• Playing at home with Life Cycles

    We are getting ready to head back to school in a few weeks. This school year will surely be one for the books! Whether your child is attending in person, virtually or starting homeschool, there are so many ways to use educational toys to support their learning! Today, I am sharing 4 simple ways to play with the Safari Ltd. life cycle sets.

    We created DIY puzzles for the frog, chicken and butterfly life cycles! I also set up some sensory play with each! Read below to learn how you can play and learn with the life cycle sets at home.

     

    life cycles

     

    Activity #1: Life Cycle Puzzles

     

    frog life cycle

     

    Materials: 
    • Cardboard
    • Pencil
    • Scissors
    • Black permanent marker
    • Colored markers
    • Safari Ltd. life cycle sets

     

    butterfly life cycle-1

    How to: 

    First, cut a large circle out of cardboard for each puzzle. You can trace something like a plate or bowl to make your circle shape. Use a pencil to divide each circle into sections, one for each step of the life cycle. Cut the circle into pieces.

    Next, use your markers and permanent marker to complete your puzzle. On each wedge, write the name of the stage of the life cycle, the number of that stage/step, and draw a picture. You can also print pictures from your computer and tape or glue them onto your puzzle pieces. 

    Once your puzzle is complete, your child can use their Safari Ltd. life cycle figurines to help them assemble the steps in order. They can also match the figurines to the puzzle pieces as they play!

     

    chicken life cycle

     

    Activity #2: Frog Life Cycle Sensory Play

     

    frog sensory play

     

    Materials: 
    • Safari Ltd. Frog Life Cycle
    • Water beads
    • Blue food coloring
    • Tools for scooping and pouring
    • Small containers and cups

     

    How To: 

    Water beads are a great way to play with your frog life cycle! Water beads typically come dehydrated. Follow instructions on your package to soak them in water until they are ready to play! We used blue, green and white water beads. I also added a few drops of blue food coloring to our water.

    Once hydrated, I placed the water beads and some water in a large bin with our frog life cycle toys, some scoops and cups. I love this kind of open-ended play! You can support your child’s vocabulary development by talking to them as they play and asking questions. Model and encourage them to use the correct terms for the different parts of the frog life cycle!

     

    frog sensory play for toddlers

     

    Activity #3: Chicken Life Cycle Sensory Play

     

    Chicken Life Cycle Sensory Play

     

    Materials: 

     

    • Safari Ltd. Chicken Life Cycle
    • An empty, cardboard milk carton
    • Scissors
    • Red and white acrylic paint
    • Paint brush
    • Uncooked rice
    • Uncooked pasta (we used rotini noodles)
    • A large plastic tub/container

     

    How To: 

     

    The first thing I did for our chicken sensory play was create a barn. I cut the bottom off of an empty cardboard milk carton. After washing and drying it, I also cut a hole in the front as a door. I painted the carton with red acrylic paint (several coats) and then added details with white paint.

    Next, pour your rice and rotini pasta into a large, shallow plastic tub. We use a plastic box (designed to be kept under the bed) for sensory play! The multiple textures of the rice and pasta add a fun element to this play.

    Place your barn, Safari Ltd. chicken life cycle figurines and some small bowls and spoons to your bin. We also added a truck! Talk to your kids and ask questions as they play to encourage them to use vocabulary like nest, eggs, chicks and hatch!

     

    farm sensory play

     

    Activity 3: Butterfly Life Cycle Playdough Kit

     

    Butterfly Life Cycle Playdough Kit

     

     

    Materials and Ingredients: 

     

    • Safari Ltd. Butterfly Life Cycle
    • Flour 
    • Salt
    • Vegetable oil
    • Cream of tartar
    • Water
    • Green food coloring
    • Cocoa powder
    • Faux leaves and plants
    • Beads, small flowers, other decorations

     

    How To: 

     

    Begin by making your playdough! I made two batches of dough here, one green and one brown. Both follow the same process outlined below. For the green dough, add green food coloring. For the brown dough, add about ? cup of cocoa powder for color!

     

    Basic Playdough recipe: 2 cups flour, ? cup salt, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 3 tsp cream of tartar, 2 cups of water. 

     

    Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a pan and whisk to combine. Be sure to break up as many flour lumps as you can while whisking. When I am adding food coloring, I often add the coloring to the water and then pour it into my dough mixture. This helps to spread your color out! Add as much color as you like, but the color will darken some as the dough cooks. 

     

    Step 2: Cook on medium heat on your stove top. Stir very frequently (almost constantly). As you stir, scrape across the bottom of your pan with your spoon. The dough will slowly start to form a ball in the center of your pan as you scrape and stir. Continue cooking until the dough ball no longer appears wet. This usually takes 6-8 minutes, but could vary depending on your stove and pan.

     

    Step 3: Lay out a piece of parchment paper and dump the cooked dough ball onto it. Allow the dough to cool in a ball for about 5 minutes. Once it is cool enough to touch, begin to knead the dough with your hands. Knead for about 5 minutes to help smooth out any lumps and soften your dough. 

     

    Step 4: Flatten the dough into a pancake (2-3” thick) and cover with another piece of parchment paper. Allow the dough to cool completely. Once totally cooled you can play with it! When you are not playing with your dough, keep it in an air-tight container or zipper bag. Properly stored dough can be used for around 6 months!

     

    Once your dough is finished, add it to your play dough kit with your Safari Ltd. Butterfly Life Cycle, faux leaves and flowers, beads and any other items you want! I love using these boxes from Ikea for playdough kits. This is a great way to play with your butterfly life cycle. Your kids can create butterfly gardens and talk about the different stages of metamorphosis as they play!

     

    organizing educational toys

     

     

     

    This post is by Emily Limer. Emily is a preschool teacher and mom of two toddlers who love to play with Safari Ltd. animals! You can follow her on Instagram @makingwithmommy for more kids craft and play ideas.

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