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'Dear Zoo' Sensory Play

Dear Zoo Sensory Book Play, Tuff Tray Book Play

One of the great things about books is how versatile they are. Once your little one starts to recognise a particular book, you can use it as the basis for puppet shows, story bags, baking, craft, sensory play and much more to get their imaginations going and encourage their recall memory. We recently used the well loved ‘Dear Zoo’ book to inspire some sensory play which was great fun!

My daughter and her friends loved all the textures, naming the animals and making the animal sounds…as well as eating a few oats! It gives the book a new dimension and since sensory play encourages cognitive development, it is worth the effort to put together, and clear up! We used some wooden blocks to section off the animals and then found a variety of materials around the house for the zoo.


- Our frogs had a pool of blue and green tissue paper, cotton wool and bubble wrap to make a swampy pond

- our camel and giraffes had some sand to play in,

- our dog had a felt bed and some of the packaging from our ‘Gousto’ subscription box (they actually encourage you to use their packaging for crafts rather than just throw it away!),

- our elephants had some tasty porridge oats to roll around in,

- our lions had some artificial grass to hide in,

- our monkeys had some trees to swing from, and

- finally, our snake had some colourful tissue paper so he could blend in with his environment!


You can get creative with whatever you have at home to give your little one confidence with different textures. Lentils, cereals, and rice are all great alternatives which you are likely to have in your cupboard. As for the animals themselves, we used soft toys, puzzle pieces, plastic and wooden animals to add to the variety of textures available in the tuff tray. Why not pick up your littles ones favourite book and see what you have around the house to make your own sensory tuff tray?! Other great book themes for sensory play are ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, and ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’.

Like with books, sensory play encourages language development. Actively playing with your little one whilst they explore will also benefit their social interaction whilst they are busy working on their fine and gross motor skills. Zara and I both love sensory play as well as doing crafts together so books will continue to be a basis for our creativity together at home.

If you want to try ‘Dear Zoo’ at home, why not take a look at our zoo themed Storybox? Normally part of our subscription package, but until the end of April we are releasing it in our shop to purchase as a one-off gift.

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