QDPA = A Day at the Zoo

By Alan Russette & Tony Lill


  • The class will be asked to set up in scatter formation
  • The setup is: We are all spending a day at the zoo. But in this particular zoo, we don't believe in keeping animals in cages, so the children have to take the place of the animals.
  • The teacher acts as the Head Zookeeper and calls out the names of the different animals
  • The first time the activity is tried, the teacher should model examples of the different animals. Start with a few, then add more acquisitions as the students demonstrate an ability to switch animals easily.
  • Once an animal's name is called, the students will pretend to be the animal and move around the area until the next animal is called
  • Potential animals include, but are not limited to, ducks (duck walk), monkey (monkey walk), crab (crab walk), lion (lion lunge), elephant (elephant walk), frog (frog jumps), kangaroo (kangaroo hops), giraffe (giraffe layup). See below for more ideas and additional description.
  • The teacher will circulate throughout the area and feed the animals and compliment the students on their form
  • A different animal should be chosen every 2 minutes (3 minutes maximum). The schtick can be: here come some visitors, they are going to the xxx cage, now they're going to the yyy cage, ... Increase the frequency of changes as the children become comfortable.
  • Mix it up so that a variety of different movements are performed, in order to maintain student interest

Safety Issues

There is the potential for rough-housing as the students imitate lions or other such animals with sharp teeth and claws. Remind them of the rules about helping hands and huring hands before the game. Anyone who disobeys can do jumping jacks for the rest of the period.


Best suited to a clear space, like the gym or the school yard, but could be done in a classroom setting if desks are re-arranged, and slower moving animals are chosen.


Scatter formation
4 corners/semi-scattered (if space is not an issue)

Goals of the Activity

elevate student heart rates
promote student physical activity
stimulate large muscle groups


divide the area into cages with designated animals for each cage, have the students circulate between the cages. This can work well in a classroom if some desks are moved to a wall and some to the center creating a circular track.
Who would win - divide the area into cages with designated animals for each cage, then have them try to tag out the other students in their cage while staying in character. When they get tagged out, they move to the next cage and try to do the same.
Divide the area into cages with designated animals for each cage , pick a number of students to be zookeepers, they have to skip around the cages and tag the animals that try to escape. If a student is tagged escaping, they have to cross the cage before trying again. If someone does escape, they become a zookeeper, and a zookeeper gets demoted to an animal. Avoid very low or fast animals in this variation.

Notes on animals

Some of these animal imitations are inspired by the various animal styles of kung fu. These style are based on the observation and imitation (more or less literally) of the animals they are named for. The videos are provided more to give a feel for how to imitate the animals. Obviously, you can't use most of what shown, but there are a few moves in each that can be used to make a good, active animal.

Monkey is very acrobatic and low to the ground. He can run on all fours, or with one hand, tumble, somersault, jump, do handstands. He is best suited to situations where you have lots of room, and a suitable floor or grass. This video shows a demonstration of Monkey Style Kung-Fu, some of the simpler moves can be used for this exercise. Don't forget the monkey sounds!

Snake is very sinuous, flexible and graceful. He moves side to side using a slightly wider than shoulder width stance, and short sideways shuffles. Emphasize a fluid motion through the torso to work the core muscles. Hands should be flat (knife hand, or like a karate-chop) and used as the head of the snake. They should move side to side and strike quickly. This demonstration of Snake style Kung Fu shows how the upper body and torso should move.

The first demonstration in the following clip is also for the snake form. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQkLQPBbGlA

Crane is preformed like in 'Karate Kid', except without the kick. Have the students put their arms out the the side for outsretched wings, They should stand on one foot and take very slow high steps. This is for ballance as well as to give them a breather between the more aerobic activities.

Frogs hop, ducks do a duck walk, crabs do a crab walk, and chickens to the chicken dance!

Tigers or lions do a lunge, and at the same time make a big grabbing motion with the arms and fingers formed like claws. Don't forget to roar!

Inchworm crawls forward with his arms until stretched out face down on the floor, then pulls his legs forward while raising his but in the air to work the abs.

Elephants walk on all fours and occasionally raise one arm as a trunk and trumpet.

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