Our cherry tree was blooming so beautifully outside (which it does for only about 5 days before all the blooms are gone - tragic!), but it was freezing and stormy out.  I wanted us all to be able to enjoy the blooms, so I put together this larger scale small world on our splat mat with things I found in our backyard, some of our shells, and four of our larger figurines.  

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The insects are from Wild Republic's Insect Collection Bagand the snake is from Safari Ltd.The snake is actually named "Mama Snake" and for several months when S was around 18 months old, Mama Snake was one of S's most coveted toys.  So much so, in fact, that S slept with Mama Snake at every nap time and at bedtime.  At least a dozen times, while catching the baby video monitor out of the corner of my eye, my heart would skip a beat seeing a giant snake laying next to my prone, sleeping child. :)

In addition to a branch of our beautifully blooming cherry tree, I gathered some fronds from ferns (they're anchored in playdough), some stones, and a piece of driftwood.

Once I got it all set up, S eagerly started playing with Mama Snake.

I'd wanted to do a larger world so that little X could also play and enjoy it.  He's been obsessed with getting INTO our small world bins of late, so I thought this would be something he'd enjoy - and he did!  He gravitated to the fern first and spent quite some time gently touching each of the fronds.

Next he spied Mama Snake and investigated her.

S started playing with the butterfly, flying her all around the little world.  Eventually she landed on the driftwood to rest.

X also examined the driftwood.

After awhile, the butterfly and Mama Snake were tired and they both decided to take a nap in the cherry tree branch.

S then began talking to the ant.  Apparently he needed to set up and decorate for a party, so she helped him move the shells to the driftwood.  I was also called upon to be a fellow decorator.

While S and Ant were busy decorating, X spent some time checking out the cherry blossoms.  He was careful not to wake the slumbering Mama Snake and butterfly.  :)

S is learning nursery rhymes at preschool (she goes twice a week for 2.5 hours) and thought that this big round rock looked like Humpty Dumpty!  Ant was not familiar with the nursery rhyme, so S recited it and acted it out for him with the big round rock starring as Humpty.

Like all the king's horses and all the king's men, Ant couldn't put Humpty together again!

Ant really has an eye for decor, I must say.  Here he's managed to wedge a smaller shell so that it's hanging down.  What a fancy party decoration he's setting up!

With all of us working as a team, we managed to get the driftwood decorated to S's standards.  Here she's giving our work a final inspection.

X is perhaps checking if butterfly is done with her cherry tree branch nap?

Finally, S asked if she could trim the ferns with her scissors to make some final party decorations.  She very carefully cut and arranged several fern leaves.

I thought they looked very pretty, so I had to take a photo of them (of course!).

Some final touches were added to the decor by cutting small blooming twigs.  Everyone was very happy with the beautiful party decorations created by Ant and S.

We had a lot of fun enlarging our small world play for this activity and it ended up being the perfect way to enjoy the effervescent cherry blooms!

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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.


  1. I just love your ideas and am so glad I found this site. :o) I do have a question for you... how do you get X to sit down long enough to examine and investigate? I've tried activities like this with my 10 month old, Seth, but he would rather climb over things it seems. I know this is a part of learning too, but would love to help him focus on these smaller discoveries. Any advice? We do much of our discovery play in his high chair which works well, but I'd love to give him more freedom.

  2. Hi Kim! Thank you! That's such a great question. X has been doing this stuff since forever, so he's sort of conditioned a bit, I think. He knows when we get the white splat mat out or when he sees the tub that something's going to happen and he wants to get in on it, hahaha. We also are at an advantage in that X's older sister is obviously quite an active participant, so that probably does a lot to pique his interest. X also has been delayed with his motor milestones, so he was late to sit up (8 months) and very late to crawl (10+ months), which I'm sure also factors into things. Every week he's a new baby, though - they really change so much. I'd keep trying with something simple, and if you'd like to try the floor vs. the high chair, I'd suggest modeling play yourself. S does most of that for X - she shows him to bang, or squeeze, or whatever - he definitely looks to see what she's up to and mimics her actions. Otherwise for a highly mobile baby, a high chair might be your best bet for encouraging examining/investigating.

  3. Firstly, I love your ideas for keeping little ones occupied and learning! We did some water play recently and my little girl absolutely loved every second.
    I do have to say though that the toy snake pictured here is a model of a very dangerous coral snake (red touches yellow, you're a dead fellow) and where I live in Florida you could actually find one so I would be careful not to introduce toys that are deadly in real life. This may be irrelevant where you live but I thought I'd mention it.

    1. Thank you so much! And you are totally correct!!! We live far away from that species (and luckily have zero poisonous snakes where we are), but it is a very good point!


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