Welcome to the Preschool Pride program at Henry Vilas Zoo! Like a lion pride that cares for a group of cubs, we are excited to spend some time with you and your little one! We have significantly reduced the price and created a three-session program so your child can feel more connected to our staff and the other children in the group. We've also shifted the focus of the progam to come more in-line with current understandings of early childhood education.
We've kept the best of our old Preschool Pride programs, but we've changed many aspects to help you enjoy an even better experience!
We lowered the price so our programs are more accessible
We bundled our program into a three-session package
We shifted our educational approach to help children learn better. Read more about our education approach below
We do not meet an animal in every session, but during the second session pre-schoolers get to meet one of our education animals up close. During the third session, children will step into the shoes of a zookeeper and pitch in with keeper chores, getting to feed or help care for an animal. This also gives children an up-close view of one of our exhibit animals.
We added fifteen minutes to our sessions and will provide a peanut-free snack
We have new toys to help engage your children as they explore the natural world
What is your educational approach for Preschool Pride?
As we've come more in-line with current research on early childhood education, we've made our programs more child-centered and play-based. That means:
We acknowledge that in early childhood, the empathy children feel for animals is best nurtured through play
Children learn the most when they have options about what activities they want to participate in
We recognize the importance of imaginary play is to young children
We encourage you to follow your child's lead and join in the child-directed play
We emphasize building on children's curiosity and listening to their questions about the nature. Sharing information in this context helps children make sense of the world and helps them feel ownership over their new discoveries
What will we do during Preschool Pride sessions?
Here is what a typical session looks like:
Children are welcomed to the class with introductions, expectations, a song and a thematic story
Free play: Children have time to explore our animal-themed toys and sensory table in the Animal Health Center, observe the primates on exhibit through the classroom window, or make an animal-themed craft project
We provide a peanut-free snack
Group exploration of the zoo: We'll explore a part of the zoo together that relates to our theme for the day. Knowledgeable zoo staff lead this tour and share the inside stories about our individual animals
Zookeeper chores: During the last session, we put on our imaginary zookeeper hats and step into a real animal enclosure to help keepers prepare the animal's home for the day
How big are your classes?
Our classes have a limit of 8 children. One adult can bring up to two siblings. We offer a discount for siblings and for zoo members.