Animal Shelter Dramatic Play You’ll Want to Adopt in Your Classroom

“We’re just going to look at the animals.” – Every parent’s last words before heading to the animal shelter and coming home with an adorable new pet. You just can’t resist those puppy dog eyes (at least we couldn’t). And that’s how we adopted Rusty. But there’s good news: there’s no real responsibility to worry about with this animal shelter dramatic play. Your preschoolers can go ahead and adopt all the stuffies they want! Check out how we set up this animal shelter dramatic play area!

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Pet Lesson Plans

Animal Shelter Dramatic Play

Ideas for Set-Up

First on the list is to set up four areas in your animal shelter dramatic play area: the kennels, vet clinic, grooming station, and outdoor play area. 


Your dramatic play area will come to life with all the printables I’ve included for you. From the animal shelter sign to the Adopt Me! signs, each detail has been carefully crafted. 


I’ve even included a list of materials you will need to gather to ensure each area’s setup is complete.


In no time, your animal shelter will be busy with preschoolers who are ready to play.


Pet Kennels

Animal Shelter Area

I don’t know about you, but the ASPCA commercials that show animals in kennels with sad music in the background always pull at my heartstrings. 


Luckily, no sad music will be playing in your animal shelter kennels. 


Even better – our kennels are easy to set up with things you already have in your classroom. Choose baskets, tubs turned on their sides, or a cube shelf to create each individual kennel. 


Once those are set up, just add bowls, beds, and, most importantly: stuffies!


Each animal will be ready for the perfect owner to come and adopt them!


Animal shelter

Feeding the Animals

Snack time can easily be toddlers’ favorite time of the day!


In the animal shelter dramatic play area, it is feeding time too!


The caretakers will feed the animals and ensure each bowl has been refilled. 


I’ve included labels for cups so your little ones can scoop out the food. 


Use brown pompoms as a realistic trade-off for animal food and provide a scoop for scooping out the perfect amount. 


Before you know it, the animals will be fed and ready for mealtime.


Vet Clinic

Taking Care of the Animals

I’ve always said that one of the best gifts you can give a toddler is a doctor kit


It provides endless entertainment, you’re guaranteed to fit in your yearly check-up (ha!), and it can be used in many different ways. 


For our animal shelter dramatic play area, the doctor kit will be put to good use in the pretend vet clinic.


It’s no secret that the vet clinic will be a classroom favorite! 


Your tots will use the check-up form, scale, and doctor kit items to care for each of the animals in the animal shelter.


Grooming Station

Bathing the Animals

Does anybody love bathing their pets?! I know it’s a chore that I push to the bottom of my list over and over again. Surely I’m not the only one!


In our animal shelter dramatic play center, grooming won’t be at the bottom of your toddlers’ list! 


Each incoming animal will be welcomed with a bath in a bathtub and a groomer that is ready to pamper them. 


Your little groomers will follow the instructions on how to give an animal a bath using shampoo.


Once the bath is complete, a quick dry-off with a towel is all the animals will need to feel fresh and clean as they enter the shelter.


Outdoor play Area

Dog Park

I’ve always wondered what our pets are thinking. Are they carefree, or are their opinions just stuck inside of them!? It would be interesting to hear their thoughts for a day!


I also wonder if a dog’s excitement about dog parks matches a toddler’s when they hear they are going to a park or playground. 


I’d like to assume they are equally the same, and for our final area, we will set up a stuffed animals outdoor play area.


A grass rug creates a realistic outdoor area for the animals to play. 


Include log slices and other objects to create pretend obstacles, just like any dog park would have to offer!


Adoption Forms

For Adoptive Parents

As I mentioned earlier… it’s hard to visit an animal shelter without needing an adoption form! 


Luckily, there’s no real responsibility needed in our dramatic play animal shelter because these animals are just too cute to resist. 


Your preschoolers will find their perfect fit and be able to fill out the animal shelter adoption form once they are ready to take the next step!


The printable makes it easy for your preschoolers to practice writing their name, choose their “furever” friend, and pledge to take care of their new companion. 


Will your little ones clear the shelter?


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Animal shelter dramatic play is an absolute favorite each year. I hope your little ones can create new memories while playing and practicing a variety of skills.

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