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Our Play: 6 Summer Safari Games

Go on a bear hunt
Make a list of animals that need to be found around the house. Anything's fair game: the puppy on the toilet paper package, the hippo drawing in your baby's board book, the barnyard set. Older kids can get creative searching for a llama; you can help steer toddlers toward the stuffies in the toy box.

Make a leopard mask
Cut two eye holes in a paper plate, then have your child paint it yellow. When it dries, he can outline the eyes with black crayon or marker, then dip a pencil eraser in black paint and use it as a stamp to make the leopard's spots.

Hop like a bunny 
The next time you're faced with kid inertia and you need to get out the door, tell everyone to move like an animal: Flap your wings like a bird, waddle like a duck, leap like a gazelle, wag your tail like a dog! 

Be animalistic 
With an older kid, play this twist on Geography: Name an animal, then the next person names one that starts with the last letter, and so on. For example: Leopard...Donkey...Yak...Killer whale...Egret...Tiger...Red-headed woodpecker. When someone hits a roadblock, everyone lets loose with a loud beastly call, then the person who was stumped gets to kick off a new game.

Mix it up 
At the Switcheroo Zoo (Switchzoo.com), kids can create their own wacky wildlife (head of a kookaburra, body of an elephant, tail of a giant anteater). There's also lots of fun facts about creatures, geography, and habitats. For real animal fun, check out the San Diego Zoo's live webcams (Sandiegozoo.org) and watch the pandas have breakfast or see the polar bears go for a swim. 

Break out in song 
Kids of all ages love animal tunes. Find critter-themed lyrics at Bussongs.com.

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