Invitation to Play. Playdough and Chicks Sensory Small World Play

Apr 12, 2014

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Last Easter, I bought a whole lot of little chicks in different colours to use for an activity. (I actually bought them after Easter when the price was reduced and shops were trying to get rid of all their Easter stock. For some reason I packed them away and completely forgot about them until we started approaching this Easter and I saw them in the shops again).

As I couldn't remember the originally activity I'd had in mind, I decided to create a simple Invitation to Play with the chicks and some sensory materials. This activity was open ended so that it allowed for creative, imaginative play for both my 2 year old toddler and 5 year old.

We used the activity to further language skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sorting, counting, colours, classifying, story telling, model making and more.


Ages: 12 months+
(See the handy tips at the bottom for ideas to suit your child's needs)





Materials used:
  • Little chicks (varying colours and sizes)
  • Shredded paper
  • Playdough from our No-cook playdough recipe
  • A couple of plastic easter egg halves in corresponding colours
  • Little plastic gemstones


With my daughter at school, my toddler had first play with the small world. Usually I will just provide the materials and let the kids work out what they want to do with them, but this time I was interested in creating a little scene first to encourage a more creative, imaginative play scenario and see how he would interact with it.

The small world set up certainly captured his attention and he was delighted by it all and keen to touch and play with everything.


At this stage, he didn't engage with the scene in a role-play type of way. He instead was mainly interested with how he could manipulate all the materials. What were they capable of?

I encouraged language development and colour knowledge by talking with him about the chicks as he played with them and using descriptive language to match his actions to the words.


When he'd done playing, I re-set the scene back again and put it aside for my daughter to play with when she got home from school. As expected, she was just as keen to play and instantly went into role-play mode, narrating a constant dialogue that accompanied her play. The materials all came together for her to make and tell stories of the adventures the chicks were having and to ensure they all had adequate accommodation in their little world.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am loving watching and observing the comparison between the ways that older and younger children engage with the same materials.



Handy Tips

Simplify this activity by providing a fewer amount of chicks. You could start with 3 larger sized chicks and focus on counting the amount of chicks and manipulating them and the materials. Try using less materials in total so that your child can focus on the capabilities of just a few items ie, the playdough, shredded paper and chicks.


Extend this activity by:
  • Encouraging children to match corresponding coloured chicks to the half plastic eggs
  • Counting and grouping chicks in colours, sizes etc.
  • Challenging children to use the playdough to create new homes for all the chicks
  • Having school aged children write a story about the adventures their chicks got up to in their small world
  • Providing the materials seperately and allowing children to create their own small world from scratch

Mix it up with lots of different coloured playdough and various other additions to the small world. Use coloured rice, easter eggs, flowers, leaves etc.


- Use descriptive language that goes with this experience to help develop your child's vocabulary. Eg "chick, shredded, imprint, pattern, squishy, habitat" etc.


-  Playdough is a high use material at our place. Here are some other ways we've played with it. Click the  pictures to take you to the activities.

 Length, Measurement & Patterning with Playdough Snakes. Hands-on, Playful Maths for kids.          playdough activity, open ended, sensory activity  toddler, kids, activities for kids, fine motor skills, playdoh, pipe cleaners  play dough, kids activity, science 




Happy playing,
Debs :)


We like to play here as well. Come play with us :)
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