Ever met a preschooler who doesn’t enjoy learning about animals? Me neither! “It’s a Zoo” is an awesome counting and graphing game for preschoolers that’s sure to keep them asking questions about their favorite zoo animals, all while teaching valuable graphing skills!
This is a perfect way to encourage your preschooler to collect information and look at it. It might surprise you to find out that preschoolers are really very capable of graphing! Mathematically I’m talking about one of the primary disciplines of math; collecting and analyzing data.
Given the right guidance and the right materials (like this board game), your preschooler will become a little scientist, too. (Cause, you know, that’s what scientists do: collect and analyze data).
In addition to teaching preschoolers the basic concepts of graphing, this game also teaches counting and basic game concepts. For example, taking and executing turns.
Counting and Graphing Game for Preschoolers
I printed several copies of this game to keep on the shelves of our math center. Children can play it together or individually.
- game board printable (at the end of this post)
- game markers
- dice (labeled 0-3)
- buttons (or other small manipulative)
- heavy cardstock
- laminator and supplies
Print out the graphing game printable at the end of this post. Cut apart the graphing sheets. Laminate everything for added durability. Label a blank dice with the numbers 0-3, using 2 and 3 twice. Put buttons into a small bowl for everyone to share.
Now invite your little one to come and play!
The object of the graphing game is simple: move your game marker from start to finish, collecting as many math counters along the way as possible to add to your graph.
Students roll the dice and move their game marker the same number of spaces. The player then identifies the zoo animal on the space and adds a button to the corresponding space on his graph. Play continues until all the players reach the end of the game board.
There are two, possibly three, ways to “win” the game.
- Each player “wins” the game simply by making it to the finish.
- The player with the highest graphed animal wins the game.
- Or, there is no winner and players are commended on how well they graphed their zoo animals.
I prefer the last. My preschoolers didn’t care too much about who had the most or who was the fastest, but they were actually interested in telling stories about the animals as they added to the graph.
Tips for Teaching During Play
Even though my preschoolers play table games frequently, I noticed a few things during play.
- Some preschoolers have difficulty moving their game piece the right direction on the game board. Moving from start to finish is kind of an abstract idea, so some preschoolers may try to move their game piece backward. This doesn’t matter so much to me. If your goal as a teacher is to teach counting and graphing skills, then the direction the children move their game pieces really doesn’t matter.
- Some preschoolers have difficulty understanding that the space their game piece is on should not be counted. But that is only important if you want to teach the children how to play any board game. Rather, I am more focused on the children practicing one to one correspondence skills accurately. And if you are playing for no winner, then it really doesn’t matter. It’s all about prioritizing your teaching objectives when using a game like this.
- Because there are multiple steps in each turn, (roll, identify the number, count and move, add to graph), your preschoolers may need a lot of assistance in the order of their turn before this game can be left out at the math center.
- Use a 0-3 dice. And use a dice with numerals rather than dots. Yes, dots are best for practice in subitizing, but that along with counting and graphing is a lot of math in one game and it could discourage some students. I prefer to use a 0-3 dice because it is an excellent way to reinforce the easier numbers as well as give each player a lot of chances to roll and add to their graphs.
Get this FREE graphing game for preschoolers
Want more Zoo Activities?
I’ve paired up with the best kids bloggers to bring you a bunch more zoo activities. Your lesson planning will be a breeze this month! (And if you’re looking for graphing lesson plans you can find them here!)
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
Editable Name Puzzles // Playdough to Plato
It’s a Zoo Graphing Game // Stay at Home Educator
Zoo Themed STEM Activity // Sara J Creations
Interactive Animal Alphabet Flashcards // Science Kiddo
Zoo Sight Word Book // Still Playing School
Zoo Small World Busy Box // Play and Learn Every Day
Zoo Animals: Tracing Lines // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Letter and Number Matching Puzzles // The Simplified Classroom
Zoo Busy Box // Teach Me Mommy
Zoo Pom Pom Mats // Fairy Poppins
Invitation to Make Dear Zoo Small World // Adventures and Play
Zoo Themed Counting Clip Cards // Schooling a Monkey
Zoo Number Puzzles // The STEM Laboratory
Zoo First to 20 and First to 50 Math Game // A Dab of Glue Will Do
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.