Dear Zoo

The preschool program that I work in supports dialogic reading and, with each unit, I present a single book as a whole storybook journey. We read the same book daily for several weeks, beginning with a picture walk (labeling and discussing the things we see: objects, characters, actions), acting out the story with props, answering questions, and ending with story retell and sequencing activities. This method of repetitively presenting a book in a variety of ways elicits lots of language and supports significant growth in the area of literacy for both typically developing little ones and those with speech and language needs.

For our animals unit, we are exploring Rod Campbell's Dear Zoo. I love this book because I can target not only animal vocabulary, but introduce lots of adjectives. Too big! Too fierce! Too tall! Too jumpy! I can further emphasize adjectives as we discuss the unique containers that each animal arrives in.

We are loving this musical rendition of the story: 

I like the back and forth question and answer dialogue added to the song, "And what did you get? A what? Did you keep him?"

For a sequencing and retell activity, we are working on these story wheels:

I present them in three parts. First, I create a model that the kids use to follow along with the story during the first week of introducing the book. Next, being an interdisciplinary program, we work on labeling colors, grasp, and cutting skills as each child individualizes their set of animals. For the last activity, we glue on the animals and assemble our wheels. Then it's happy "reading" and story-sharing at home!

I made two versions; one with black and white pictures for students to color, cut, and glue, and another with color pictures already in place. You can download the pieces to make your own Dear Zoo story wheel here.


  1. Lovely work! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for inspiration!!!

  3. can i still get these wheels? they look fantastic!

  4. Can I get these wheels please? They look so much fun!