Zoom in on Zoo Zones Worldwide!

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

The wonderful London Olympics are history; sports fans from around the world are already turning their attention to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, host-to-be of the 2016 Olympic Summer Games.

I haven’t traveled (yet) to Rio de Janeiro, but I was imagining myself in the city’s conservation-minded zoo, when the blog pic below was snapped.

Elephants are popular at zoos around the world!

Look closely. Okay, it’s only a small garden of ground cover near the entrance to a school where I recently taught, and yes, the elephant is (only) a stone sculpture but…I’m traveling to Rio’s Zoo through my imagination!

Imaginary travel is a popular and effective attentionology trick with elementary school students. It’s a great way to help kids learn about countries around the world.

Introduce each country by offering children (naturally animal-loving)  a ticket to (virtual) travel to zoos in countries that carry special meaning (don’t they all!).  For example, a city or nation may be important to you and your class because it will be in the world spotlight, like Rio will be in 2016, or because it’s featured in your Social Studies curriculum.

Put this trick to best use with an enhancement: an online resource that allows your class to zoom in LIVE on zoo zones worldwide! Visit http://www.zoos-worldwide.de/zoocams.html. Log on and invite kids to see what Barak, the platypus, is up to at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia. Zoo Cam can take you around the world!

You can also Google world zoos to discover them. Australia’s National Zoo in its capital, Canberra, is in Yarralumla at the western end of Lake Burley Griffin, next to Scrivener Dam. Australian animals, including dingoes, koalas, kangaroos, penguins and Tasmanian devils offer visitors exciting educational experiences.

Back to Rio…all aboard for the zoo – yes, you can take the subway train to Saint Kitts Station and arrive at a huge park and gardens named Quinta da Boa Vista (Portugese meaning in English: Farm with a good view). Zoo animals, including the popular giraffe,

“It has to be a sculpture; I’m as tall as the giraffe!”

like you see in another of my imaginary travel blog pics here, amble near alleys of palm trees and other native plants. Brazilian birds take flight in a special wing (no pun intended) of the Rio zoo.

Kids love trains! Take them from South America to Europe via (imaginary) air to Berlin, Germany. Leave the airport and board a German train to the Berlin Zoologischer Garten railway station (simply known as Zoo).

The Berlin Zoo has a reputation for being the most visited zoo in Europe. Dating back to 1844, this conservation center supports research in Madagascar and is home to globally known animals including the Knut (polar bears).

Every continent that is represented in all five of the Olympic rings has a world-famous zoo. We’ve already “visited” South America, Australia and Europe. Check out the Giza Zoo online, in Cairo, Egypt, Africa. Opened in 1891, its attractions include a chimpanzee in the “new” museum that opened in 1902 in Tahrir Square, near the Nile River.

In Asia, the Beijing, China Zoo, founded in 1906 during the late Qing Dynasty, offers classical Chinese gardens that are home to giant pandas, South China tigers, and Tibetan gazelles. The National Zoological Park in Delhi, India, houses nearly 130 animal and bird species including the famous Bengal tiger.

Coming to North America, you’ll catch kids’ attention at the (US) National Zoo in Washington, DC with an invitation to Boo at the Zoo. With some advance planning you can cook up this October trick in your classroom. No need to travel. Here’s the background and a plan…

At Halloween time each year, the (US) National Zoo invites children to go trick or treating throughout the zoo. They learn about the zoo’s creepiest creatures and watch heavy-footed animals do a pumpkin smash.

Create a Class Boo at the Zoo Bulletin Board – When school’s in session, tell your class (at a time that suits your schedule) that you have big plans for the end of October. You’ ll be taking a (imaginary/virtual) trip to Rock Creek National Park, home of the National Zoo in America’s capital.

  1. Read aloud, then post a printed copy of my poem (See below) on an orange paper-covered bulletin board.
  2. Tack up a black letter heading on your bulletin board: OUR CLASS BOO AT THE ZOO.
  3. Tell your class that you need them to add zoo animal drawings to illustrate my poem. Cut out the animal drawings and post them to make a frame for the poem. Optional: Also post Halloween-themed cut-outs.
  4. Challenge students to write and illustrate their own zoo animal poems to add to the bulletin board.
  5. Designate a day for your Class Boo at the Zoo celebration. ♥ Your celebration may include a virtual trip (using a Smart Board linked to a computer with Internet access) to DC’s or other world-famous zoos. ♥Invite students to present their poems aloud to the class or an audience that includes parents and/or other guests. ♥ Encourage kids to bring animal masks to wear for an “animal parade” around your classroom. You might have your masked children walk to a recording of Carnival of the Animals by French composer, Camille Saint-Saëns. ♥ Conclude your Class Boo at the Zoo celebration by serving animal-shaped cookies that you buy or bake.

At the Zoo

Where else but the zoo can a party of two

mean a lion with a cub, a joey and kangaroo?

As I walk with the animals large and small,

I study their faces; I love them all.

I see steel-eyed wolves, a soft panda bear,

spotted giraffes, noses high in the air.

The zoo fills me with wonder at nature’s way;

if animals could speak, what would they say?

Simply by being they ask us to care,

to preserve nature’s bounty everywhere!

The world has come together for the Olympic Games in London and children everywhere have been watching. Help them stay focused on our international community by offering new opportunities to learn, like zooming in on zoo zones worldwide.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings! Talk with you next Monday – Attentionlogy for K – 5 Teachers.

Look for Mid-Week Focus on Wednesday.

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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