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Zoomazium to You: So Many Ways to Say It!

Posted by Janel Kempf and Sofia Garcia, Learning and Innovation

When you can't come to Zoomazium, Zoomazium can come to you! Plus, a bonus peacock! Photo: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Hello again, friends! And may we add, ¡Hola de nuevo, amigos!

People here in the Pacific Northwest and all around the world speak many different languages—and very few things build the brain power of early learners more than learning more than one language from the very beginning. This week’s activity helps your early learners discover fun facts about their favorite animals, and learn a few words in a different language of your choice!

Animals communicate with their voices, too. Even some you wouldn’t expect! Owls are very stealthy hunters, who rely on silence to catch their prey. But they can make sounds, and among owl species, the champions of using their voices are burrowing owls, like the zoo’s own Papú. They have more distinctly different calls than any other owl species!

Papú is a burrowing owl who lives at Woodland Park Zoo. He makes a lot of different sounds in his owl language. Photo: Susan Burchardt/Woodland Park Zoo

Burrowing owls are different from other owls in a lot of ways. They have extra-long legs, and do a lot of their hunting by running instead of flying. They’re awake and active during the day, rather than at night. And while most owls prefer to live alone (or maybe with just one mate), burrowing owls often live in larger groups—which probably gives them a lot more to talk about!

A rattlesnake "speaks" by shaking the rattle at the end of its tail! Photo: Dennis Dow/WoorlandPark Zoo

As well as calling to each other, burrowing owls can make one particular sound in another animal’s “language.” When a rattlesnake is frightened by a coyote or some other possible predator, they shake the rattle at the end of their tail. That sound warns the predator that snake is venomous, and they’d better go look for a snack elsewhere. But if the coyote goes hunting near a burrowing owl colony, they might hear the same scary sound—but this time, it’s coming from a hidden burrowing owl! One of their calls sounds just like a rattlesnake’s warning rattle, and tricks predators into staying away.

Learning another language can be fun for kids! Photo by Leonardo Toshiro Okubo on Unsplash

If your family doesn’t speak a second language as naturally as a burrowing owl does, don’t worry—you can still introduce your young children to another language in fun ways! Here, we’ll use examples (and instructions) in English and Spanish to get you started, but you can use any second language. And maybe a third, and then a fourth! And if you’d like to try out some brain-building activities in multiple languages, check out, or the CDC’s Milestone Tracker app at

What you need: Paper and crayons or markers, or an outdoor surface and sidewalk chalk; a friend or relative who speaks another language, or a phrase book or online translator for whatever language you want
Time: From 10 minutes to as much time as you have!
Age Range: 18 months to 8 years
School Connections: Science--observation and comparison; literacy—bilingual awareness and vocabulary building

Que necesitas: Papel y lápiz de color o marcador, o gis/tiza para acera; un amigo o pariente que habla otro idioma, o libro de frases o traductor en línea para el idioma que les interesca.
Duración: 10 minutos o todo el tiempo disponible
Rango de edad: 18 meses a 8 años de edad
Conexión escolar: Ciencia – observación y comparación; literatura -- conciencia bilingüe y amplificación de vocabulario

Grab your crayons and some paper! Photo by Leisy Vidal on Unsplash

Ask your child what one of their favorite animals is. Then suggest drawing a picture of it—and for extra fun, naming all its parts together in two different languages!

Pregúntele a sus niños cuál es su animal favorito. Pídale a sus niños que dibujen al animal – y que nombren los partes del animal en dos diferentes idiomas ¡Lo hace mas divertido!

Once your child has drawn their animal, ask them to point out some of its body parts. Either write the words for those parts for your younger child, or ask your older child to write them. Then, either get your bilingual helper on the phone, or get your phrase book or translation site ready. (Hint: Online sources that offer recordings of words by native speakers are extra useful!) Next to each body part name in your child’s native language, add the translation. Try pronouncing it together, especially if your helper is there to help you get it right!

Una vez que sus niños hayan dibujado el animal, pídales que señalen las diferentes partes del cuerpo del animal. Para los niños jóvenes pueden escribir las palabras por ellos, para niños mayores pidan que ellos escriban las palabras. Ahora, preparen a su amigo/pariente bilingüe por teléfono, o su libro de frases o traductor del internet. Escriban las traducciones. Intenten pronunciar las traducciones juntos, especialmente si tienen ayuda de su amigo/pariente para asegurar que lo pronuncian bien.

Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Head – Cabeza
Tail – Cola
Eyes – Ojos
Beak – Pico
Snout – Hocico
Mouth – Boca
Wings – Alas
Two legs – Dos patas
Four legs – Cuatro patas
Six legs – Seis patas
Eight legs – Ocho patas
Hooves – Pezuñas
Horns or antlers -- Cuernos
Talons or claws – Garras
Ears - Orejas
Shell – Caparazón
Scales – Escamas
Feathers – Plumas
Fur – Piel

Extension for babies: Consider learning a new language yourself—you can do it online—and practice while talking to your baby! Hearing different languages in their first months of life prepares baby brains for learning languages later, and the effects last years. And whether you try out a new language yourself, let your baby hear native speakers of different languages by playing radio stations from around the world. Children’s songs are often the easiest for adults to learn and singing is a great brain builder!

Extensión para bebes: Ensayen un idioma nuevo – pueden aprender por internet - y practiquen con sus niños. Al oír diferentes idiomas en los primeros meses de vida ayuda a los cerebros de bebés ser preparados para su vida entera. La acción de escuchar el son y tono de idiomas extranjeros tiene un buen efecto que durará para siempre, también se puede escuchar diferentes idiomas en la radio de diferentes países del mundo. Compartir canciones infantiles es divertido y muy efectivo para ayudar adultos y bebes aprender nuevos idiomas ¡Además cantar es modo de alimentar el cerebro!

Extension for older children: Once they’ve chosen their animal, look up together that animal’s range—where it lives in the world. Choose a language spoken in that part of the world to translate into!

Extensión para niños mayores: Cuando escogen algún animal, lo van a dibujar, busquen información sobre ese animal. Por ejemplo en que parte del mundo vive. Escojan el idioma de esa parte del mundo para traducir las partes del cuerpo del animal!

For the previous week's Zoomazium To You activities as well as animal-inspired activity kits and coloring pages, visit to invite the zoo to your home.


Curt Lennix said…
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