BIG Zoo Lesson

Talking with wildlife experts, observing animal behaviors, and researching animals from all over the world are all parts of the BIG Zoo Lesson. Students and teachers use Potter Park Zoo as their classroom for a week-long, in-depth study of biological sciences. BIG Zoo Lesson brings the classroom into the community by using the most authentic setting available for the children's learning.

Initiated by 2000 Michigan Teacher of the Year Margaret Holtschlag, BIG Zoo Lesson is an interdisciplinary, problem-based approach to teaching and learning and an innovative tool for learning conservation and developing sensitivity to the natural world. Following the model of Jane Goodall, children are up close as the primary researchers with a first hand experience of the animal world.

As the future stewards of the natural world, children in the BIG Zoo Lesson are offered the opportunity to learn about animals, careers, and their roles in conserving the world’s natural treasures.

Just How Big is BIG?

The week is a catalyst for a year-long thematic study but children will remember for a lifetime what they learn in this one week.  Essential components of the BIG Zoo Lesson include:

  • Professional development for teachers for correlation with Michigan Common Core Curriculum Standards.
  • Engagement in scientific investigations, and application to real world issues.
  • Extended periods of time for writing, sketching, conversation, and cooperative research.
  • Lessons designed by teachers and zoo staff who integrate curriculum and use community resources as learning tools.
  • Collaborative partnership of teachers, parents, zoo staff, and the community in the teaching and learning process.
  • Development of a profound appreciation and responsibility for taking care of the world’s resources.


Get Involved

For more information about the BIG Zoo Lesson, please contact: Margaret Holtschlag, Director of the BIG Zoo Lesson, 517-230-8268.

Visit the BIG Lesson website.