Children and animals go together like strawberries and cream! They love nothing more than reading animal story books, pointing out the ducks and squirrels that they see on daily adventures, and visiting petting zoos.
Animals are guaranteed to keep your little ones entertained for hours, but what if we told you that they can make playtime educational while still keeping all of the fun? Whether your child loves farmyard animals or giants of the deep, we have some creative, educational play ideas for everyone!
Visit to the Zoo:
Who here loves the zoo? We know we do! Bring the experience home, and set up your own little enclosures inside, or outside if it’s sunny! You can use anything to create individual animal homes: matchsticks, straws and pencils are just a few examples. Then, it’s time to populate your zoo!
We have so many wonderful suppliers who you can purchase your animals from, whether it’s the beautifully designed Noah’s Ark Playset from EverEarth, or some hand-cut wooden animals from Southsea Toys. Once you’ve carefully selected your lions, tigers and other exciting animals, it’s time to open up your zoo!
This is a fantastic way of not only encouraging child-led imaginative play, but also teaching your little ones which animals are endangered, and why zoos are important for the protection of these at-risk species. Perhaps, when you’re looking for new animal friends to join your zoo, you could ‘rescue’ the endangered ones and take the opportunity to explain to your child why that particular animal needs to join your zoo.
Does your little one have big dreams of jetting off to an exotic land and seeing these incredible animals in their natural habitats? Bring this dream to life through imaginative play! As the weather heats up, and if we close our eyes really tightly, we can almost imagine that we’re traversing through the Maasai Mara Nature Reserve in Kenya, searching for zebras and elephants.
Why not create a safari adventure of your own outside? This will be extra special if you have a sandpit, as you can position the Lanka Kade lions, rhinos and other wildlife reserve creatures in there. If you have a pond, or even a paddling pool, this can be a great hang-out for hippos and crocodiles!
Watch your little one become immersed in their own world as they take cheetahs running across the lawn and have giant elephants spraying trunks full of water into the air. This play not only stimulates their imagination and creativity, it’s also a fantastic gateway into educating them about the wider world, including conservation.
When they’re playing in ‘deserts’, ‘grasslands’ and ‘watering holes’, it’s a good time to gently explain the importance of protecting and preserving these natural habitats.
If they find books more engaging than toys, Usborne’s ‘Why Do Tigers Have Stripes’ and David McKee’s ‘Elmer’ are a gentle and interactive way of introducing them to these incredible animals that we share our planet with.
We all love a petting zoo! Going around and seeing the donkeys, chickens, pigs, cows and other farmyard animals is such a fun treat for the little ones – and us adults too!
If you can’t get to the farm, bring the farm to you with the beautiful Tender Leaf Toys Little Barn Set. A portable farm complete with a pig, hen, cow, lamb, duck, tractor and more, this set will bring out the little farmer in everyone. Need to expand? The Holztiger farm animals will fit right in, and you’ll soon have your work cut out – don’t forget to milk the cows!
You can create a fun little educational game while your child is playing with these farm animals, by asking your child what each animal provides. For example, chickens laying eggs and cows producing milk which can be turned into cheese.
Under The Sea:
Whether played in the bath or in the paddling pool, these fun underwater animal toys are sure to delight. A walrus on a raft?! This fun little guy from Small Foot definitely brightens up bath time. Did you know, a walrus can reach speeds of 21mph, and live up to 40 years old in the wild!
Dive deep to the bottom of the bath with the Lanka Kade Blue Whale, as he explores the ‘ocean floor’ and meets other ocean-dwelling animals.
After bath time, if your little one is still intrigued about all things sea-related, Usborne’s ‘Peep Inside The Sea’ is a lovely interactive book with beautifully illustrated scene – a perfect addition to your bedtime routine.
There you have it! We hope you’ve been inspired by one of our animal-themed play ideas and treat your little one to some new animal toys from some of our fantastic suppliers. It’s never too early to begin introducing your children to important issues such as the conservation of species and their habitats. These imaginative play ideas allow you to do that in a fun and interactive way.