LEAP: Learn, Explore, and Play

Calendar Icon March 24–May 19
March 25–May 20
Clock Icon 9:30–10:30 a.m.
Clock Icon $155 per child for nine-class series
($132 for members)
Age Icon Ages 2–4 with an adult
A zoo educator and a child play on tree stumps


Join us for a morning of investigating and exploring the natural world through play. Children guide the way as they choose whether to dig in the dirt, manipulate loose parts, create a collaborative work of art, or settle in with a story underneath a canopy of colorful fabric. Learn and grow together as you play alongside a wondrous world of animals in Regenstein African Journey and Farm-in-the-Zoo.

Session Options

Thursday and Friday sessions are the same. Please register for only one program series.

Thursday Series

March 24 & 31, April 7, 14, 21 & 28, May 5, 12 & 19

Click here to register for Thursday Series

Friday Series

March 25, April 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29, May 6, 13 & 20

Click here to register for Friday Series

More Information


  • Up to two adults can accompany each child during class.
  • Children 12 months or younger 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.
  • One-year-olds cannot attend the class.
  • Children who have aged out of LEAP (ages 5 and older) cannot attend the class, but are welcome to spend time in the space once class is over.

Health and Safety

  • The City of Chicago currently requires all guests continue to wear face coverings in buildings. For the health and safety of our guests and the animals in our care, please plan to wear a face covering indoors if you are medically able. LEAP will be stationed both indoors and outdoors.
  • Keeping health and safety in mind while COVID-19 remains a factor, we are reevaluating our material offerings and returning to a “less is more” approach. We will continue to rotate themes on a three-week basis, but each theme’s materials will remain the same. This will allow staff to more thoroughly sanitize materials and monitor objects for damage.
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

Cancellation Deadline: March 7

Lincoln Park Zoo adheres to a strict cancellation and refund policy. If for any reason you need to cancel your registration before this deadline, a refund will be issued, less a 12.5 percent processing fee. After this deadline, Lincoln Park Zoo will not be able to offer any refunds for cancelled registrations.


Lincoln Park Zoo offers partial and full scholarships, which cover the cost of one nine-class LEAP series plus free parking or public transit reimbursement. Please complete and submit an application to be considered for a scholarship.

Scholarships are available for all series, even if the program is sold out. Applying for a scholarship does not guarantee a spot in a program.

Scholarship deadline: March 9

Apply in English

Aplicar en Español

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.