Do you know about the Zoo Tots program at the Greenville Zoo? Zoo Tots is a great way to liven up your preschooler’s weekend. With storytime, plenty of sensory play, and a meeting with a zoo animal, Zoo Tots is sure to have something that your child will enjoy! Kidding Around’s India and her 3-year old went to a recent Zoo Tots and a good time was had by all! Read on to find out about the Zoo Tots program and how you can sign-up!
Special thanks to the Greenville Zoo for providing admission to this program.
We’ve been members of the Greenville Zoo on and off for the better part of 7 years. However, it was just last weekend that my family tried out one of their education programs. We have been missing out! We’re always looking for new experiences, especially outdoor ones, and Zoo Tots hit the mark.
Want to know more about the Greenville Zoo? Here’s our guide to the Greenville Zoo with all the information you need to plan a fabulous zoo day.
What is Zoo Tots?
Zoo Tots is one of several educational programs offered at the Greenville Zoo. It is designed for children between the ages of 2-4. The class lasts about 45 minutes to an hour. During the class, students will get to play freely at several different sensory play stations, hear a story, and meet one of the zoo’s animals up close.
This year’s Zoo Tots classes are centered around the theme of world travel.
The Zoo Tots Experience
When we went to Zoo Tots, the kids had some free-play time at various sensory stations. Then, the kids gathered around and heard a story. Knowing her audience and their need to move, the teacher paused the story to ask kids different questions and let them get their wiggles out. This definitely helps keep them engaged.
During our visit, kids listened to the story of The Three Little Pigs. This is a story involving some predatory behavior by a wolf. The story allowed the teacher to segue into a chat about pig predators. Like many animals, pigs are afraid of snakes! They magically move without legs and have been known to bite, after all! This is when the kids (and caregivers) got to meet Saul the Ball Python. Everyone got to take a turn looking at and petting Saul.
After a little more free play, we all got together to walk down to the farm area and meet Bill and Ted, the zoo’s Kunekune pigs. (Fun fact: Pua, Moana’s pig sidekick, is an animated version of a Kunekune pig.) Then, our group thanked the teacher and got to explore the zoo on our own.
While we usually spend about an hour at the zoo, we ended up spending a very full two hours playing and exploring in a way that was new to us. My daughter enjoyed being around other kids and getting to roll up her sleeves with this new experience. I really enjoyed that we both got to experience a place we knew but in a different way. Plus, this program was all about educational play! In the short span of an hour, the kids were exposed to different colors, textures, ways to play, use their brains, and explore.
The 2022-2023 Zoo Tots programs are following a Globetrotters theme, following animals around the world.
Greenville Zoo Education Program Mission
While we had a great time just playing, Morgan Laskowski, the Greenville Zoo’s Education Programs Coordinator, suggested that this and other education programs at the zoo keep in mind a larger mission of encouraging conservation, sustainability, and education. Zoo Tots might be the first zoo encounter for some kids and, as Morgan explained, seeing kids’ relationships with the zoo, with animals, and with the environment change over time can be really rewarding for teachers, parents, and students alike. “I look forward to developing relationships with families as they start to join in our programming. We see kids come to our programs for years. It’s really rewarding to see how their interests and understanding develop over time!”
Who is Zoo Tots for?
Zoo Tots is designed for kids between the ages of 2-4. Morgan explains that Zoo Tots is fun for any kid, whether they’ve developed a love for animals or not. “This is not necessarily for ‘animal people.’ It’s just good plain play!”
Where is Zoo Tots?
When you get to the zoo, one of the zoo educators meets you and your other classmates at the entrance to the zoo. After your class is assembled, you’ll walk over to the area where the class is being held. Due to the setup for Boo in the Zoo, our program was held in the picnic area near the concession stand. However, usually the program is held in the picnic area near the Education Center and next to the Griffon Vulture enclosure. Whenever possible, Zoo Tots classes are held outside. When needed, the zoo staff will set up fans or heaters.
When is Zoo Tots?
Zoo Tots is offered the first Friday and Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. The following classes are on the Zoo Tots schedule for the remainder of 2022 and first half of 2023:
- October 7th & 8th – Snaking Through South America: Kids will learn about snakes in South America!
- November 4th & 5th – Moseying Through the Mountains: Kids will learn about various animals that live in the mountains, meet a few mountain animals, complete a craft, and move like a mountain goat.
- December 2nd & 3rd – Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland: Kids will have the opportunity to learn about and celebrate different animals during the winter months.
- January 6th & 7th – Trekking Through the Tundra: Kids will learn how animals stay warm during cold months, play games, and have fun with crafts.
- February 27th & 28th – Dancing Through the Desert: Kids will have the opportunity to learn all about animals that live in the desert.
- March 3rd & 4th – Jumping Through the Jungle: Kids will learn about wild jungle animals.
- April 7th & 8th – Ambling Around Africa: This class is all about African animals such as giraffes, lions, gorillas, snakes, and parrots.
- May 5th & 6th – Bopping Around the Backyard: To round out Zoo Tots this season, kids will learn about animals we might find in our own backyards.
How to Register
Families can register for Zoo Tots by calling the zoo’s Education Department at 864.467.4850. The cost of this program is $10 for zoo members and $22 for non-members. The cost includes the class, as well as zoo admission for one child and one adult caregiver.
Other Zoo Education Programs
Do you have other kids in your life who might want some hands-on learning experiences at the zoo? The zoo also offers a Saturday Safari class for kids aged 4-6. This is a 1.5-hour long drop-off class from 10 – 11:30 am on one Saturday each month. Saturday Safari students discover the fascinating world of animals with a themed lesson with crafts, experiments, trips into the zoo, and animal encounters in the classroom.
Zookeeping Kids is for kids in 3rd-5th grades and is a 2-hour drop-off class held one Saturday each month. In this class, students experience what it is like to work at the zoo through games, activities, experiments, chats with zookeepers, and up-close animal encounters