If I Ran the Zoo Lesson Plan

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

This lesson plan will teach your students about the book 'If I Ran the Zoo' by Dr. Seuss. They will also participate in activities that will help to reinforce the new material they learned.

Learning Objectives

After studying this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Describe how the townspeople would react to Gerald McGrew's zoo.
  • Explain why he wanted to create a new zoo.
  • Name some of the animals in Gerald's zoo.


1 - 1.5 Hours


  • Copy of the book If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss (read alouds are also readily available for free online)
  • Crayola modeling clay
  • Internet access
  • Play-Doh

Key Vocabulary

  • Bad-Animal-Catching-Machine
  • Cooker-mobile
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Gerald McGrew
  • Skeegle-mobile
  • Topknots

Curriculum Standards


Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.


Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.


Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

Instructions and Activities


  • Inform your students they will be learning about the Dr. Seuss book If I Ran the Zoo.
  • Ask them if anyone is familiar with the book, or has even already read it.
  • Display a copy of the book.
  • Review the key vocabulary terms.
  • Read the book If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss to your students, or have them take turns reading passages.
  • Now ask them the following questions:
    1. What is the name of the boy who imagines the new zoo, I ask you? (Gerald McGrew)
    2. To Gerald, what is wrong with the animals at the regular zoo? (they are old-fashioned, and not quite good enough)
    3. What would he do at first to the regular zoo? (open all the cages and let all the animals go)
    4. What kind of lion would he have in his new zoo, it's true? (a ten-footed lion)
    5. What will the hens in the new zoo do? (roost on top of one another in their topknots)
    6. What would be unusual about his elephant? (it is an elephant-cat)
    7. How will he get up past the North Pole? (in his Skeegle-mobile)
    8. What country can't you spell very well? (Motta-fa-Potta-fa-Pell)
    9. What are the feet of Joats, is it goats? (cows)
    10. What will he capture in Nantucket? (Lunks in a bucket)
    11. What would be odd about the deer family, you see? (their horns are all connected)
    12. What animal from the Desert of Zind is fast as the wind? (a scraggle-foot Mulligatawny)
    13. What lives in North Dakota and South Carolina? (an Iota)
    14. Instead of his hands, what will Gerald use for dangerous animals? (a Bad-Animal-Catching-Machine)
    15. What bugs will he capture? (thwerlls and chuggs)
    16. How long does it take for an oat to reach the canary's belly? (about 45 days)
    17. What will he bring back from Nantasket, a basket? (a Gooch)
    18. What lives in a cave in Kartoom? (the Natch)
    19. How will Gerald get him out, no doubt? (cook him a meal in his Cooker-mobile)
    20. To where will Gerald sail? (Ka-Troo)
    21. What huge bird does Gerald want to catch? (a Fizza-ma-Wizza-ma-Dill)
  • Finally, recap the entire book If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss, and answer any questions your students may ask you.

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