Safari Ltd provided me with their Insect TOOB free of charge, but all opinions expressed in this post are my own and were not influenced by the free product since I already loved their products!
One of the things that S and I find super fascinating about insects is their ability to walk on walls! It's always so impressive to watch them scale the walls of whatever container we've placed them in for observation - so I wanted to bring that element into this small world. To that end, I cut strips of contact paper and lined the inside walls of the world with it. I flipped each strip sticky side up and used scotch tape along the edges to keep it in place. It really added a cool element to the small world, I think. (A roll of contact paper is around $5 and you can read about some other ways that we've played with it here, here, and here.)
Insects are everywhere, in all sorts of different environments, so this is a great small world to make with gathered natural materials from the yard/surrounding areas of your house. Whether you live in a forest like us, or near a beach, or in a big city, a rural area, or a desert - any of the materials you find outside are things that make up your insects' environment!
For the materials in the bin, I took a walk around the perimeter of our house and gathered interesting supplies. I clipped a branch off one of our Western Red Cedar trees, grabbed some cool looking large stones, and a patch of moss.
Though you can absolutely use dirt from outside (or grass or whatever other material!), I like to "recycle" our old coffee grinds into "dirt" because I feel like the grounds are less messy and look prettier than real dirt. My system for accumulating used coffee grounds is to lay the wet grounds flat on a sheet pan and let them air dry for 24 hours. From there I transfer them to an open Gladware container. You could also dry them in the oven on very low heat if you wanted to be faster about it. You'll see me use our coffee ground dirt in other posts (I just haven't written them up yet). It also doesn't hurt that they smell faintly of coffee. Yum.
I also grabbed some smaller polished stones that I'd bought a bag of (I think at the Dollar Store?) and keep in a container for sensory play to add some more detail to the world.
S really enjoyed the sticky walls and had lots of fun sticking and unsticking the various bugs.
I liked the different textural elements in the world - hard stones, scaly tree branch, gritty coffee ground dirt, and soft moss.
Here caterpillar is going for a little walk. He's thinking he might want to climb the wall!
There he goes! We love that Safari Ltd miniatures are perfectly sized for little hands.
The colors are so vibrant and the models are so realistic. This is the only way I'd let S touch a centipede! In real life those suckers are mean!!!!
S enjoyed taking all the little bugs on a tour of their environment.
After taking turns with most of the insects, she decided that centipede was her favorite (probably because she isn't allowed to hold the real creatures).
Here she's having a heart-to-heart with centipede about reforming his aggressive biting ways (did you know that a real centipede bite is rumored to be comparable to a bee sting? Ouch!). She told me he'd decided to be nice to her and his other insect friends and was not going to bite! She played with him for around an hour. And I'm happy to report that, true to his word, he did not bite her. ;)
S was so enamored with the two butterflies that came in the Insect TOOB that they'd (earlier) flown away to another area of our house and we almost forgot to include them in our photo shoot! So we decided they would make a quick visit to insect world before Mama put away her camera. Here they're sunning themselves on the rocks. With such vibrantly colored wings, it's no wonder S spirited them away!
The cohesive groups of creatures presented in Safari Ltd TOOBS always inspire me to incorporate books with our small world play. Here's S investigating a book from our insect book round-up. :)
You can read about our other Simple Small Worlds here: