Lost and Found – Small World Play

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Hello! I’m Ness, and I blog at One Perfect Day where I share ideas for learning through play, arts and craft ideas, cooking with kids, children’s books and parenting tips. I am so excited to be guest posting at Imagination Soup. Melissa’s site is my go-to source of information and inspiration for everything related to kids and parenting and I’m honored to be writing here today.

Today, I thought I’d share a small world play scene I created with my 3 year old son, R. This play scene combines two of his favourite things – books and sensory tubs!

R was thrilled when we made this, it really turned out so wonderfully, yet it was actually very quick and easy to put together. My goal when creating this scene was to only use items that we already had in the house. It’s all about using your imagination and making use of what you have on hand. So here is what we created…

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

play tub based on Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

This play scene/sensory tub is based on the Oliver Jeffers book, Lost and Found. Oliver Jeffers is a firm favorite in our home. His sweet, simple stories of friendship and adventure are timeless, and his illustrations are beautiful. Lost and Found centres around a young boy who one day finds a penguin on his doorstep. In his quest to return the penguin to its proper home, the boy discovers that the penguin is not lost but lonely, and a friendship is forged.

Dark and Stormy Night

The two friends share a long boat trip across the ocean to the South Pole. At one point in the story, they face a dark and stormy night. We used cardboard to create a sky and wrapped it around the outside of the tub. We used black cardboard on one side to create a night sky and added white paint and silver pipe cleaners to represent lightning and rain. R especially loved this stormy scene and he made lots of whoosing and zapping noises for the wind and lightning as he “sailed” the boat across the stormy seas.

sensory play tub based on Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

Sailing to the South Pole

The boy and the penguin sail across the ocean to the South Pole. We made the South Pole using a piece of styrofoam which we decorated with glitter paint to give it a snowy icy feel. The little “Welcome to the South Pole” sign was simply hand written on a scrap of paper, decorated with gold glitter glue, and then the whole thing was glued to two tooth picks which we painted red. The toothpicks were inserted into the styrofoam and voila–a sign just like the one on the book.

The ocean is made from blue and green colored rice.

When the boy and penguin take separate journeys, the boy in his boat, and the penguin in the upturned umbrella, they miss each other on either side of an iceberg.

How to Make

We made the iceberg from another piece of styrofoam. The umbrella is a white cupcake case that we colored orange and yellow using colored markers. We then bent a pipe cleaner into a “J” shape for the handle and used adhesive tape to attach it to the cupcake case.

Colored rice is wonderful as a sensory tub material and it’s so easy to make.
Directions: Pour uncooked rice into a zip lock back. Add a few drops of food coloring and 1 or 2 teaspoons of rubbing alcohol. Seal the zip lock bag and mix until the color is evenly spread. Leave the rice out in the sun to dry and then it’s ready to use.

The boat is simply a small milk carton that has been washed out, with the side cut off. We painted it white and then painted a red stripe around the edge. Simple! The oars are popsicle sticks and we cut out some brown paper and glued them to the ends of the popsicle sticks to make the paddles. The two friends pack a suitcase to take with them on their journey. For our play scene, we used a plastic suitcase from one of our lego sets.

The boy is a toilet paper roll. We painted the top half in a light skin tone color and painted on his nose and eyes. To create this skin tone we mixed red, orange and white paint. His jumper was simply red and white striped paint, and we painted two thin lines for his legs. The beautiful simplicity of Oliver Jeffers illustrations means they are easy to recreate for a project like this. The boy’s hat was much simpler to make than it looks. It’s a paper napkin, wrapped around the top of the toilet paper roll and tied with a rubber band to make the pom pom on top.

The penguin was made using a styrofoam egg which we had left over from our Easter crafts. So that he could stand up, I used a knife to cut the bottom off the egg shape and make it flat. We painted him black, leaving an oval free of pain on his chest. We added a small orange line of paint on his chest. His feet and beak are simply scraps of orange paper which have been glued on, then add a couple of googly eyes and you’re done!

sensory play tub based on Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

Creating a small world play scene based on your children’s favorite books helps to foster their love of reading and brings the books to life. It builds a child’s imagination and extends language and story telling skills as well. This project was a lovely way for R and I to spend time together – creating, imagining and learning.

I would like to say thank you to Melissa once again for inviting me to provide a guest post at Imagination Soup. If you have enjoyed this post, I would love for you to visit One Perfect Day at our Facebook Page where we are always sharing new ways to play, learn, create and explore!

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  1. The photos are great to see. The images show a great arts and crafts. I think you have a good talent on creating unique arts. Indeed, making arts and crafts together with your kids is really nice because you can be able to develop your skills of your kids and this is a great bonding time.

  2. This is such a cute way of experiencing a book and it really helps a child with reading comprehension to be able to act it out. Great idea and making the set looks fun too!