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The Zoo is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Entry passes are required for all guests, including infants. Plan your visit.

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Early Childhood and Family Programs

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute believes that meaningful learning about animals, the natural world and conservation science can, and should, happen at every age. The Zoo's dedicated team of early childhood educators design fun, age-appropriate experiences and resources for children from birth to 8 years old and their learning partners.

Whether you are visiting the Zoo in person, joining a virtual program or looking for activities to do at home with your little animal lover, the Zoo has a variety of ways to support your child's learning and growth.

Virtual Children's Programs

Pinky and Panda-versary Graphic

Panda-Versary!

Celebrate 50 years of giant pandas at the Zoo with music, movement, and a playful conversation with giant panda keepers designed to inspire the next generation of panda scientists. Find out what a panda's fur really feels like and watch as the pandas enjoy an ice cake designed by Head Start classrooms nationwide.

This program was offered in collaboration with the National Head Start Association.

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Fiesta (left) and Fedora (right) enjoy a treat in their yard at Kids’ Farm. Fiesta stands on two pedestals, while Fedora stands in the grass.

Fun at the Farm

Zoo educators celebrated the Lunar New Year with music, movement and some amazing animal guests! Explore the "playgrounds" of the animals on the Kid's Farm and help us solve the mystery of the 2022 lunar new year animal.

This program was offered in collaboration with the National Head Start Association.

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Giant panda mother Mei Xiang (left) and her son Xiao Qi Ji (right) sit next to each other in the grass.

Stamp Stories: Giant Pandas

Join educators from the Zoo and the National Postal Museum for a virtual story time celebrating 50 years of pandas at the Zoo with photos, videos, postage stamps, and a reading of "Xander's Panda Party" by Linda Sue Park.

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Activities for Caregivers

Cover of Look Talk Play document

Look, Talk, Play!

Looking for "screen-free" options for your preschooler? Smithsonian educators paired some of their favorite objects, animals and artworks with fun activities in these five printable cards.

Download and Print
 

Sea lion standing on a rock with its blackish flippers visible

Inspiring Engineering Through Empathy: California Sea Lion

Inspire your child's early explorations of engineering and design with this curated collection of activities about California sea lions. Play sea lion dress-up, create a sea lion dinner plate, and design a sea lion shade structure to strengthen socio-emotional and academic skills.

Explore the Collection
 

Animal Webcams

Check in with lions, elephants, giant pandas and naked mole-rats. To build observation and language skills, encourage children to ask questions and describe what they see the animals doing. Downloadable bingo cards help kids learn about animal behavior and habitats.