After the success of my beach sensory tub, I remembered an idea that I'd had for a long time - to make a Dinosaur Island small world play scene for a long time, ever since I saw this amazing Dinosaur Island post over on the wonderful Filth Wizardry.
I looked it up again when I was writing this post and I was surprised to see how many elements I'd included in my own Dinosaur Island - it was obviously all stuck there in my head somewhere! So here is how I made Harry and Mia their very own Dinosaur Island.
For the base I used the lid from our sand and water tray. Something like a tuff spot (affiliate link) would also have worked really well, although there would have been a lot more space to fill.
I made some playdough (using this simple recipe from The Imagination Tree) with plenty of black food dye for a volcano centerpiece. I used some red and yellow shredded paper left over from Easter baskets for the lava. Then I placed a shallow plate filled with water for a lake, and the rest of the island was built around that.
To fill the rest of the tray I used some black dyed rice around the volcano which was leftover from our firework sensory tub. That meant that it did have stars and glitter in it, but that didn't matter! Then I made a beach with some cheap mashed potato mix, and added porridge oats and shredded wheat to make some different areas on the tray. I put some stones at one end and some green shredded paper for vegetation. I had also bought some value noodles, so I cooked up a few and put them in a shallow bowl to one side.
The scene was finished with all our plastic dinosaurs, some of which were mine when I was little!
Harry played with Dinosaur Island for a long time. He was surprisingly tidy, which was nice after all my hard work. He told me that he was 'making up stories', and I eavesdropped on a few which was wonderful. His favourite part was the volcano, and he liked how he could make dinosaur footprints in the playdough.
While Harry was playing with it I occupied Mia on the floor with some of the dry materials and some pots to pour things in and out of. I didn't want to let her anywhere near it! But after a few days when Harry was finished with it I let Mia at it. She enjoyed playing with it too although the dinosaur significance was lost on her, she just enjoyed grabbing handfuls of everything, filling up the volcano and throwing it all about.
If you are interested in making sensory tubs or small world sensory play then you might like this post that I wrote on my other blog which is all about sensory tubs for toddlers and has links to lots of resources. You might also like to see this tray repurposed for gardening themed sensory play.