Have you ever spent hours on lesson preparation?

Billboard announcing the great rift valley view point

A teacher asked me for a picture of a zoo after she had wasted hours of lesson preparation time looking for one online. She wanted to do an activity which would work on people, prepositions, and revise animals, with pupils placing toy people around the zoo. I prefer safari parks to zoos, since the animals have more space, and sometimes are in the wild, so here’s an idea for that.

Have you spent hours on lesson preparation?

Rather than use up your evening searching the internet, do something fun with your free time instead! You don’t need the perfect, ready-made prop to satisfy your students. Children are always ready to use their imaginations, and they can transform a pencil into a magic wand in an instant.

How to make a safari park

Here are some ideas on creating a zoo or safari park, even if you can’t draw.

Make the park in the classroom from pieces of paper. Each piece of paper is an enclosure. Kids draw fences around the edge of the paper and stick an animal picture or toy in the middle. There are lots of cool animal pictures in my downloadable flashcards pack, and the small-sized ones would be perfect for this activity.

photos of a cocker, a bear, a chicken and some elephants

Have kids decorate the enclosures by colouring them, drawing trees or sticking on pictures from magazines. Spread those about and they are the safari park. Kids can then “put the small yellow person near the elephants”.

If you have a space in the classroom this could become a class project or craft activity. Use artist’s paper and start by drawing the entrance. Kids stick animal pictures on the paper, draw circles for the enclosures and add paths between them. Add a kiosk to buy drinks (you can draw a rectangle, colour it in and stick a coca-cola bottle on it cut out from a magazine (homework for the kids).

The zoo / safari park art project could evolve over one lesson or several. “Fabrice please draw a tree in the lion park.” If your zoo doesn’t look like the annoyingly brilliant ones from Blue Peter don’t worry, the kids enjoy this sort of thing and it’ll be their creation.

Have some children be the animals and put them around the classroom, standing next to their enclosure if you have stuck those on the walls. These kids mime being the animal. Give instructions to other pupils such as « Jaime go over to the elephant/s ». They could feed them, or move them from one enclosure to another. They could have a small conversation such as “I’m hungry” and the feeder says, “Here are some bananas”. Make sure it’s safe to feed them first!

Let me know what you think. There’s nearly always a way to invent what you need from very little rather than spending your free evening looking for it.

Feel free to ask me for ideas ! To see all my teaching resources please visit this page: Shelley Ann Vernon’s teaching resources.

All the best Shelley Ann Vernon Teaching English Games

1 thought on “Have you ever spent hours on lesson preparation?”

  1. Shelley Vernon

    I have to say that I do prefer Safari parks as the animals have more space. That said some zoos do important conservation work, saving rare breeds and re-introducing animals into the wild. There is one advantage to being an animal in a zoo too – you don’t get eaten!

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