An Invitation to Play: Animal Carnival

July 15, 2017

An Invitation to Play: Animal Carnival

Summer’s here, and parents everywhere are scrambling for ideas to keep their preschoolers busy. Whether you have a toddler, a preschooler, or an elementary-aged kiddo, it can be a challenge to find fun things to do when school’s out and the weather is hot.

You can set these games up indoors in just a few minutes, play as long as you like, and then store the loose materials inside the adorable, inviting animal bins.


Animal ball toss

Here’s a fun idea for kids of all ages: An animal ball toss!


Small, soft balls or rolled-up socks

For older kids: a handful of assorted coins

1–3 sweet animal bins to use as targets

Basic idea:

This one is simple. Challenge your kiddos to stand behind a line (or behind a piece of yarn or in a hula hoop) and toss the balls or rolled-up socks into the bins. Little ones may want to run up to the bins and drop the balls in. Older kids will enjoy the challenge of standing as far back as possible.


For little guys and gals who are learning their animals, use a few different animals and say, “Give it to the raccoon,” “Give it to the fox,” or “Give it to the bee.” You could also use colors (“Which animal is pink?” “The black-and-yellow animal wants a ball.”)

For elementary-aged kids, have them toss coins into the bins. You can use this time to help them learn the types of coins (“Give the quarter to the moose.” “Give the dime to the turtle.”) or how to add them up. (“Try to get a dollar into the peacock’s bin.”)

Remember to let your child give you some challenges, too!


Kim’s Game

Remember that old Boy Scout and Girl Scout game where the kids would memorize objects on a tray? Those same cute animal bins can be used for a similar memory game.


An animal bin like these

Several small toys

Basic idea:

Lay the items out on a table or the floor and ask your child to look at them. Tell your child you’re going to take away an item. Put the items into the bin. (Extra credit: act like a magician or carnival barker for extra grins.) Ask your child to close his or her eyes. Take an item from the bin and hide it. Then lay the items out again. See if the child can guess which item is missing. Next, it’s the child’s turn to run the game and your turn to guess what’s missing.


The Invitation

Showing the games to your child and playing along is a great way to spend time together and encourage your little one to learn through play. Once your child has the idea of a game, it’s a great idea to lay the materials out and see what he or she wants to do. Let your little ones lead you! You may be surprised at where their imaginations take them.

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