Zoo Lesson Plan

Please note, this lesson plan was created by as a general guide and is not specific to any particular venue listed on our site.


The giraffe’s tongue is black to prevent sunburn while eating in the hot sun. Their spots, which are as unique as humans fingerprints, are designed for camouflage. And they need less sleep than any other mammal, using the time instead to browse for food.

When you go to the zoo, be on the lookout for the clever ways animals adapted to their surroundings and developed traits that help them survive.

Students act like scientists to observe animal life while focusing on the diets and eating habits.

Students will observe animals and note their habitats and diets.
Students will understand the connection between diet and habitat.

• K-W-L Chart of Diets and Eating Habits.

• Pencil and clipboard


Habitat                 Carnivore                      Herbivore                     Omnivore

Hook: How do you get your food? (Student answers may include the store, my family, a restaurant). How would your eating habits change if you didn’t have a microwave? Would it change if you had to grow and prepare all your own food? Why? (Discuss that what we eat depends on our surroundings and abilities, just like animals).

Step 1: Explain to students that we will be observing animals in their habitats to discover what diets and eating habits they have and why.

Step 2: Create a K-W-L chart to assess prior knowledge. Have students list examples of eating habits of animals they already know in the “Know” column.

Step 3: Have students observe 5-10 animals. On paper, they will note the animal name, describe the habitat and the diet, and include any notes on eating habits. **You may want to assign students 5 animals to observe or allow them to choose before they visit the aquarium.

Step 4: With younger students, you may need to model how to observe exhibits in the aquarium. Look carefully and slowly at all parts of the exhibit – animals, plants, rocks, sand. Notice the colors, textures, and amount of organisms in the exhibit, as well as what they are doing. Read the informational signs around the exhibit. Ask questions and make hypotheses. Focus on one animal and take descriptive notes.

Step 5: Allow students to move around the zoo, observing and making notes.

Step 6: After viewing the exhibits, ask students to share their findings. What animals did they learn about? Where do these animals live, what do they eat, and what habits do they have? Add these to the “Learn” column of the K-W-L chart.

Step 7: Discuss the following questions:

– How are an animal’s diets related to their habitats?
– How are an animal’s diets related to their eating habits?
– Compare and contrast two animals’ diets and habitats. What do you notice?
– Some animals have special traits that make finding food easier. Did you see any examples?

1. Students view the interactive lesson about carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.

2. Students create a menu for an animal they studied, including options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

3. A great lesson about animal instincts vs. learned behavior: