LEAP: Learn, Explore, and Play

Calendar Icon January 12–March 9
January 13–March 10
Map Icon Regenstein Center for African Apes & Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House
Clock Icon 9:30–10:30 a.m.
Clock Icon $155 for a nine-class series
($132 for members)
Age Icon For children ages 2–4 with an adult
(cost is per child)
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.

Registration opens Tuesday, November 15 at 10 a.m.!


Session Options

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

Thursday Series

January 12, 19 & 26, February 2, 9, 16 & 23, March 2 & 9

Click here to register for Thursday Series

Friday Series

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

Click here to register for Friday Series

More Information

Participant Guidelines

  • 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 caregivers can keep them on their 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 (ages 5 and older) cannot attend the class, but are welcome to spend time in the space once class is over.
  • Some activities will be stationed outside and we encourage participants to dress for being outdoors in rain, sunshine, or snow. We will have access to the buildings to store personal items, use the washroom, and shelter from dangerous weather.

Health & Safety

Lincoln Park Zoo respectfully requires—for 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 outside as much as possible, but we encourage participants to bring face masks if they are medically able to wear them.

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 30

Refunds, minus a 12.5 percent processing fee, may be issued for cancellations if requested in writing by December 30. Send email cancellation requests to learning@lpzoo.org. Refunds are not available after December 30 for any reason, including illness.

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.

Application deadline: January 4

Apply in English

Aplicar en Español

For more information, please email learning@lpzoo.org or call 312-742-2056.

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.