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at the Smithsonian National Zoo

November 23, 2018 Through January 1 2019  

Enjoy the winter season as you explore the National Zoo's annual winter wonderland of animal-themed light displays and musical light shows!


EXPLORE: Labeling and Categorization
ENRICH: Expressive Vocabulary

ENGAGE: Name and categorize zoo animals



  • As you walk through the zoo, talk about the different groups in which animals can be categorized: farm animals, jungle animals, ocean animals, forest animals, etc.

  • Point out animals, both live and in the lights displays. Ask your child, "What group does this animal belong to?" If your child has trouble answering, prompt him/her by asking, "Where does this animal live?"


EXPLORE: Oral Understanding
ENRICH: Comprehension of Informational Passages

ENGAGE: The ability to listen for details



  • Have your child pick an animal that they are interested in and read the plaques near that animal's enclosure. Ask your child to try and remember 2-3 details about the animal and resate that information to you in complete sentences.

  • If your child has trouble remembering specific details, ask them to listen for a certain element and re-read the plaque. For example, say, "Listen carefully and try to remember what this animal eats."


EXPLORE: How different sounds are produced
ENRICH: Understanding of how to turn voicing on and off

ENGAGE: Learn how to produce voiced-voiceless sound pairs



  • Many students with speech delays have difficulty differentiating between sounds that are voiced (are produced with vocal cord vibration) and those that are voiceless. Review this concept with your child by saying the /z/ sound and having your child put his/her hand on your throat to feel the vibration. Then say the /s/ sound and have them feel the absence of vibration. You can explain this in child-friendly terms by saying, "For some sounds, we have to turn on our speech motor."

  • As you explore the ZooLights, try to find animals whose names start with the following voiceless-voiced pairs and have your child practice saying them with the correct voicing for the initial sound.

    • /p/ - /b/ (e.g. penguin - bear)

    • /t/ - /d/ (e.g. tiger - dolphin)

    • /k/ - /g/ (e.g. kangaroo - gorilla)

    • /s/ - /z/ (e.g. snake - zebra)

h Sounds



EXPLORE: Prosody
ENRICH: Use of appropriate tone of voice

ENGAGE: Practice changing voice tone to fit a character's traits



  • Pick and animal and ask your child to name some characteristics of that animal. For example, "How do mice act? Is a mouse bossy? Shy?"

  • Once your child has picked a few characteristics to describe the animal, ask him/her to say a phrase in a voice that reflects those characteristics: "How do you think a mouse would say, 'Excuse me, can I have some cheese?"

  • Challenge your child to contrast the voice of one animal with another: "How would bear say, 'Hi, nice to meet you!' How would a giraffe say it?"

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