Why Petting Zoos are great for Toddlers
Toddlers are very interested in new things and these “mini-zoos” or farms allow them to see animals up close, feed the animals and maybe ride a few.
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Teach Your 2 Year Old Empathy & Kindness
Toddlers can be taught how to be gentle to animals. Showing them how to gently stroke an animal and feed them at the zoo will help with pets and other animals they encounter in their lives.
A great book to read beforehand is Tails are not for Pulling – a book focused on pets and being gentle, but can be easily reinforced at the petting zoo.
Help Your Toddler Improve Their Verbal Skills
Zoos are also a great way to expose your toddler to new words – such as hooves, antlers, beak, tail, fur, etc.
Not to mention all the new animals they will see.
Try not to rush through the zoo and take advantage of the day and explain;
- What the animal is called – ex. This is a goat
- What they like to eat – goats like to eat plants like grass, but can be silly and will eat cans and clothes if you let them!
- Describe physical features and let them touch them: this is the goats horns, they have little beards and fur, etc.
Below is a “Petting Zoo Cheat Sheet” that provides some fun facts about some animals typically found at the petting zoo.
What to Pack for a Petting Zoo
- Cash – sometimes they have extras like pony rides for cash-only
- Hand sanitizers and wipes
- Snacks for after, you don’t want snacks to accidentally be given to the animals
Leave the stroller in the car or at home – encourage your little one to walk and get close to the animals. (And tire them out before nap time)
Be careful of little hands – although most animals are well trained not to bite they may accidentally nip if your toddler sticks their hands to far inside their mouths. Teach your two year old to keep their hand flat if they are feeding things like popcorn and fingers at the bottom of carrots.
If your toddler is timid and isn’t comfortable feeding or touching the animals, don’t worry they can still enjoy the day and will enjoy watching you interact with the animals.
After the Petting Zoo
Keep the animal momentum going with some animal themed toddler activities:
Pick up an animal themed set of stamps and let your little one create their own Petting Zoo scene.
Practice all the new words your two year old learned by going through this flap book. With 100 animals you are sure to find the animals that were at your petting zoo.
Petting Zoos – A Great Place to With a Toddler
Your two year old will love going on a new adventure with you – even if they are timid with the animals, just being outside with you NEAR animals will be a new experience that will help develop so many new words.