Safari Ltd sent us a TOOB free of charge at my request. My review of their products is not swayed by this as I already loved them!
One of the most classic subjects for a small world is the ocean. Full of amazing, interesting, and often cute creatures - oceans are full of wonder for toddlers and preschoolers. An ocean is a great setting for some small world imaginative play! When I think of oceans, I think of sand, shells, and beautiful blue water. Rather than just fill a tub with blue water, though, I wanted to come up with something a little more creative. To stay true to my goal with my Simple Small Worlds series, I wanted to keep prep and materials to a minimum.
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We had SO much fun with our fizzing treasure rocks during our Find the Leprechaun's Gold Hunt - it gave me the idea to make some baking soda dough and shape it like shells around several of the Ocean TOOB creatures.
I promise that this is SUPER easy. Really. In fact, I did it in less than five minutes as I was needing to pick S up from preschool! You will need to make the dough/baking soda shells a day in advance, though, to give them time to dry and harden. That's the only hard part!
To make baking soda dough, you just need baking soda and water. I used two boxes of baking soda to make six shells.
Once you've emptied the baking soda into the bowl, add just enough water that the dough is crumbly. Err on the side of too little water. Here I could have actually done a little less - so think of the below picture as showing you the maximum amount of water to add. :)
After that, I took six of the Ocean TOOB figures and using a shell as a reference point, made the general shape of a shell by hand (this took about 15 seconds per "shell") and then placed the shells on a sheet of wax paper. After making the shape, I used the back of a real shell to make some grooves like the shells I was planning to use in the small world. Like I said, the whole thing took less than five minutes - I happened to be watching a clock. I hope a lot of you will give these a try because they are just so much fun.
One of my favorite things about the Safari Ltd TOOBS is that they have natural groupings that lend themselves to both cohesive small world play and to learning about different groups of animals. I knew that the Ocean TOOB would include a sea lion, eagle ray, starfish, two turtles, penguin, octopus, moray eel, humpback whale, sperm whale, hammerhead shark, tiger shark, and a dolphin - so I headed to the library last weekend and picked up a variety of both fiction and non-fiction books on those animals. When she saw the small world, S was able to identify a few of the animals because of the reading we'd done, which was pretty cool!
So for the set-up, I set out our splat mat and filled our plastic storage bin with the now dry baking soda shells, several different shells,the glass gems I used in Frog World (we found ours at the Dollar Store), and the remaining Ocean TOOB animals.
S was already so excited that she sat down to play for a few minutes before she realized - "wait, Mama, where's the water? Shouldn't there be water in the ocean?"
To get the "ocean" started, I provided her with four squeeze bottles full of blue vinegar. I used four drops of blue food coloring per bottle, though you could absolutely use liquid watercolors. In fact, I would have used Colorations Liquid Watercolors, only our blue (from the tropical series) is really more of a green-blue, and I had my heart set on a bright blue ocean. :)
I instructed her to use the squirt bottles on the white shells to see what happened. She gleefully went to work dissolving the first shell...which revealed a turtle!
After removing each animal, she loved squirting more vinegar to watch them fizz and "to clean them off".
Moving on to the next shell!
"A cute little penguin, Mama!"
This one had the best reveal! The octopus' eyes peeking out as its shell dissolved were cracking me up.
"Ooh! Mama! A ray!" Once S was finished finding all the hidden creatures, I added several containers of water from our sink to make the "ocean" a bit deeper.
After all the shells were dissolved, the baking soda doubled as "white sand" at the bottom of her ocean world. She smoothed out the "sand" and kept commenting on how soft it was. I couldn't resist playing in it myself, and she was right! The baking soda is silky smooth at the bottom. We could even write and make designs in it, which was fun.
S found out that adding some of the residual vinegar in the squeeze bottles would still make little foamy eruptions, so she used every last drop of the blue vinegar. :)
Here S was helping the whale swim over to his friends on the other side of the ocean.
We had so much fun with this world! S played with it for almost 3 hours and declared it "the best project you've ever thought of, Mama!"
You can also read about our other Simple Small Worlds:
Safari Ltd TOOB Giveaway is now closed.
Click the photo below to buy it on Amazon or click here to read more about our book!
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All activities here are activities I feel are safe for my own children. As your child's parents/guardians, you will need to decide what you feel is safe for your family. I always encourage contacting your child's pediatrician for guidance if you are not sure about the safety/age appropriateness of an activity. All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies). Observe caution and safety at all times. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.
Well I want to play in the ocean now! Now Following Safari Ltd on Facebook! Thanks for so many awesome ideas!ReplyDelete
Hi Sue! Hahahaha! Each separate comment is counted as an entry, so be sure to leave the "Now Following Safari Ltd on Facebook" as a separate entry!Delete
I always look forward to your posts--such great ideas---my little guy loves to play with water and I think this would be awesome!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Christianna! I agree with your little guy - playing with water is always fun! :)Delete
I'm also following you on Facebook!ReplyDelete
Now following Safari Ltd on Facebook...and there goes 15 minutes...so much stuff on there!ReplyDelete
I know, right? I love all their stuff!!!Delete
"Now Following Safari Ltd on Facebook"ReplyDelete
"Now Following Fun At Home With Kids on Facebook"ReplyDelete
I want to enter the giveaway!ReplyDelete
You are entered x3! Good luck! :)Delete
My 4 year old and I love this idea. We read the post together, and she wants to do it RIGHT NOW!! Love it!ReplyDelete
:) It's got S's seal of approval, so I think you can't go wrong.Delete
Totally following Fun at home with kids on FB!!ReplyDelete
Whoop whoop! Following safari ltd on FB!ReplyDelete
Awesome! Soooo many awesome dinos on there.... :)Delete
We LOVE the toob animals and already have a bunch...but not the ocean animals! I loved your idea and will for sure be replicating it for my kids :ReplyDelete
The TOOB animals are so addictive, right? Glad you liked the idea and hope it's as big of a hit at your house as it was here! :)Delete
And now I am following you on FBReplyDelete
Yay! Thank you!Delete
Looks like a blast! I so want to win this!ReplyDelete
It was! Good luck! :)Delete
also like fun at home with kids on facebook!ReplyDelete
ALSO like Safari Ltd on facebook!ReplyDelete
I love this idea!!! Andy loves playing with baking soda and vinegar, and I'd never thought of shaping baking soda to hide objects! Brilliant!!ReplyDelete
You just can't beat baking soda and vinegar, right? We have a whole drawer in our kitchen dedicated to storing boxes of baking soda and jugs of vinegar, hahahaha. I bet he'll love it! It's a super fun twist on the classic. :)Delete
Looks like so much fun my kids would LOVE this project. Always looking for something fun to do with my kids. But, how long does the vinegar Smell stay on your child?Delete
I didn't notice a lingering smell at all! Especially since it was diluted with water ultimately, there wasn't much of a scent even during play. Hope that helps! :)Delete
I also like Safari Ltd. (and Fun at Home With Kids) on Facebook!ReplyDelete
Following Safari Ltd. and Fun at home with kids on facebook. I like the ocean world. My little sister lives sea creatures!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Tori! Good luck!Delete
I am following Fun at Home With Kids and Safari Ltd. kn Facebook. I like the ocean world a loy. My little sister loves ocean creatures.ReplyDelete
Thanks for following!Delete
I actually have almost everything to do this already! Just missing the TOOB Ocean animals!ReplyDelete
Awesome! I am trying to use common things and/or repeat elements in the Simple Small worlds so hopefully that happens more and more often. :) And I think the girls will love the ocean world - it's SO fun!!!Delete
I follow Safari Ltd on twitter.ReplyDelete
Love the shell idea but I don't think I could get past the smell of the vinegar. Is there such a thing as an odorless vinegar?ReplyDelete
Hahaha - I know what you mean! S didn't mind at all, and it did get MUCH better once I diluted with all the water, for what it's worth.Delete
I have been following you on Facebook and talking about you to friends. I think I've gotten you a couple of followers :)ReplyDelete
Yay! Thank you! I love getting more fans/followers!!!!! :) :) :)Delete
I actually have two different questions for you. How can I email you? I am soo excited about your blog...just redid my basement and am in the process of purchasing things for the climbing wall/the haba ship and the rings for my four kids ages 4 and under! YAY sooo exciting thank you!
Hi adh384! OHMYGOSH - that's SOOOOO COOL! Your kids (and their friends!) will be in heaven. :)Delete
You can email me at email@example.com or you can message me via our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FunAtHomeWithKids).
And this comment also enters you in the contest! :)
No problem! :)Delete
I am following Fun at Home With Kids and Safari Ltd. on Facebook.ReplyDelete
Awesome x2! :)Delete
sorry also like Safari on facebook!!ReplyDelete
Love love love reading your blog! Always inspirational!ReplyDelete
Awww, thank you so much, Crystal!!!!! :)Delete
Now following Safari Ltd on Facebook!ReplyDelete
Already following Fun At Home With Kids on Facebook!ReplyDelete
I've been following you and loving your ideas for a whileReplyDelete
Thanks, Simply Nely!!! :)Delete
We did this today and my kids ended up IN the water they wanted to squish the 'sand' with their toes!!! It was really fun! Thx for the ideaReplyDelete
That's so cute! The sand *is* really soft, so I can't say that I blame them!!! :)Delete
This is a *great* idea! Definitely going to try this. :-)ReplyDelete
Hi Maureen! Thank you and awesome! I hope it will be a big hit!Delete
And... I follow you on FB! :)ReplyDelete
I "like" Fun at Home with Kids on Facebook :DReplyDelete
AWESOME! I can't wait to try this at home with my kiddos!ReplyDelete
Yay! I hope they have a blast, too!Delete
I "like" Safari Ltd. on Facebook :DReplyDelete
This is so cool! I love using baking soda and vinegar and never thought to make things with the baking soda! Brilliant!ReplyDelete
It is so much fun! They hold up so well - the reveal is nice and slow and dramatic! :) We've had lots of fun with the idea!!!!Delete
I am following Fun at Home with Kids on Facebook!ReplyDelete
I also like Safari on Facebook!ReplyDelete
We love Safari Toobs and I was just about to order another set to fill up our plastic easter eggs (they usually fit perfectly by the way). I am anxious to try this with my daughter. I need a waterproof mat like yours.....ReplyDelete
Hi Valerie! We do that with Easter eggs, too! Miniatures last so much longer than candy. :) We just do 2 yards of oilcloth (as opposed to a finished splat mat). Works fabulously! Before that we did a waterproof disposable tablecloth, but that wore through more quickly. The oilcloth is SUPER strong and hardy. :)Delete
I am already a fan of Fun At Home With Kids on facebook.ReplyDelete
and I'm now a fan of Safari, LTD on facebook as well. my address is vkutansky at hotmail.comReplyDelete
I want in on this!ReplyDelete
I liked fun at home with kids on FacebookReplyDelete
I like safari ltd on FacebookReplyDelete
Great idea! I like to baking soda idea.ReplyDelete
Now Following Fun At Home With Kids on Facebook.ReplyDelete
Now Following Safari Ltd on Facebook.ReplyDelete
We would love to have our own ocean at home! Thanks for the opportunity!ReplyDelete
Now Following Fun At Home With Kids on Facebook! Thanks!ReplyDelete
Now Following Safari Ltd on Facebook! Thanks!!ReplyDelete
Hi! Just found your site through Pinterest, I love all of your ideas, and especially your focus on keeping the set up as streamlined as possible! Anyways, I would love a toob, and am now off to follow you on FB and Pinterest! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.ReplyDelete
Hi Anne! I'm so glad you found me (love that Pinterest!!!), and thank you so much for the kind words! You are entered in the contest and be sure to leave two additional comments: one for following me on FB and one more for following Safari Ltd (if you choose to do so)Delete
Now following you on FB!ReplyDelete
Aaaand now following Safari LTD on fb!ReplyDelete
I just found your blog and I am in love!! I plan on following you obsessively from now on. I have a very active and curious three-year-old boy who also happens to be on the spectrum - so far the ideas I have read here sound so perfect for engaging and expanding his creativity. I am really so excited to learn more. And of course I wanted to enter the giveaway. :)ReplyDelete
Hi Jessica! I'm so glad you found the blog! Oh, I bet he will love some of these activities. :) Sensory play is awesome like that. And consider yourself entered in the giveaway! :)Delete
Now Following Fun At Home With Kids on Facebook - yay!ReplyDelete
Now Following Safari Ltd on Facebook!ReplyDelete
Great idea! So fun and educational!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Maggie -- Mae!Delete
Now Following Safari Ltd on Facebook (Jaymee Houser, Google account Maggie--Mae)ReplyDelete
Now Following Fun at home with kids on Facebook (Jaymee Houser, Google account Maggie--Mae)ReplyDelete
We love TOOBS! Thanks for the great ideas in this post! Tupperfrannie@Gmail.comReplyDelete
TOOBS are awesome! You're welcome! :)Delete
Following fun at home on fbReplyDelete
Thank you! :)Delete
We follow safari Ltd on fbReplyDelete
Following u on FBReplyDelete
Yay! Thank you!Delete
Id.love to enterReplyDelete
You are entered x3! Good luck! :)Delete
Starting these for my 3 water babies, the baking soda hidden treasures are fantastic!ReplyDelete
Oh, yay! I hope that they love them as much as we do! :)Delete
following fun at home with kids on fbReplyDelete
following safari ltd on fbReplyDelete
This is a really cool site :) Thanks for the giveawayReplyDelete
est 4679 (at) gmail (dot) com
Thank you, Davis! :)Delete
I already follow Safari on FBReplyDelete
est 4679 (at) gmail (dot ) com
I found this idea via Pinterest and LOVE it! I can't wait to try it out with my little one. I'm also way excited to have discovered it in time to enter the giveaway.ReplyDelete
Hi Diedre! Pinterest is rocking my world. :) So glad you found my blog and awesome that you made it in time for the giveaway - we're down to the final 13 hours now! :)Delete
Now Following Fun At Home With Kids on Facebook. So excited to get to see all the other fun things you do!ReplyDelete
Yay! And thank you! :)Delete
Now Following Safari Ltd on Facebook.ReplyDelete
I love this activity so much! I actually went out and bought some Safari animals and planes based on your recommendation. It's what I put in my son's Easter eggs. We also now call them our "guys". My little boy is so obsessed with them. He's been playing with them every day and even takes a few to bed with him at night. This set is next on my list!ReplyDelete
That's so awesome, Sam! S got the Pets TOOB in her Easter eggs. :) Glad we've got a new little one hooked on "guys". S also used to sleep with them when she was his age! Ah, memories...Delete
Hi Asia - I was inspired by this post to do our own version. Thank you! http://craftulate.blogspot.com/2013/08/magic-dissolving-abc-rocks.htmlReplyDelete
LOVE it, Georgina!!!!! So clever!Delete
I am so excited to try this for my daughters ocean party on Monday. Can you or anyone else tell me how hard the baking soda dough gets and how long it takes to dry? I need to start these tonight. Thank you for any help.ReplyDelete
Hi Karen! YES, start them ASAP. They ideally need about 24 hours to dry, but get them as close as you can. If you make them right now and they sit out overnight they should be pretty hardy. They'll be more hardy after a full 24, but just move them gently tomorrow for the party and it shouldn't be a problem. Good luck and happy birthday to your daughter!Delete
We are studying O is for Ocean in preschool next week and THIS is our primary project. With 12 kids the vinegar smell will be ...amazing???? Nonetheless, we are plunging ahead and can hardly wait.ReplyDelete
Hahahaha. You can add some Kool Aid or some peppermint oil drops to the vinegar and it will mask the smell. :)Delete
Thank you for this sensory bin idea! I've been looking for some shell activities as I bought a small basket of shells yesterday. I was already thinking about an Ocean Sensory bin but your fizzy idea takes it to the next level! Love it!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much! I hope everyone enjoys it! :)Delete