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Learning by Playing – Animals and Habitats

Pretend play, I've observed, is close to every child's heart.

Trying out new roles by creating different situations from the world around them, makes them enter a fantasy world. This type of fantasy play gives wings to their fertile imagination and helps them learn concepts and words and ideas without they even being aware that they are actually learning.

Pretend play is a favourite play in our home. Give Pari an idea to role-play 'somebody' and she's ready to play even in the middle of the night! Recently, I suggested her to create 'habitats' for different type of animals and living beings and then be a caretaker of her reserve-park/sanctuary.

Everyday, I read her the Grolier book series "I wonder Why" that talks about extinct and endangered animals, habitats, animal kingdom classification and – "the biggest", "the tallest", "the longest", "the heaviest"of animals, birds, insects etc.

This recent pretend play about 'habitats' was a great reinforcement of all that I read to her and also a great way to integrate reading, playing and learning.

Collecting creatures, foliage and knick knack for her habitat turned out to be an amazing exercise in itself.

She undertook a massive hunt around the house as she went about picking up toy animals, birds, creepy crawlies, under-water creatures, foliage, fence and what have you – in every size and form – from closets, store room, living room, bed room and every possible corner of the house – to create the make-believe habitats and their dwellers.

The hunt encouraged imagination and creativity. Finding them all – in one cabinet – in a ready-to-make sort of way would have been boring and least challenging.

The sea creatures were her own handmade ones from last year's card board aquarium project.

The base for the habitat was created using blue and green tea towels and place-mats

The blue crepe paper served as Oasis in the desert.

The colourful crystal stones were salvaged from the coffee table tray.

The farm animals – the horse and the piggy were actually money/coin banks.

The blocks served as fence for the farm animals

Her green and blue hair bands were used as Coral Reefs.

The butterfly was recycled from an old key-ring.


  • Once the animals and birds and sea creatures were safe in their habitat, I went to her as a visitor.
  • She – 'the sanctuary caretaker and forest officer' explained to me why and where each creature lives, what they eat, how they sleep etc.
  • She also asked me to watch how the Lion was tip-toing the Zebra and went for the kill. Poor zebra – she orchestrated his fall! Sad… He's one of my favourite animal…
  • I alerted her to observe how the monkeys raise alarm call when any of the predators – Lion, Tiger, Leopard is anywhere close to the grass-eating animals. 
  • We discussed about water holes, Oasis, animals that live on land as well as water, coral reefs.
  • We discussed why Giraffes have long necks. She tried to make the Giraffe drink water but her Giraffe wouldn't stand! Exasperated, she made him sleep.
  • Empathizing with the Giraffe's difficulty in drinking water, she quipped, how lucky the Elephant is to have a trunk!

Bonus – a great photo-shoot opportunity for the budding photographer in her. 

I had been clicking pictures all along. Toward the end, she clicked some pictures, too. Yeah, she's extremely fond of clicking. Good and bad! Good for her creativity but bad for me – well, in a way – because she's always grabbing my camera and I never have a peaceful moment to shoot. Shie…

This play kept her fully engrossed and buzzing with happiness for a good two hours or more!

Could it have been more satisfying, playful and meaningful!

No wonder, play is the most powerful tool for learning that we simply cannot choose to ignore or rubbish. 

And, let's not forget – play is every child's birth right.

What is your child playing today? :)


I'm linking this post to these wonderful blogs that share a love for play for their children.

Let the Children Play

The Imagination Tree

Hands On: As we Grow

Messy Kids

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • clo April 28, 2011, 5:25 pm

    I just love her imagination it always make me smile!

    • Rashmie Jaaju April 29, 2011, 3:08 am

      Thanks, Clo. I too wonder how kids can soar higher and lighter on the wings of their imagination.
      Wish, we adults could do the same..! But then, that’s why they are kids!

  • Emreen April 28, 2011, 6:36 pm

    Looks like both mom and gal had a gala time together…!! It’s always a fascination to watch young kids play ….!!

    • Rashmie Jaaju April 29, 2011, 3:09 am

      Thanks, Emreen! Yeah, we had hours of fun – she playing and I -watching her play and then joining in as a visitor! :))

  • Natalie April 28, 2011, 9:36 pm

    Visiting from Playtime – Pari has an amazing imagination. I tried to orchestrate similar games with my daughter, but she wants me to build habitats and observe what I am doing. She is 4.5, perhaps she will get more into it when she is older.

    • Rashmie Jaaju April 29, 2011, 3:13 am

      Welcome to Mommy Labs :)
      Thank you for visiting and sharing your thought. I just hopped over to your blog and it was nice to see how you engage your daughter. She’s a wonderful, inquisitive child.
      Yeah, she will want to do things more and more on her own a few months down the line. And then, she will ask YOU to observe while she’s at it! :))

  • jenny @ let the children play April 29, 2011, 1:18 pm

    Wonderful, creative, imaginative play!

    • Rashmie Jaaju May 1, 2011, 6:22 am

      Jenny, welcome to Mommy Labs :)
      Thank you, dear, for being here and for the opportunity to link up in the “Let’s Play” showcase…

  • Param April 30, 2011, 6:51 am

    Dear Rashmie, another very interesting role play by Pari. Simply superb.

    • Rashmie Jaaju April 30, 2011, 11:14 am

      Param, my friend, thank you for being here. You are ever so supportive… :)

  • Melissa September 18, 2011, 6:52 am

    Hello! I am helping a terribly underfunded horse rescue/shelter, Begin Again Farms, in Ellerslie, Ga, raise money. Would you help us out by sharing our link with your readers?
    The horses and I thank you! :)

    BTW- Contact me to put together a free online fundraiser for your favorite shelter!!