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Toronto Zoo Experience 1

Our first experience at the  Toronto Zoo has been in the planning stages for a while.



Below you wiill find our Zoo Math Sheet, a template for our flow chart which is needed for the final student artifact, our padlets for student and parent input and for our own documentation purposes, a condensed version of our emails with the School Coordinator Jennifer Adams.


Zoo Math Sheet (needed for final artifact)

Zoo math.pdfZoo math.pdf



 Flowchart template (needed for final artifact)


Padlet to input some of your new learnings. Parent feedback welcome as well 

 Padlet to input your questions


Padlet to input what your next steps will be 


Padlet after Day 3 


Final artifact expectations


Beyond the Classroom Artifact - revised.pdfBeyond the Classroom Artifact - revised.pdf

 Samples of student work from final artifact






Parent reflections
parent zoo ref 2.jpg

parent zoo ref 3.jpg

parent zoo ref 4.jpg

parent zoo ref 5.jpg

parent zoo ref 6.jpg
parent zoo reflection1.jpg

Our home base


Animal observations





From: []
Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 11:11 AM
To: Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester) <>
Subject: RE: Proposed Pilot Project
Hello Roy and Barb,
On day 1, I'll plan to meet you when you arrive and then we can walk together to the 'home base' and get started with a discussion about why Zoos are important.





In terms of incorporating plants, I've attached one resource that might help and there are 3 others available to download for free from the Zoo's website (Self-guided Tours)- Gr 3 Plant & Animal Interactions & the Eurasia Wilds Primary & Junior. The attachment identifies some of the more interesting plant species we have at the Zoo and which pavilions to find them in. The other 3 resources are self-guided tours- 1 focuses on the relationships between plants and animals and includes some information about specific plants at the Zoo and the other 2 include small sections on natural meadows (specifically referencing the one in Eurasia). I also have a few invasive species guides which I could lend and the students could try to locate invasive plant species on-site. Although Zoo staff work hard to remove them, it is a never ending process.



Between the discussions on Day 1 (Importance of Zoos) and 3 (budgeting/animal nutrition), I unfortunately, do not have more of my time to share. We could, however, switch the focus on day 3 to plants if you would prefer.








Sounds good Jennifer.
A few other quick things
1.       We were thinking for day 1, we’ll start right with you.
2.       Barb has asked if Day 4 could be something around plants.
Will look forward to seeing you soon.
From: []
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2016 1:24 PM
To: Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester) <>
Subject: Re: Proposed Pilot Project
Hi Roy,
It seems like everything is coming together. I will let Barb and you finalize your details this week and will forward to hearing from you near the end of the week to confirm the time of the talk on Monday.
I have attached the quotes for each of your visits, which includes the 50% off admission for visits 2, 3, and 4. The number of students will be adjusted each visit to account for any students who are absent. I have also attached the Zoo's self-guided visit confirmation package, which covers general information related to field trips.
Jennifer Adams
Temporary Education Coordinator
Education Branch
All sounds excellent and I especially like the idea of seeing the same animal for a few days in a row to observe them at different times. Barb, I wonder if we can make that part of our pre work this week. Journaling about the school yard or an actual location (Kennedy and Finch) at three different times.
Budgeting and animal nutrition part sounds excellent as well.
We will have kids with some questions by the end of this week and my initial thought is to start day one with the talk but we'll figure that out this week as well.

From: <>
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2016 12:44 PM
To: Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester)
Subject: Re: Proposed Pilot Project
Hello Roy and Barb,
Those are all great suggestions and I will throw in a few of my own suggestions.
Day 1 (Sept 26)- 'Purpose of Zoos' talk with a focus on SSPs and where Zoo animals come from. I have an activity that helps explain how breeding matches work in relation to the Sumatran tigers. I'll try to determine if I can incorporate it into my talk or if its something the students can look at afterwards. I can meet everyone when you arrive and lead you up to your 'home-base' (Barb- since you know the Zoo layout, it is the Bush Camp site, which is located in the Africa Savanna by the white rhinos). Would you like to start the day with the talk or do some exploring first?
Day 2 (Sept 29)- Special Meet-the-Keeper talk. When I arrange the talk, I will mention the areas of focus (husbandry, day-to-day care, and enrichment) to Wildlife Care. It might be useful for the students to brainstorm some questions that they are wondering about ahead of time. While the students are exploring the Zoo, they might want to record some of the enrichment items they see in each exhibit and take notes about how the animals are interacting with it.
Day 3 (Oct 3)- Not confirmed- maybe budgeting or animal nutrition- I might be able to get some basic costs related to feeding the animals and then you could combine both budgeting and nutrition together. We may also have some food samples that I could share. Otherwise, looking at the cost of caring for a pet vs an animal at the Zoo sounds great too.
I could certainly set-up behind-the-scenes tours, but there is an additional cost ($10 per student) which, even with this being a pilot project, we would not be able to waive. As the Wildlife Health Centre is under construction, the vet aspect may be difficult. There are several Wildlife Care staff at the Zoo that have a veterinary technician background and the students could certainly ask health-related questions at any Meet-the-Keeper talk.
Day 4 (Oct 5)- Meet-the-Keeper talks - student choice.
Observing animal behaviour + journaling/sketching- definitely a great focus. The students may benefit from observing the same animal multiple times over their visits to different behaviours and interactions. Comparing animals, whether from the different classes (e.g. mammal vs reptile vs bird) or different areas (e.g. polar bear vs giant panda) might yield some interesting discussions. To tie in math, students could prepare ethograms (charts that track behaviour) based on their observations. The Lincoln Park Zoo did create an App for iPhones/iPads called Observe to Learn: Exploring Animal Behaviour that allows students to create their own ethograms from their observations. I'm not sure if it works without wifi access, but if you have iPads available at school, students could try it at school and then create one on paper at the Zoo.
The Minnesota Zoo has resources developed that focus on STEM and math, as well as enrichment and exhibit design challenges. While they are not specific to the Toronto Zoo, they might be useful to take a look at to get some ideas. Barb- as you are familiar with the Zoo, you might be able to adapt parts of them to work here. Teacher Resources- click here; Design Challenge- click here (there is a link to this year's challenges).
I will work on preparing a confirmation package and a quote for each date. Payment will be required for each visit.
>>> "Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester)" <> 2016-09-13 8:21 PM >>>
Please see the great suggestions from my Gr. 5/6 teacher Barb.
If we're able to incorporate any of this, it would be great especially the behind the scenes tour

From: Barb Stoner <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 7:41 PM
To: Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester)
Subject: Re: Proposed Pilot Project
Dates look good Roy!
Day 1 - good for 'purpose of zoos' talk and maybe relay to Jennifer for them to include things like the SSP program (Species Survival Plan) and where they actually obtain the animals from if not born in captivity (as many think they are just 'ripped' from the wild)
Day 2 looks good - keeper talk! Definite animal husbandry would be good, the day to day care, but maybe also mention to Jennifer for them to touch on animal enrichment. It's important to know what a zoo does to stimulate the brain of the animal and make them learn.
Day 3 - I don't know how much the kids would get out of budgeting but if they can bring it down to a kid level, fine; if not, maybe we could cover that sort of thing with a math component; we could get them to budget for a pet, say a dog, and then emphasize how much grander it would be for a zoo
The other idea would be if a VET could talk to us; that would be awesome.The life of an exotic vet is so very different from a domestic vet.
I think another good topic would be ANIMAL NUTRITION!
And lastly, another suggestion would be if we can get a BEHIND THE SCENE to actual see (ie. It's neat to see inside the gorilla house, the tanks,...) but then given the number, they may not be able to (but would be great if they could).
Given that it's the zoo, now that I think about it, having no wifi access is probably a blessing! We don't need to bury ourselves in a computer screen when we have a vast array of animals before us. We can look at the screen anytime! So why don't we go at it that we actually go to each zoo geographic area to observe animal behaviour.
Day 1  - the Americas and maybe watch the polar bears...
Day 2 - IndoMalaya and maybe watch the orangutans...
Day 3 - Africa and maybe watch the gorillas or the meerkat...
I know the zoo like the back of my hand so we're ok that way and maybe for each area I can make up a list of the more popular animals and they can pick from the limited list, exactly what animal they want to observe and then sketch, journal about, and ultimately maybe learn more about.
The other option would be rather than zoo geographic, we could go and observe each day...
Day 1 - mammal
Day 2  - amphibian
Day 3 - fish.......
We can talk but anyway, may be a few more ideas to send off to Jennifer.

Sent from my iPad

On Sep 13, 2016, at 6:37 PM, Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester) <> wrote:
Hi Jennifer,
Yes Sorry, Sept 26.
Barb, please reply all if you feel differently, but I was thinking
Day 1 the purpose of zoos talk
Day 2  the animal  keeper talk at 11 am
Day 3 – maybe the budget piece
Day 4 – student visit zoo keepers on their own.
We’re ready to confirm the dates Jennifer and I’ve filled in the info at the bottom of this email.
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 2:50 PM
To: Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester) <>
Cc: Stoner, Barb <>
Subject: RE: Proposed Pilot Project
Hello Roy,
Of the four dates, three look good (Sept 29, Oct 3, and 5), but just want to double-check the first date as Sept 25 is a Sunday. Did you mean September 26? If so, that date also works.
I can also arrange for a special 30 minute Meet-the-Keeper talk with the Wildlife Care staff coming to where the students will be setting up. Did you have a specific day and time in mind for it? Wildlife Care staff have specific animal-related responsibilities/duties every morning, so the earliest I can schedule it would be 11:00 am.
Did you want the discussion of why Zoos exist to happen on day 1? Have you started to put together tentative plans/ideas for each day?
Wifi- while I would love to say that we have guest access on-site because I know it would assist the students with their research, the only areas where guest access exists are in buildings that are not accessible to the public (e.g. boardrooms).
Also, when you get a moment, there are a few details that I will need in order to set-up your visits in the booking system.
# of students per grade level: 13 Gr. 5 students  18  Gr. 6 students
# of supervisors attending: 3 supervisors
Arrival time:  9:45 am
Departure time:  2 pm
Jennifer Adams
Temporary Education Coordinator
Education Branch
T:  416-392-5944
F:  416-392-5948
361A Old Finch Ave
Toronto, ON M1B 5K7
Educator E-Newsletter - Subscribe Today!
Toronto Zoo is accredited by CAZA (Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums) and AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums). Look for CAZA’s and AZA’s logos whenever you visit a North American zoo as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. For more information, please visit and
>>> "Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester)" <> 2016-09-11 4:56 PM >>>
Thanks for the reply Jennifer.
I like your suggestion for #1 and #4. Wondering if we can possibly have ONE of the zoo keeper days start with a 30 minute presentation to the class in the area where we’ll be setting our students up. This just allows the teacher  and I to have an overview time with the students as well. For the other of the two zoo keeper days, we’ll look at doing what you suggested and have students attend one of their choice.
Looks like our best date option is going to be the spread out option   Sept 25, Sept 29, Oct 3 and Oct 5.
Lastly, I understand the wifi issue. At the same time given that students are going to be researching individual questions, if there’s any guest wifi access  (we have that at school) that would be very helpful.
I know a few of these requests are different but we’re hoping that since this is a pilot project that we can try a few things that might not be in the norm for the zoo and see how it works out for us both.
Thanks and will look forward to talking soon.
From: []
Sent: Friday, September 9, 2016 2:25 PM
To: Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester) <>
Subject: RE: Proposed Pilot Project
Hello Roy,
We are very flexible on the dates and all three of the options you listed work for us, so choose whichever dates work best on your end. I will be leading staff training on Sept 21, 22, & 23 (tentative dates), which may affect how we plan the guest lecture component (see below), but it should not impact the dates you ultimately choose.
In terms of the guest lectures, my supervisor and I discussed what is possible on our end.
  • I am available to discuss #1 (reasons for Zoos existing) with the students.
  • For #2 and #3, the Wildlife Care staff would be the best people to cover these topics. As we offer Meet-the-Keeper talks daily at many different animals (highlight animal information, but also answer questions), our thinking is that the students could attend one or more of these talks and ask the Wildlife Care staff their questions. If groups of students attended different talks (based on their interests), they would be able bring their information/learnings back to the class as a whole for a discussion. To help facilitate this, I can forward potential questions/topics to the Wildlife Care staff prior to your visit so they are prepared for the questions.
  • For #4, we unfortunately would not have anyone available to discuss the budget (since everyone is currently working to prepare the 2017 budget), but all of our budgeting information is publicly available so I could put together a few things for you, including some questions to get the students thinking about what impact some of the decisions we make has.
Wi fi access- the Zoo unfortunately does not have wi fi available to the public (the large size of the Zoo and the trees make it difficult to transmit the signal). The students will, however, find lots of signage on site that should assist with some of their research.
As we discussed back in the spring, we can provide the students access to an outdoor area that is not accessible to visitors to serve as a 'home base'. The large area has some open spaces, a covered structure with picnic tables, a tap, and easy access to washrooms.
Once the dates are chosen on your end, we can start to finalize some details.
Jennifer Adams
Temporary Education Coordinator
Education Branch
T:  416-392-5944
F:  416-392-5948
361A Old Finch Ave
Toronto, ON M1B 5K7
Educator E-Newsletter - Subscribe Today!
Toronto Zoo is accredited by CAZA (Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums) and AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums). Look for CAZA’s and AZA’s logos whenever you visit a North American zoo as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. For more information, please visit and
>>> "Fernandes, Roy (St Sylvester)" <> 2016-09-07 2:45 PM >>>
Hi Jennifer, 
Thanks for the call back. Sorry I think was teaching in a class when you called. Just about to get our bus students out so I’ll try you around 4 if you’re still there.
In the meantime, I’m emailing just a few more ideas.
Can’t recall if I’ve given you our planning template before but it’s attached.
For our 3 or 4 guest lectures, we were thinking of the following
1.       Reasons for zoos existing (specifically in terms of  negative perception about them as contrasted by their necessary work)
2.       Logistics of zoos (kids were asking questions such as winter time requirements at the zoo and how animals get into the zoo)
3.       What’s involved in animal care
4.       If budget is something that can be discussed that would be hugely useful from the mathematics perspective.
Idea would be to have a speaker (different ones I guess) talk about each of the above issues for no more than 30-45 minutes and rest of the day the students would be doing their research in any available space with wi fi access.
Our date availability has changed somewhat and I’m thinking it would either be
Sept 19-21 and 23
Sept 26, 27 and 29
Sept 20, 21, 23 and 26