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Posted by Casey

Today I’d like to share a beautiful ocean themed small world that my husband set up for our 2.5 year old! We recently got home from a wonderful week-long road trip down to Sydney and back to Brisbane. During our trip, we stopped and explored at many different beaches, but our favourite was at Coff’s Harbour. On our final afternoon, our toddler collected lots of coral, pebbles and other loose parts on the beach. We popped them in a bucket and brought them home, knowing they’d be great for some imaginative play!

Ocean Themed Small World Tub | Toddler play ideas for developing oral language skills and imaginative play | Ideas for learning at home | Play-based learning |

I’ve been setting up small worlds for my daughter for as long as I can remember. It would seem this love for play-based learning has rubbed off on my husband! He set up this gorgeous invitation over the weekend. Lilly absolutely LOVED splashing in the water, crawling her turtles across the sand and creating her own little story as she played. It was a beautiful sight to see, especially knowing how proud my hubby was of his efforts! Didn’t he do an amazing job?

Ocean Themed Small World Tub | Toddler play ideas for developing oral language skills and imaginative play | Ideas for learning at home | Play-based learning |

So what did we use?

  • Our ‘Active World Tray’ from Modern Teaching Aides or Amazon
  • Sand from our sandpit
  • Plastic drop sheet to separate the sand from the water
  • Water from the hose
  • Our Schleich, Ocean Toob’s and Safari Ltd animals from Mini Zoo
  • Different shells from our collection (some from the dollar store)
  • Pebbles and rocks from the beach
  • Drift wood and corals from the beach

Ocean Themed Small World Tub | Toddler play ideas for developing oral language skills and imaginative play | Ideas for learning at home | Play-based learning |

How did we set it up?

My husband is so very clever! First he made a mound of sand which ran straight across the middle of the tub. Next, he laid down the plastic drop sheet and covered it with more sand. He made sure that the top sandy part was much higher and that the water part only had a thin layer of sand. Having the mound of sand across the middle meant that the water didn’t soak into the top part of the sand. It worked so well!

Once he had the base all finished, he added all the loose parts and plastic animals ready for Lilly to explore.

Ocean Themed Small World Tub | Toddler play ideas for developing oral language skills and imaginative play | Ideas for learning at home | Play-based learning |

If you liked this idea, head on over to the Play Ideas for Little Learners facebook group for more amazing ideas for play!

You can also grab a FREE copy of my Sensory Play Shopping list which will set a solid foundation for your sensory play! It’s filled with affordable resources to kickstart your sensory play stash today! You’ll also get three bonus activities suitable for sensory play beginners!

About the author

Casey is an early years teacher turned stay at home mum to three little learners aged 6 and under. She is passionate about supporting parents that want to use play as a vehicle to bond with their little learners and create magical memories of childhood! You can follow Casey on Instagram right here.


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