Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

I’m so excited to be bringing you another fun small world featuring animals from a Safari Ltd. TOOB today- this time we are exploring animals with scales, shells, and lots of teeth with the Safari Ltd. Alligators Alive TOOB! Safari Ltd. did provide this product to me free of charge, but all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

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When we were choosing what products we wanted to review from the Safari Ltd. catalog, the twins were both super excited about the Alligators Alive TOOB, which contains several gators as well as a snake and two varieties of turtle.  They’ve had plenty of first-hand experience with snakes (I’ve been known to let them hold the little Brown snakes we find in our yard, much to the horror of my Instagram peeps!), and they can identify the three different types of turtles that live in our favorite creek, two of them are featured in the TOOB, which is totally awesome.  As for alligators, those toothy suckers are the FIRST thing my son asks to visit at the zoo, so we’ve got ’em covered. This is important to me, because as I’ve mentioned before in my Building Language with Small World Play post, if you are using small world play as a language builder, you want to choose a theme that is high interest and that your children have had some experience with so they can make connections between the small world and “real life.”

To create our small world, I used our Step2 Water Table as the container.  This brilliant idea came from Shaunna at Fantastic Fun and Learning, who started the Step 2 small world trend with this beautiful dinosaur world. It just so happens that my parents had the water table in their garage, so I swiped it in the name of play and got to work!

During nap time, I drug it into their little kitchen play area and began setting up. I used gravel, sand, rocks from the yard, a package of assorted moss from Hobby Lobby, a piece of driftwood, and a gnarled root we found on one of our nature walks in the woods around a nearby lake.  Once their home was just so,  added our Safari Ltd. reptiles.

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

The alligators looked right at home in their new habitat.

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

This dude sunned himself on a rock, while the guy below warned everyone away from his territory. Don’t they look realistic with all their hand-painted details?

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

Here we have a soft shell turtle with his pointy nose (we spotted our first one at the creek just the other day).  

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

And last but not least, Syd’s favorite, the grumpy snapping turtle hiding out under a log, ready to stretch his neck out and gobble up some unsuspecting fish!

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

Just as everyone got settled in, the twins woke up from their naps and the fun really began!

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

SO much imaginative play and language stimulation happened with this small world. For an SLP mom, it was beautiful to watch! The twins made up stories with the reptiles, made the reptiles have conversations, and even played hide and seek with them!

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play

Oh, and we all did our best alligator impressions, too 😉

Reptile Small World and Sensory Play
Not only did the twins enjoy the imaginative play stimulated by this set up, but they also were very much into the sensory elements. They ran their hands through the gravel and sand, splashed in the water, made mud, and experimented with the moss and lichen to see which varieties would float. Using natural items as play elements introduces so much texture and makes a really rich experience for all the senses. And it made a perfect home for our newest Safari Ltd. miniatures!

*Disclosure: As disclosed above, Safari Ltd. did provide our Alligators Alive TOOB free of charge, but I received no other monetary compensation for this post.  All opinions are my own, and I never review or recommend products to my readers that I would not use with my own children!

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  1. Jelourai says:

    I just got my 24-month-old the Dinosaur TOOB this week, inspired by your Small World ideas and the company’s integrity. I’ve only given him two dinosaurs, so far, and they’ve been a HUGE hit. They are currently in mini sleeping bags on his pillow. I love these photos of your latest creation, I can’t wait to try something like it!

    • Stephanie says:

      That is so awesome, Jelourai! I am so glad he is enjoying them, and it’s a great idea to dole them out like that! I’d love to see those mini sleeping bags- sounds adorable 😉

  2. This is awesome! I’m going to look into the TOOB stuff!

  3. Love this! You have so many great details here. What a a great tool for play and learning.

  4. Very cool! As soon as I saw this, I thought “this would be great background for making a stop-motion film.” Now I have to try it…

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your small world! I love it and pinned it! Water tables are awesome bins. I have been inspired to use ours more and we even bring it inside now. I hope you will stop by today and share another great idea!

  6. This is the only way I’m ok with alligators just so you know 😉 My parents live in Florida and when the kids were younger, I would watch them like a hawk near the water (I know, the crazy things we do as parents). I’m featuring you in our ‘How Pretend Play leads to Science Exploration for Discover & Explore this week :)

    • Stephanie says:

      HAH! I believe I’d be right there with yah- not fond of real live alligators in the wild 😉 Thank you so much for featuring us this week!


  1. […] You can see an example of sensory play in the Step2 Water table in this post: Reptile Small World and Sensory Play. […]

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