Facebook Instagram Pinterest TeachersPayTeachers BlogLovin Home Image Map

March 15, 2012

Good Night, Gorilla and Other Zany Zoo Ideas

Who doesn't love Good Night, Gorilla?! It's got to be one of my all-time FAVORITE books!  Each page is full of language-rich, engaging artwork that appeals to kids of every age and tells a delightful story using very few words.  It's the perfect book to use for building language skills at any level, making it the first book I'll go to now that we've started our zoo theme at Small Talk.

The colorful keys and cages in the book inspired me to make a little book to use with my preschoolers:

Each page of this 6-page book has an animal hiding behind a cage door that opens and closes, and a key that turns to "unlock" it.  How fun is that?

After opening all six doors and talking about the animals hiding inside their cages, we say "good night" to each one and lock them up again!  The preschoolers love to turn those keys, and the repetitive text makes it easy for them to "read" the story again and again.  You can download a copy to use with your kids here.  You'll need to print two copies of the cage doors, and one copy of the animal pages.  Cut the cage doors with room to spare for gluing on the left edge.  The keys are on a separate document; download them here.  I used a hole punch to make holes in the keys and on each page, roughly a half an inch from the right edge of the paper, and fastened the keys to the pages using brass fasteners.  Some of the kids helped with the assembly of their own books, which was an even better way to expand language.

Another activity I'd like to share is my Zoo Animal Box.  I bought a plain brown box from Michael's and decorated it with zoo animal stickers.  I filled the box with small plastic animals and made some question cards to go along with them.  The cards are pictured below, and ask questions about features.  The kids match the animals to a card that best describes them.  With some of my kids, we were able to group two or more animals with a similar feature, such as "pointy ears" or "sharp teeth", and talk about

which animal had "the most" spots, or "the longest" tail.  In some cases after the child was familiar with the animals and the question pattern, we reversed roles and the child asked me questions.  This was a great way to work on formulating questions and using descriptors.

I made a second set of card to use for comparatives and superlatives and a few blank cards for you to be creative with.  You can download both sets of cards here.  All in all, this was an easy activity to pull together and one that is easy to adapt to address a variety of skills.

I hope you enjoy these activities.  I'm sure I'll have more to add as The Small Talk Zoo just opened for business and I usually keep it around for awhile!  If you download any of my materials, please leave a comment to let me know how you plan to use them.

Nice chatting with you!



  1. Hi, I'm a speech pathologist working with preschoolers. I've been using this book for quite a few years, but I'm always interested in new activities. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. I work with Pre-K students...we are getting ready to do a lesson on G for gorilla. I believe that our students will enjoy this activity, especially when being used in conjunction with the book. Goodnight Gorilla. Thank you

  3. I am a speech pathologist working with children with hearing loss. They are doing this story in their preschool class and your printable books will be an excellent source for our therapy sessions. We are working on answering who and where questions, so this will be great!

  4. I am a SLP-A working with preschoolers and our theme this month is Zoo, so I wanted to use this story and incorporate it into my language lesson and therapy. Thanks!

  5. I have a little girl who is now reading the book. I am sure she will enjoy these actives as I do.Thanks a lot!

  6. Thank you for the materials, they will help with my student!

  7. Thank you for sharing the materials. they are wonderful!

  8. I love the descriptive concepts for the cages!

  9. physicians.blogfa
    Would-be medical exec from Iran barred from Canada over alleged ties to Tehran's nuclear program. Ramin Fallah was labeled a security threat because he ...

  10. Hello, I am a kindergarten teacher.I want to use it in class with my children, is it possible? Thanks a lot.