoo, as well as comments from Zoo staff.

Here is a list of current program offerings - expert lessons to select, programs everyone gets, and hands-on materials available for teacher-led lessons.

Sections in this document include a welcome and overview of the Zoo, basics of the Education Building, your team at the Zoo, additional experiences available at the Zoo, and a Teacher Checklist for Friday.

An overview of what makes The BIG Lesson what it is: ongoing, sustained professional development for teachers, teacher-led and student-centered lessons, extended time on site, parental involvement, and implementation of yearlong themes.

Here's a helpful guide for getting the most out of your BIG Lesson experience...starting today!

Tips, guiding questions, and activities to help students make scientific discoveries and observations by creating detailed sketches, notes, and including important information in their journals.

Get your students on their feet with these brain-on, movement-based activities.

This multi-page document includes pictures, artifacts, and helpful information for teacher-led lessons about penguins.

This text-only document details even more information about penguins including the role of penguins in the food chain, how penguin camouflage works, adaptations that help penguins survive in the water, adaptations that help penguins keep warm, exhibit design features that help penguins keep warm in cold weather or cool in hot weather, the roles of male and female in rearing young, and why coins in the pool are dangerous to penguins.

This document outlines mask policy, social distancing, attendance, and cleaning protocols in place at the Zoo to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

This helpful handout includes information, diagrams, and photographs about antlers, horns and tusks. In this teacher-led lesson, zoo staff will select items from the biofacts collection which students can gently touch.

Zoo staff will select about eight different types of bird feet for students to explore in this teacher-led lesson. The information here includes photographs, information, and diagrams for background information.

Zoo staff will select about eight bird skulls from the biofact collection for students to explore in this teacher-led lesson. Use this for diagrams, photographs, and background information for teacher use.

This information sheet prepares teachers to lead lessons about mammal skulls, identifying carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores based on teeth, eye placement, and the size of nasal passage. Zoo staff will provide artifacts for this lesson.

Notes for teaching about animal pelts (and coverings, like sea turtles and snakes). Lesson focuses on adaptations for camouflage and warmth.

This packet assists students in taking notes during the teacher-led lesson on animal skulls.

These description may be used by adults as a reference guide while working with the students at the display tables.  Not all of these species will necessarily be used for each class.

This table helps students take notes during the teacher-led lessons on bird beaks and bird feet. Click here for the answer key to this chart.

Here is a guide for facilitating substantive reflection - including strategies for laying a foundation, learning deep content, substantive conversations, connections between the content and the world outside the classroom, and problem-solving.

The above is a list of the Reptile and Small Mammal Building; here is the same information in map-form.