Our African Animal set has been a longtime dramatic play favorite at my daycare. Elephants, lions, a rhino and more have had parties, gone to school, made friends and had viciously wild encounters over the years.
While I usually support this play with books and discussions about the animals and their habits, I recently decided to add something new by making a homemade Savannah for our animal friends.
With the help of the kids this project was quick work. Besides making the animal play even more fun, it gave us a chance to get more in touch with animal habitats. We placed the hippo in the water, the lions in the grassland, the gorilla on the mountain and so on.
As the play continued, sometimes the children decided to place the animals in their true habitats. Sometimes they mixed it all up for fun. I often saw facts that we learned through books and discussion in the children’s play. The block trees were deemed acacia trees for the giraffes to feed on. The elephants stamped out any fires they encountered.
One of the favorite games to play involved crocodiles trying to catch animals who came to the watering hole for a drink. I think the animals should have been paying more attention to Sunshine the cat lurking in the background.
How to Make Your Own African Savannah
Now that you’ve seen how fun this project can be, I’ll show you how to make your own African Savannah play set!
- Green, brown, and blue felt
- Green construction paper
- Cylindrical blocks
- Fabric Glue
- Clothes Pins
- Cut brown and green felt into squares to represent grasslands or dirt.
- Invite your children to crumple up some green construction paper into tight balls to represent bushes.
- Cut the blue felt into lakes and rivers.
- Find some small blocks to use as rocks and cardboard boxes for mountains.
- Cut a few strips of green felt. Make a few small cuts at the ends. Glue the strips onto the cylindrical blocks to make the trees.
- Invite your children to make the crocodiles by drawing eyes, scales and teeth on the clothes pins.
Now your ready to play! Remember to visit the library for books about the animals you’re studying.