dear zoo activities preschool animal crafts
Arts & Crafts,  Creative Play Ideas,  Creative Stories Crafts,  Imaginative Play

Dear Zoo Activities: Hand Print Animals For Little Ones

Dear Zoo has been a favourite bedtime story in our house for years. We had a lift the flap version which was really interactive, and my kids just loved all Dear Zoo Activities.

These Dear Zoo activities for toddlers are based on zoo animal handprints. They are super simple themed activities perfect for exploring the story even more with your toddler or preschooler.

Once made, you can really capture the fun of this story with these animal crafts, matching games and sequencing activities which can all be adapted to the age of your child.

cute handprint craft for toddlers dear zoo activities toddlers paper plates

I love creating themed activities based on the interests of toddlers or preschoolers – so if you’re looking for more activities that your little one will love then check out the ‘Book of Play’ – Custom Play Ideas just for you and your little one – based entirely on what your child is interested in!

Dear Zoo Activities for Toddlers

We made zoo animal handprints from one of our favourite books ‘Dear Zoo’ and we also made a cardboard zoo box for our friends too. Now we’re going to show you how you can do the same!

I find for these kind of activities (especially if doing with younger ones) it is best to set up what you need in advance so you can dive straight into the fun part!

What You'll Need:

Paper Plates (alternatively you could use card if you don’t have any)

Paints & Brushes (or sponge)

Something to wipe hands with (or do this part near a sink)

Marker Pen

Googly Eyes (because it wouldn’t be a Mum’s Creative Cupboard make without them!)

Cardboard Box (this needs to be taller than your paper plate)

Craft Foam (you will need to be able to make strips as tall as your cardboard box – if you don’t have foam you could use wide ribbon or cardboard strips)

Dear Zoo Handprint Animals

These zoo handprint animals are so easy to do and are lots of fun to make – they also make for great keepsakes! Here’s how we made ours:


  • Painted Animal Hand Print – paint hands in the main colour of your zoo animal (you can use our photos as a guide, save the pin for later!) and press and print onto paper plates (for the snake, paint the body shape onto the plate first and then just apply paint to finger tips to make the snake’s pattern once dry)

    For some of the zoo animal handprints you could use two colours  – we did this for the monkey and the dog paws as shown above)

    Top tip – When printing onto the paper plates allow room for the extra features such as necks and tails by moving hand over to one side or printing a little further down


  • Painted Animal Features – add any main colour features at this point (it’s really important to do this straight away if you have used your own colour mix of paint else you will find yourself spending ages trying to get the same colour as we did!)

    These are the features you’ll need to add to your zoo animal handprints:


    • Camel Neck
    • Lion head
    • Giraffe Neck
    • Frog eyes
    • Monkey tail
    • Puppy tail


  • Details – Use a marker pen or some felt tip pens to draw on any details such as ears, tails, and use coloured felt tips to add any colour details such as the giraffe patches, noses, and the lion’s mane

  • Googly Eyes – Like I said it wouldn’t be a Mum’s Creative Cupboard Make without the googly eyes – this bit really brings the characters to life and makes them so much fun!

Leave your zoo animal handprints to dry whilst you make you Dear Zoo Activities Cage!

Dear Zoo Animal Crafts Cage

frog animal hand print crafts

Now let’s move onto the red cage similar to the one found on the front cover of the Dear Zoo book. This cage can be used to hold your zoo animal handprints and to talk about their descriptions too.

Cardboard Box Frame – this needs to be slightly taller than the paper plate you have used for your prints so that it can slot through the box – you will need to cut the front section out just leaving a small border around the edge – you will also need to cut two lines out down each side of the box, wide enough to slide your paper plate through (and tall enough too!)

Painting – Paint or cover your box in red paper to give it that Dear Zoo feel!

Cage bars – We used red craft foam for the bars cut into strips and taped them to the inside of the box – this is a little tricky to do so maybe use some strong glue if you’re struggling

Animal Craft Dear Zoo Activities for preschoolers

Dear Zoo animal washing line

Sequencing – These are fabulous Dear Zoo activities for preschoolers to introduce story sequencing – why not try using a child height washing line and talking through the book together and then have a go at pegging them in the order you find them in the story (alternatively you can do this without the washing line – this is just an added element of fun!)

dear zoo word games

Word recognition – Super Dear Zoo activities for preschoolers – we used some post it notes and wrote the words on and we also used the descriptive words from the story

Your child does not need to be able to read the labels or even recognise the words necessarily, it can be used as a prompt to discuss the story and talk about the different zoo animals – as always adapt the activity for your child 🙂

dear zoo animal hand print crafts cage

Fine Motor Skills Activity – Posting the paper plate into the cage and pulling out the other side is a great posting activity for little ones – this could be used as an independent play activity or you could talk about the elements of the story with each zoo animal in the cage as you go

Dear Zoo Activities for Toddlers Recap

There you have it! All you need to have a go at your own Dear Zoo Animal handprints and Zoo cage set up! Here’s the quick version:


Zoo Animal Handprints on Paper Plates – Paint hand prints on to plates and add features with paint and marker pens

Cardboard Box Zoo Cage – Cut a box with slits to allow paper plates to slide from one side to the other, paint red and add craft foam bars (or similar)

Learning through play – Use your craft for a range of activities including story sequencing, word recognition and fine motor activities

I hope you have lots of fun creating this Dear Zoo Story Activity at home!


To keep this idea for later then pin the image below to keep for reference 🙂

Louisa | Mum’s Creative Cupboard x