Child's Play Parent Guide: Animal Theme


Child's play parent guide

Get ready for some animal adventures with these kids play activities that you can do at home to help develop your child's learning and language.

Animal Storytime activity

I get it, getting kids to sit through a whole animal story can be a bit tricky. If they wander off your lap to head to the play area then adding animal activities through play can be a great way of following up and getting their engagement.

After seeing all the animals at the park farm, we used our Duplo set to set up our own farm! (We borrowed this set from our local Toy Library – it is a really cost-effective way to give your child a variety of toys as they move through developmental stages, without the storage or cost issues.)

I’ve recorded a short video of my son telling me all about the sounds the animals make, while I talk about what type of animal they are, to help improve his verbal skills.  You could also talk about their colour, where they live, what they like to eat etc.  

This is a great activity for children as duplo is easy to clean and many pieces are big enough to be chewed on without being a chocking hazard – a full sensory experience!

 Animal Movement activity

Look what I can do! – what animal are you?  

Children love to use their bodies to pretend to be animals, especially the movement and sound aspects!  You can do it with them too 😊

We visited a local park farm (on a wet and muddy day) and met the animals – children don’t care about weather, just make sure they’re in waterproof gear! Then we headed home to see who we could be.  Let your child have space to move around – make sure they’re in clothing that gives them flexibility.

Talk to your child about the sound a chicken makes? How they peck at the ground?  Can they walk like a chicken?

Child's learning through play activity

Talk to your child about what sound a pig makes?  What do they smell like? What colours are pigs?

Talk to your child about what sound a horse makes?  Talk about the size of a horse (big and small)?  What do horses like to eat?

Educational activities for toddlers

You can do this with any animal – a trip to the zoo can give great inspiration too.  Children often learn animal sounds before they learn to say their names so younger babies will love you making animal sounds for them.

Messy Play

Ingredients for animal play activity

For this activity you will need:

  • Selection of animals
  • Coloured jelly crystals
  • Bowl
  • Boiling water
  • Tongs for older children
  • Large bowl/washing-up bowl
  • Splash mat

Mix the jelly crystals according to instructions on the packet and allow to cool. One cup makes 2c of jelly and having several colours of different jelly makes it even more fun. If you want to get your child involved in making the jelly encourage them to tip the jelly crystals in the bowl and watch as you mix with the hot water. 

Ensure your child is away at a safe distance from the bowl as you pour the hot water. As you are pouring you could say "hot" as the steam rises so your child starts to learn what hot means. Whisk the hot mixture and place in the fridge to cool to room temperature.

Toys in jelly

Once the jelly is cool immerse the animals in it and place it into the fridge.  As it begins to set push them down so that they are covered.

Empty the jelly and animals into a larger container – I’ve used a washing-up bowl.  I’ve added tongs for an older child, fingers are perfect for younger children to have a full sensory experience. 

Help your child to experience the texture and flavour! Talk about the texture, colour and taste - be ready for mess so do this part outside or with a wipe-clean splash mat underneath. Look at the different animals and make the sounds that the animal makes. See how many your child can name. If you don't know then say the name, and put it in a sentence:

"Look you've found the pink pig, can you say pig? What sound does the pig make"

Using tongs is also great for fine motor skills which are the building blocks for handwriting, if you have older siblings helping you this would be perfect.

I hope you found this useful,

Becky 

About the Author:

Becky is a Mum of 2 boys and 1 on the way. She is a Sassy Pants Nappy ninja in our free Sassy Pants group and helps parents to use cloth nappies. Feel free to come and join our group.