LEAP: Learn, Explore, and Play

COVID-19 Update

All LEAP programs are canceled until further notice.

Sign Up for Registration Updates

A zoo educator and a child play on tree stumps


Investigate and explore the natural world through play. At LEAP, children choose their experience, all with parents, guardians, and educators playing along and following their lead—whether they’re digging in the dirt, manipulating loose parts, creating a collaborative work of art, or enjoying a story underneath a colorful fabric canopy.

Learn and grow together as you play alongside a wondrous world of animals, and wrap up your morning with the group by reading a story or taking a nature walk.

More Information


  • Up to two adults can accompany each child during class.
  • Children younger than 12 months old are welcome to attend an older sibling’s class at no additional charge, as long as you can keep them on your person or in a stroller for the duration of the session.
  • 1-year-olds cannot attend the class.
  • Children who have aged out of LEAP (5 and older) cannot attend the class but are welcome to spend time in the buildings once class is over.
Become a Member

Lincoln Park Zoo members enjoy invitations to exclusive zoo events, free and reduced parking, and discounts on purchases and youth programs—like LEAP!

Become a Member


If we cancel a program, full refunds will be issued. If you need to cancel your registration for any reason before the deadline, a refund will be issued, less a 12.5 percent processing fee. We cannot offer refunds for cancelled registrations after the deadline.


Lincoln Park Zoo offers partial and full scholarships that cover both program and transportation costs. Check back later for more information.

A zoo educator reads a book to children and their families

Our Learning Philosophy

About Nature Play

Playing in nature engages all our senses at once. It helps us learn how to problem-solve, fosters creativity, and helps us concentrate. When playing, we feel happy and joyful, and by playing outside, we learn to love nature and thereby develop lifelong conservation values. At LEAP, activities are designed to help your child make those discoveries and begin that process of exploration in and alongside nature.

About Child-directed Play

Child-directed play is an important part of early childhood and provides many benefits across all areas of development. It is open-ended, has no “right” or “wrong” way to play, and puts the child in control of the activities. Children who make their own decisions while playing are building a sense of self-direction and self-confidence. They are constructing an understanding of the world around them and using these experiences to process and make sense of how things work.

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