Teach Through Apps: Petting Zoo

Teach Through Apps: Petting Zoo

Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary

Description: This funny, unexpected cause and effect app from Fox and Sheep uses A mix of common objects and simple line drawings to provide PettingZooopportunities for conversation and interaction. Created by Christoph Neimann, Petting Zoo engages young learners in unique ways and gets you laughing along with them.

Skills & Modifications: Apps are challenging to modify because you aren’t able to change the  materials contained within the program. For this app, the only modications I make are (1) turn off the music or the volume and (2) I hold the iPad and allow the learner to manipulate the screen. This way I can easily block the learner from touching the screen again if he/she hasn’t yet responded to the questions I asked.

Tacting (labelling) nouns, adjectives, and verbs – This is a great tool for practicing the skill of tacting because you can directly relate the new language to what happened when the learner touches the screen, and the screen does not change until the learner touches it again. This allows for time for your learner to respond at his/her own rate. If your learner is highly motivated by the app, touch the screen again to see what happens next acts as reinforcement for correctly tacting what appears on the screen.

Humor – The cause and effect aspect of the app appeals to the silly humor of young learners. This is a great, quick activity to share humor between the learner with autism and his/her siblings or same-age peers.

Wh questions – I use this app with some learners to generalize responding to Wh questions. There a range of questions you can ask about what is happening on the screen at any given point.


Body part identification – I also use this app to generalize body part ID. You can ask more specific questions such as “What part of the giraffe is moving?”

Pros: The whimsy of this app appeals to both early learners and the adults working with them. Kids get curious to see how many different things can happen on each screen, and that motivation can be used to practice a range of skills. It’s also clearly organized and easy to move to previous chapters if you want to revisit them, as shown below.

photo (28)

Cons: None.

Ideas for extending the lesson: There is a Petting Zoo Memory game that relates to the images in the app. This can be a great extension activity if the learner is highly motivated by the app. You can expand the wh- questions to include responses to what happened in the app without the app being present.

Cost: $2.99 You should invest in this game if: you are seeking unique interactive materials for young learners and early readers, you are looking for ways to share humor with young learners, or you just like fun apps.

ABLLS: C5, C6, C14, G4, G5, G8, G13

VB-MAPP: Tact 9, Listener Responding 10, Tact 11, Tact 13, Tact 14

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