June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month, a time to celebrate and appreciate these organizations’ conservation, education, and research work. Take advantage of this occasion by bringing the wonders of the animal world into your classroom and engaging your students with fascinating facts, videos, and virtual tours of some of the world’s best zoos and aquariums. Here are some ideas and resources to get you started.
Florida Aquarium (reviewed here) – Located in Tampa, the Florida Aquarium is home to more than 14,000 animals and plants, representing over 350 species. The aquarium strongly focuses on conservation and education, with programs and exhibits that showcase the importance of marine ecosystems and their inhabitants. The aquarium’s website has many educational resources, including lesson plans, activities, and virtual field trips covering coral reefs, sharks, and more.
- Use the aquarium’s virtual field trips to explore different habitats, such as coral reefs and wetlands, and discuss the animals that live there.
- Take advantage of free lesson plans and activities to teach your students about marine conservation and how they can help protect the ocean and its inhabitants.
- Have your students research an animal or plant from the aquarium’s collection and create a presentation or poster to share with the class. Find many ideas for creating and sharing presentations on the TeachersFirst Edge.
Shedd Aquarium (reviewed here) – Located in Chicago, this is one of the world’s largest and most visited aquariums. Its exhibits feature over 32,000 animals, including dolphins, beluga whales, sea otters, and penguins. The aquarium’s website has many educational resources, including lesson plans, activities, and virtual field trips covering animal behavior, conservation, and habitats.
- Check out their live animal cams, which allow your students to observe the animals in real-time from the comfort of your classroom. Ask your students to complete journals during their observations using one of the free science journal templates available for download from Go Science Girls.
- Visit the aquarium’s live animal cams to observe the animals and discuss their behavior and adaptations.
- Take a virtual field trip to explore different ecosystems like the Great Lakes and the Amazon and discuss the animals that live there.
- Use the lesson plans and activities to teach your students about the importance of sustainable seafood and the impact of human activities on the ocean.
Monterey Bay Aquarium (reviewed here) – This California institution is known for its innovative exhibits and research programs. It features over 35,000 animals and plants, representing more than 550 species. The aquarium’s website has a range of educational resources, including lesson plans, activities, and virtual field trips covering topics such as ocean conservation, kelp forests, and sharks.
- Explore live webcams that provide a glimpse into the lives of otters, penguins, jellyfish, and other creatures. Observe animals in real-time and discuss their behaviors and adaptations.
- Use the virtual field trips to explore different habitats like the kelp forests and the open ocean, then discuss the animals that live there.
- Use the free lesson plans and activities to teach students about ocean conservation and how they can help protect marine ecosystems.
Adelaide Zoo Pandas (reviewed here) – Adelaide Zoo in Australia is home to two giant pandas, Wang Wang and Fu Ni. The zoo’s website includes a range of resources for educators, including videos, fact sheets, and interactive activities that teach students about pandas, their habitat, and their conservation status. Watch the pandas live on their 24/7 panda cam that provides a rare glimpse into their daily lives.
- Use the website’s videos and fact sheets to teach your students about pandas, their habitat, and their conservation status.
- Share a link to the panda cam with your students, then use classroom devices to observe the pandas in real-time and discuss their behavior and adaptations.
- Have your students research an endangered species and create a poster or presentation to share with the class, highlighting the threats to their survival and efforts to protect them. Canva for Education (reviewed here) offers free templates for creating presentations, videos, and infographics with animal themes. After logging into your Canva account, search “animals” to find many ideas students can use as a starting point.
ZooBorns (reviewed here) – This resource features adorable photos and videos of baby animals from zoos and aquariums worldwide. It’s a fun and engaging way to teach your students about animal species and their life cycles.
- Use the website’s photos and videos to teach your students about animal species and their life cycles.
- Inspire creative writing by asking your students to imagine a story from a baby animal’s perspective or to write a poem about their favorite ZooBorn.
- Have your students create a virtual zoo, choosing animals they would like to include and creating descriptions or fact sheets to accompany them. Create a class book with your virtual zoo information using Book Creator (reviewed here). Include students’ drawings, videos, and audio recordings to bring your book to life.
Woodland Park Zoo (reviewed here) – This zoo in Seattle, WA, shares many resources for students and educators. Meet the Animals introduces visitors to the animals found at the zoo and shares information about their exhibits. Visit the section for educators to find activity packets and conservation ideas for the classroom.
- The zoo website features several live animal cams, allowing students to observe animals in their natural habitats. Use these webcams to spur discussions about animal behavior, adaptations, and habitats.
- Take advantage of the lesson plans and activities that align with Next Generation Science Standards and other curriculum frameworks. These resources cover many topics, from biodiversity and conservation to animal behavior and adaptation.
- Take your students on virtual field trips behind the zoo’s exhibits and take a behind-the-scenes look at animal care and management. Use these virtual field trips to teach students about animal behavior, conservation, and the role of zoos in wildlife protection.
- Use the fact sheets shared on this site to learn more about the characteristics and behaviors of the animals in their collection, and then ask students to research and create fact sheets of other animals not found on the zoo website. Search “animals” on Templates for Teachers (reviewed here) to find templates for student research projects and animal facts folders.
National Zoo and Aquarium Month is an excellent opportunity for teachers to explore the many educational resources available online and to bring the wonder of the natural world into their classrooms. These websites offer rich content that can enrich students’ learning and inspire curiosity. Teachers can use these resources to help their students understand the importance of conservation and the interconnectedness of all living things, fostering a sense of empathy and responsibility toward the world around them.
What is your favorite way to celebrate National Zoo and Aquarium Month? Share your thoughts in the comments below so we can learn together.