Recently Bear adopted a Hawksbill Sea Turtle through WWF and I couldn’t be more proud of my little conservationist. I think it is so, so important to teach children that we share our planet and that it is our obligation to do everything we can to protect it and the creatures we share it with. Subjects like conservation are tricky to explain to a toddler, so I whipped up a conservation small world sensory play to help me.
For this activity you will need:
- A sensory play tray
- Play sand
- Cocoa Powder
- Plant cuttings (I used ferns)
As with all my sensory play activities, I split the tray into different sections. For this activity I separated the small world into four different parts; savannah, ocean, forest and wetlands.
How to create a conservation small world sensory play:
- To create the savannah section I covered half of the tray with play sand.
- I then used a piece of foil to create the ocean. I used a length of foil that was slightly longer than the length of the tray. I then rolled up the four sides, placed it so it ran through the middle of the tray and filled with water.
- For the forest, I used some grass cuttings from one of our raised flower beds.
- To create the wetlands I took some plant cuttings (I used ferns) from my garden and taped them to the side of the sensory play tray. I then filled a quarter of the tray surrounding the ferns with my own sticky mud.
- I then placed plastic animals in the different areas and let the boys dig in.
Sticky mud recipe:
I actually have two sticky mud recipes, but decided to use this one for this activity because I wanted it to dry and crack in the sun to help me explain about global warming and the effects that has on animals habitats. If you want to have a look at my other sticky mud recipe it features in my dinosaur small world sensory play.
For this sticky mud recipe you will need:
– 250g Cocoa Powder
– 750g Plain Flour
I sieved the cocoa powder and plain flour into a bowl and mixed together. I then added water gradually as I continued to stir the mixture. Continue to add water until you get the consistency you want.
Ways to interact with this conservation small world sensory play:
- Name the animals, mimic the animals sounds and include actions. This is a really good way of encouraging language and speech development. For example we practised roaring like a lion, clapping our hands to snap like a crocodile and stomping our feet like a rhino.
- Talk about the differences between the animals. We talked about how elephants are grey, with long trunks, rhinos have horns, the zebras are stripy and male lions had big manes.
- Create homes for the animals. We modelled the sand to create a cave for the lions and then used the rhino to push sand aside creating a path to their ‘cave house’. We also discussed the different textures such as, sand is rough, the grass is smooth and the mud being sticky.
- Discuss how the animals need their habitats and environments in order to hunt for their food and have somewhere to live.
- I explained to Bear that humans cut down trees to build their houses and dig up fossil fuels to create electricity, which we use to light and heat out homes. I then explained that this takes away animal’s homes and food, causing them to disappear. I then continued to explain that we can help the animals but recycling, walking instead of using the car and turning down our heating.
I then left the conservation small world sensory play out for the boys to continue to go back to throughout the day.