Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's a (sight word) Zoo In HERE!

Back story:
I bought some clip art about 6 months ago that has been sitting quietly in my Dropbox (if you don't have an account yet, you NEED one. Click HERE and sign up NOW! Free on-line storage that you can access anywhere. If you use the link we BOTH get extra FREE storage- WAHOO!).
I have really enjoyed making up sight word games for my 6th graders to use with our first grade buddies. So far we have decorated trees, made cookies, had snowball fights, and played in the leaves. All of these games have met great success.

One of my favorite places to take my kids is the zoo. For a field trip, we take our 4th, 5th, and 6th graders to the state zoo once every three years. We just went this past fall. It was super fun. My wife was even able to come as a chaperon for my daughter's 4th grade class.

Nothing beats seeing the smiles that cross children's faces as they see big and small "wild" animals for the first time. Here is a picture of my lovely wife and beautiful daughter. It was so fun to be there with both of them.

Now, the Story!
This got me to thinking about how to take something I love, some clip art that I have really, really, really wanted to use for quite some time, and make a game that would be engaging and fun for our first grade buddies.

I decided to make a zoo game. I went through about 10 revisions before I settled on the final format. I wanted something a little different from what I had already made. I also wanted to incorporate more than just sight word skills, yet do it in subtle ways.

Thus I made the game with math (simple) in mind and critical thinking. For example, students must earn 5 zoo tokens (sight word cards) before they can trade them for an animal card. I liked this part because students would be working with a friendly number of cards. They would also be practicing simple addition and subtraction skills as they added cards to their pile and then counted out and subtracted the cards to trade in. I know these are very low level math skills, but remember, I wanted the focus on reading with SUBTLE emphasis on other skills.

Students are also forced to think critically when faced with an "escaped" animal card or when choosing an animal card when they trade in their zoo tokens. They must ensure it is not already a card they have. This game also teaches social and interaction skills more so than the other games I have thus made.

Below are some snapshots of my kiddos playing it. My 3-year old son LOVED this game. We had to help with the words, but he could count out his 5 cards and trade them. He loved collecting the animals and cheered each time he earned one.

My kindergartner could read a fair amount of the sight words and those he couldn't read he had to spell. He loved to collect lots of cards and then trade them in for several animals at once. It was fun to watch him count out the cards like cash and trade them in.

I created a mat for the cards to be stored on. It worked out pretty well. I would not suggest using all 100 words for the first few games that students play. It was WAY too many cards out at once. Because the cards are recycled back in during the game, 25-50 cards would be way plenty to start out.

My 4th graders and 2nd grader were a "team" because the game is designed for four players and my 3 year-old insisted that I play too. They had a good time and had some serious discussion on strategies about when to use token cards and what animals to choose.

I was very pleased with how this turned out. I know that it will be a family favorite for months to come. I hope that you might want to adopt this zoo for your kiddos too!

Have a Zoo-ish Kind of Day!
-MrHughes :0)

Click HERE to learn more or click on the picture below.


  1. Looks like a fun game. :) I just mentioned dropbox in my blog tonight. What a small world!
    Mrs. Christy’s Leaping Loopers

  2. Very cute! I love it! You know I am an animal lover, so I REALLY love it! :)

  3. just found you on pinterest...i love this game! now following your blog...and facebook...and i'm telling my mom (a kindergarten teacher) about this!

  4. Liz-
    Thank you for find me! I am so pleased to have your join the Created by MrHughes/Educator's Life Family. Welcome!

    -MrHughes :0)


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