LEAP: Learn, Explore, and Play

Calendar Icon January 13–March 10
January 14–March 11
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 the Regenstein Center for African Apes and the Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House.

Session Options

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

Thursday Series

January 13, 20 & 27, February 3, 10, 17 & 24, March 3 & 10

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Friday Series

January 14, 21 & 28, February 4, 11, 18 & 25, March 4 & 11

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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

  • Lincoln Park Zoo respectfully requiresfor the safety of the animals in our care–that all guests continue to wear face coverings at all times in animal buildings. LEAP will be stationed indoors and we encourage participants to wear face coverings if they are medically able to wear them.
  • Keeping health and safety in mind in a post-COVID-19 world, 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: December 27

Lincoln Park Zoo adheres to a strict cancellation and refund policy. If for any reason you need to cancel your registration before December 27 a refund will be issued, less a 12.5 percent processing fee. After December 27, Lincoln Park Zoo will not be able to offer any refunds for cancelled registrations.

LEAP Scholarships

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.

Apply in English

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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