Now that summer is here, what are you going to do with your kids that is fun, appropriate for all ages, and won’t cost an arm and a leg?

The zoo is a great family-friendly place and offers free admission (thanks, Henry Vilas Zoo!). Another great reason to go to the zoo is to incorporate various Occupational Therapy goals that your child may be working on.

The zoo can incorporate sensory experiences, gross motor activities, social skills, zones of regulation and so much more.

Here are just a few easy ways to have some fun and help your child with their goals.

Is your child working on zones of regulation?
  • Ask your therapist for a copy of Zones At The Zoo. This activity can help your child generalize their zones of regulation skills to other environments and animals as well as continue to work on identifying zones and strategies.
Are you wanting to incorporate sensory experiences?
  • Within the Children’s Zoo, there are boxes that you are able to put your hand in to feel the object, and then guess what you are touching for tactile input. You also have a chance to feed and pet the goats which can provide additional tactile input.
  • The zoo also provides natural sensory experiences through the animal sounds, various smells, different lighting from going from outdoor exhibits to the indoor exhibits, and everything that you are able to see including polar bears swimming, birds flying, monkeys swinging from tree to tree, and so much more!
Does your child need to practice their gross motor skills or get rid of excess energy?
  • The zoo has a great playground (both inside the zoo and right outside the zoo) that can incorporate various forms of climbing, running, jumping, and so much more. The playground can offer a great opportunity to practice various social skills including greeting others, asking them to play, joining in play and turn taking.
Activities of Daily Living
  • The Carousel and train rides provide a great opportunity to have your child work on waiting in line, personal space and can also incorporate money management by having them pay for the ticket to ride!

The zoo has unlimited opportunities to include various therapeutic benefits. You can incorporate many disciplines within a fun-filled trip to the zoo!

Written By:
Leah Krantz
COTA/L, Occupational Therapy