The Snail and the Whale- Tray Activity
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Of all Julia Donaldson’s brilliant children’s books, The Snail and the Whale is my absolute favourite. It lends itself so well to messy play, too, so I didn’t need asking twice to set it up in the mixing tray- loving this resource- CrazyGadget Children Kids Tuff Spot Colour Mixing Tray Large Plastic for Playing Toy Sand Pool Pit Water Game Animal Figures etc. – MADE IN UK (Blue)
To set up, we focussed on two main scenes: the “towering icebergs and far-off lands” and the emergency rescue of the whale, towards the end of the story. There is so much to explore: volcanos, forests, deep sea… it really could be unpacked in several different ways, and as part of several different topic areas.
We made the icebergs from recycling materials; cardboard avocado packaging with cotton wool stuck on. Cardboard and recycling generally is such a great, budget resource for crafts and messy play- if you are on pinterest, head over to the Rabbit Ideas Cardboard Activities board for more inspiration!
For the beach scene; we used sand from the outdoor sand pit, shaving foam with blue food colouring mixed into it and a stick to mix it. Little is going through a phase of not enjoying having messy hands! As well as using our usual model animals (a great toy investment- so versatile!) Schleich Emperor Penguin with Chick we found a knitted finger puppet snail to include in the tale. This was lovely at first, but once Big got home from school and ‘joined in’ we got really into it and the woollen snail was put through it’s paces!
This book is a great adventure tale, and could easily be used to explain concepts such as courage, bravery and making a positive contribution, to young children. Setting it up as a tuff tray or messy play activity can help engage even very young children in the story, allowing them to explore it at their own pace. Sometimes, I read the story to the children as they are playing, which is a lovely way to spend time together and develop listening skills, too.
I love this story, both as a way for learning about the wider world with the kids, and as someone who would identify with the ‘snail with an itchy foot’ herself! The adventurous spirit of the snail and desire to share her tales with the others are such positive characteristics, which adds a depth to this children’s story. Like all the best picture books, it can be read on several different levels and speaks of so much more than the basics of the plot.
Have you read The Snail and the Whale? What activities have you chosen to do with it?
*Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links to products similar to ones we have used. If you purchase though the links, I may receive a small percentage of the profits to support the running of this blog. This will not affect the cost of the products to the buyer.