John Ball Zoo

Preschool Programs

Preschool Programs are for our youngest zoo enthusiasts. These classes are designed for the child only and offer a fun, enriching learning environment where 3 and 4-year-olds can explore the animal world. Class sizes are strictly limited to provide a safe and fun learning environment. Student to teacher ratios are 5:1. **All children must be completely self-sufficient in the bathroom. Diapers and pull-ups are not permitted. 

$20/Member/Class   $22/Non-Member/Class  9:00am-11:30am

    Sprouts - Fall 2022

    Join us for Animals Just Like Me! Each week the Sprouts will explore the Zoo and Park as they learn about animals that are just like them. Class time will include exposure to quality fiction and non-fiction texts, exploration of biofacts, and an up-close, hands-on animal encounter. Please join us for 1 class, a few classes, or the whole series. Please note that Thursday and Friday’s classes of the same week will be identical. We recommend choosing the day of the week that works best for you but do not recommend doing both days. 

    REGISTER We highly recommend using a desktop to register

    September 8, 9: Animals and Play Just like kids like to play, so do animals. Learn about how and why different animals play. 

    September 15, 16: Colorful Clues Kids like to use lots of colors when they draw. We'll take lots of colorful crayons, pencils, and paper up to the Zoo and find some colorful animals to draw. 

    September 22, 23: Transformers Kids love superheroes and toys that change into other things. Meet animals that have super abilities or can change shape and transform.

    September 29, 30: Our Home, Our Habitat Just like kids, animals have homes too. Examine how animals have different features for living in different habitats. 

    October 6, 7: Staying Safe Kids have to stay safe and so do animals. Learn about ways that animals stay safe in their natural habitat. 

    October 13, 14: Favorite Foods Learn about how some animals have favorite foods, just like kids do!

    October 20, 21: So Sleepy Learn about animals that sleep at night like we do and those who sleep during the day. Animals need sleep too.

    October 27, 28: Cute and Cuddly Just like kids start out as babies, so do animals and both have parents who take care of them in different ways. Learn about how different animals act as parents. 

    November 3, 4: Curious Creatures Animals can learn, just like kids! Learn how some animals learn things from each other and from experience, just like human kids do. 

    November 10, 11: Not so Noisy! Kids like to make noises. Learn about and listen to different noises real animals make. 

    November 17, 18: See Ya' Later Alligator Learn some common English expressions we get from animals; raining cats and dogs, monkey business, cat naps, hungry as a bear, and have a tiger by the tail. 

    Sprouts Information Packet  **IMPORTANT - if you did NOT receive this via a registration confirmation please call 616-336-4302 to confirm you are in fact registered. 

    Winter in the Woods - 2022/23

    This winter, register your 3 and 4 year olds for Winter in the Woods. If you bring the warm, dry clothing, we'll supply the hours of outdoor exploration, fun, and hands-on learning in John Ball Park's wooded hillside and natural spaces. 

    For young children, play is the natural and primary method of learning about themselves, other people, and the world around them. Snow can be the best toy a child will ever know. And we believe there is no such thing as an, “indoor kid.” When kids are dressed appropriately for the weather, their natural learning style emerges and we see active, happy, creative kids who, when allowed the opportunity, will have an awesome time outdoors for an hour or more! Even when the wind blows and snow piles up, children who are wearing warm, dry layers can play and play! Each week has a theme but each day is a new exploration so you are welcome to sign your explorer up for more than one session in a week!

    Themes we may be exploring may vary from the schedule below. These experiences will be largely based on the unpredicatable, teachable moments that occur in nature with young children. With this in mind, please know that if you sign your child up for a specific date based on the theme that week, it is entirely possible that the actual content may change based on the real-life experiences the kids are having outside! Stories, activities, and animal encounters may be more centered on the theme. 

    Registration for Winter in the Woods will open November 1 at 8am

    December 1 & 2 

    December 8 & 9 

    December 15 & 16

    January 5 & 6

    January 12 & 13

    January 19 & 20

    January 26 & 27

    February 2 & 3

    February 9 &10

    February 16 & 17

    February 23 & 24

    March 2 & 3

    March 9 &10

    March 16 & 17

    March 23 & 24

    Winter in the Woods Information Packet

    Meet the Teacher

    Tahlia Hoogerland 

         Tahlia is a certified teacher with two degrees in Early Childhood Development and 20 years' teaching experience. She has been an instructor here at John Ball Zoo since 2017, primarily teaching Sprouts and Winter in the Woods classes and facilitating Travel Zoos and Wild Encounters for school groups. Additionally, Tahlia has designed and facilitated outdoor education experiences with elementary school age children since 2009. 


    Please direct questions to or 616-336-4302