Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Wildlife Lessons for K-12

To schedule a Wildlife Lesson, call 253-591-5333 or email reserve@pdza.org. Please mention your preferred program date(s).

Each program includes a visit from one live animal ambassador and time for students to examine biofacts such as skulls and pelts. Programs last up to 60 minutes.

We can accommodate up to 30 students per program and up to 4 programs per day.     

Bug-o-Rama
K-1st
- What makes bugs different from other animals? Students will find out about insect body parts, watch a classmate dress up as a beetle, sing a song and meet a real bug in person.
2rd-3rd - Insects may be small, but they have a huge impact on life on Earth. Students will find out what makes a bug an insect, watch a classmate transform into a beetle and discuss how insects are helpful to people.

Busy Burrowers
K-5 - Wild animals make the best of life above and below ground. Students will unearth some of the secrets for underground survival, identify burrowing wildlife in their different habitats and discuss why sometimes it is best to burrow.

Creature Classification
1st-2nd - Fur, feathers, scales or slimy skin? Students will learn how to sort animals into groups by what covers their bodies and discuss other characteristics of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish. There will be time for touching fun biofacts like pelts, skulls and feathers.
3rd-5th - Learn the characteristics that scientists use to classify the five vertebrate groups: birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Students will participate in an activity to identify a mystery animal.

Creative Creatures: Creative Homes
1st-5th - Animals are industrious, resourceful and even artistic in their pursuit of just the right kind of shelter. Students will explore biofacts (skulls, pelts, etc.) and play a game to learn about nature's growers, builders and decorators. One student will dress up as an animal that wears its home. Students will also learn what they can do to help wildlife in their own backyard.

Creatures of the Night
K-5th - Find out how nocturnal animals use their super senses to live their lives in the dark. A bat costume and close examination of bat and owl biofacts will help students understand what it's like to live the night life.

Fabulous Food Chains
3rd-5th - Predators, prey and scavengers, oh my! Students will participate in a food chain vocabulary activity followed by hands-on animal skull observation, data collection and reporting. Finish out the program by observing a live animal visitor and identifying its role in the food chain.

Finding Out About Forests
1st-5th - Younger students will compare temperate and tropical forests and their wild inhabitants. Older students will also observe and compare forest wildlife adaptations and discuss human impacts on these valuable habitats. All students will enjoy wildlife biofacts and a visit from a live forest animal.

Investigating Invertebrates

3rd-5th - Most of the world's animals are spineless, but that doesn't mean they aren't spectacular! Students will be introduced to some of the incredible adaptations of this diverse group of animals. A hissing cockroach, giant African millipede, or tarantula will come along to help your students open their eyes to what they might otherwise find frightening.

Polar Bears and Climate Change
6th-College - These amazing predators are superbly adapted to live along the shores of the Arctic Ocean. However, rising temperatures are affecting their icy home. Students will be encouraged to make a personal change to reduce their own impacts on global warming and will have the opportunity to examine polar bear skull and claw models and a real piece of polar bear pelt.

Skull 101
6th-12th - Some animals have teeth for grinding up plants while others sport teeth adapted for grabbing and tearing up their prey. Some animals have teeth for both. Students will test their scientific observation skills as they classify and identify real skulls and skull models.

Sounds and Signals
2nd-5th - Students will discover some of the ways animals communicate and how communication is important for survival. Students will listen to real animal sounds and play a sound identification game.

Tail Talk
PreK-K - Stomp like a bison, howl like a wolf and practice a beaver tail slap! Students will enjoy watching their classmates wear fun tails as they act out communication behaviors that keep them safe in the wild.

Vanishing Species
4th-6th - Students will engage in a conversation about the causes of species endangerment and consider what they can do to help protect wildlife and their habitats. This program also includes a thought-provoking small group activity and hands-on investigation of confiscated wildlife products.

Wild for Water
K-5th - You can drink it, swim in it, bathe in it or just use it to cool off. Water makes life possible, but animals can't turn on the faucet. Through fun hands-on activities, students will soak up some of the surprising ways animals get and use water in the wild and learn what they can do to protect water for wildlife.

Wild Stories
PreK-K - Learn more about our world's amazing wildlife through storytelling and pretend play. Current themes include: Wildlife in Winter with Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, or Animal Homes with A House for a Hermit Crab by Eric Carle. Students will enjoy helping to tell the story, playing a wildlife game, touching real animal biofacts (pelts, skulls, etc.) and coming face-to-face with a live animal ambassador.
1st-5th - Older students will also participate in storytelling. The current theme is Adaptation and Conservation with The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry. Find out how diverse species depend on tropical rainforests and how humans can lessen their impacts. Students will try on different animal adaptations in a fun game where they identify each animal and their tools for life in the rainforest. This concept will be expanded during the live animal portion of this program.

Zoological Careers
1st-12th - Students will gather information about what it takes to work with wildlife at a zoo. They will get a kick out of watching one of their classmates put on zookeeper garb to illustrate the daily duties of this job. The instructor will describe the education, skills and experience needed to enter this competitive field. (No biofacts are included in this lesson.)

Zoo Crew
1st-5th - Students will discuss the four basic needs of all animals (water, food, shelter, space) as well as the more advanced needs of some animals. How do zookeepers meet all these needs so that their animals will thrive? Groups of students will test their teamwork skills as they design, build and showcase their own zoo exhibits. (No biofacts are included in this lesson.)

Zoos: Working for the World's Wildlife
6th-College - Discover how zoos and aquariums serve as sanctuaries and advocates for vulnerable, threatened and endangered species. Highlighted projects include breeding programs and education efforts both here at Point Defiance and at field locations around the globe. (No biofacts are included with this lesson.)