PART II: The ultimate guide to activities with animal figurines for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers (hands-on & Montessori-inspired)

Grasshopper:CollectA 2009

Hi, thanks for stopping by! I am here today to share with you part II of my ultimate guide to activities with animal figurines. In the first one, I presented 34 ideas for fun and educational (mostly Montessori-inspired) activities for kids of different age. You can find it
here.
Just a quick mention that these are some of my son's favourite toys (played with every single day for the past 1,5 year), but because they are non-biodegradable, I got 95% of our collection second hand. I can not speak highly enough about their educational values.
They are wonderful, but please, please, please do not feel obligated to buy any toys that are being recommended by bloggers/ vloggers/ anybody else in this world, because all your child really needs is unconditional love, nutritious food, contact with the nature, care and the sense of security. The rest- the toys, the room decorations, all the fancy stuff is just an addition to her or his life, and it is totally up to you if you want to buy them. 

One more thing I need to mention is that some of the figurines may not be safe for babies, as some of their parts are sharp (like the musk ox's horns).


I categorized the activities into three groups: beginner friendly, intermediate and advancedNow, this is only to guide you, all kids develop slightly differently, so please do not feel bad if your kid didn't master one of the skills mentioned yet. I hope you enjoy reading and try some of these activities out 😊



BEGINNER FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES:
Texas Longhorn Bull: Schleich 2012,  racoon: Schleich 2009
DUSTING THE FIGURINES
You may think that I am crazy, but kids actually love this activity. You can introduce your child to dusting before they turn 1. It is a practical life exercise that supports the development of fine motor skills. 


Sheep, calf: AAA;  grasshopper, praying mantis: CollectA;  chipmunk: Schleich (2013),  rabbit: no name
TRANSFERRING WITH TONGS
Transferring object with tongs not only strengthens hand muscles, supports the development of hand-eye coordination, but also teaches concentration and patience.
The child needs to transfer figurines from one bowl/tray/basket to another using tongs. 


Turtle: Bullyland
ANIMAL AND SPOON (RACE)
This activity is similar to the old good egg and spoon race. When your child is walking and running confidently you can make it a race, but smaller kids can simply walk from point A to B holding a spoon with an animal figurine in their hand.


yak: Schleich (2009), mandrill female and baby: Schleich (2013);  grasshopper and praying mantis: CollectA (2009)
ORDERING BY SIZE
In this activity child orders the animals from the smallest to the biggest. I would suggest starting off with 3 very distinctive figurines, to make it easier for the child to understand the concept of ordering. 


INTERMEDIATE ACTIVITIES:
Tiger: AAA,;  triceraptos: Schleich (2011)
RECOGNIZING ANIMALS BY THEIR TAILS
In this activity, the child recognizes the animals by their tails. The rest of the figurine can be wrapped up in a piece of fabric or a sock. 


Racoon: Schleich (2009)
GUESS WHO?
In this activity, the child needs to guess which animal you are thinking of. You can set your own rules here, depending on your preferences and the age of your child. For example, the child may be allowed to ask open questions (where does he live? what is his colour?) or questions that can be answered only with 'yes' or 'no'. Have fun!


Sea horse: Schleich (2013), guitar fish: Schleich (2015);  goldfish: no name
ANIMAL THEATRE
Kids love playing theatre, and the animal figurines make fantastic puppets. You don't need to buy a proper theatre, you can make it out of cardboard box, or simply pretend that a shelf is a theatre. 


T-Rex: Safari Ltd. (1998);  triceraptos: Schleich (2011);  rhino: Schleich (2011);  koala: K&M;  duck and ducklings: no name
ORDERING BY WEIGHT
In this activity, the child orders the animals from the lightest to the heaviest or the heaviest to the lightest. It is a fun introduction to the concept of weight. 






STACKING
A fantastic activity which practices patience, hand-eye coordination and concentration. Even very young toddlers will be able to stack one figurine on the top of the other, and the older kids will surprise you with their creations and steady hands.




Velociraptor, bat, fly, dragonfly: no name;  zebra: Schleich (2008), bison: Schleich (2013)
SINKS OR FLOATS
Playing sink or float is a fun way to introduce your children to early science experiments. All you need is a bowl filled with water and a few figurines. The child places the figurines in the water and observes which ones are floating and which are sinking. 


ADVANCED ACTIVITIES:
Red deer: Schleich (2010)
WRITING A DESCRIPTION OF AN ANIMAL
Describing the animal in writing is a fantastic activity for older kids. It expands the vocabulary, and it is a great and fun way to practice spelling and grammar.  



Parakeet (Budgie): Schleich (2002)














HOT AND COLD GAME
Hot and cold is a fun and educational game, which requires 2 or more players and some small objects (this is why the animal figurines are just perfect here!). The rules of the game are very simple: one person leaves the room, and the rest of the group decides where to hide the figurine. Then the chosen person comes back to the room and needs to find it. The group helps him by indicating whether he is getting closer or moving away from the hidden item by saying 'hotter' and 'colder'. 



Bowl 1: Sea horse: Schleich (2013), guitar fish: Schleich (2015), seal: Schleich;  goldfish: no name;  clownfish: was added to an activity book 'Animal Adventures: Ocean Play Kit' by Silver Dolphin Books;  narwhal: CollectA
Bowl 2: bat, fly, butterfly: no name;  parakeet: Schleich (2002); owl- no name but I am pretty sure that this is a dupe of the Bullyland Great Grey Owl
GUESSING THE SORT
In this activity, the child needs to guess why some particular animals belong to one group. The cool thing about it is that you can make it as easy or as difficult as you want. Some ideas may include animals with wings, animals with stripes, ocean animals, animals that fly, nocturnal animals, arctic animals etc. 



Mexican redknee tarantula: CollectAn(2009), lion cub: CollectA (2010);  ant: no name;  chipmunk: Schleich (2013),  goat: Schleich (2012), hedgehog: Schleich (2004)
MAKING UP A STORY
Your child can draw a few figurines out of a basket or a bag, and make up a story including all of the animals he drew. Older kids can write it if they want to. Such a fun and creativity boosting activity!





Thank you for your time and please, do not forget to check out the first part of my guide, if you haven't already x





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