Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mummy Must Have Review | Oh Ivy animals

You may have realised by now {especially if you follow me on Instagram} that I'm a huge fan of learning through play. It all started when bub had to go to speech therapy at about 18 months old. She was referred for two reasons, speech delay {she wasn't saying as many words as they expected for her age} and more importantly they suspected she had some sort of sensory processing disorder {because she wouldn't engage with many people outside our immediate family members, and she had no interest in socialising with other children}. With a family history of autism it was decided to get her into speech therapy asap to try and get her engaging with others as well as helping her develop her speech. 

During her months at speech therapy I learnt a lot of techniques from the therapist and it became my main goal to utilise them at home between visits, so I could help her speech and social skills develop as best as possible. Her therapy really propelled my interest in learning though play and it's never been quashed, despite her being discharged from speech therapy after 9 months {she caught up to all the required levels for speech and was even above some of the markers for her age}. To this day we still do many play based activities at home and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

I've loved watching how her play and interests have evolved as she's grown older and learnt so much more. She's very much into imaginary play at the moment so I'm often leaving out activities which facilitate that and let her imagination run wild. Without a doubt some of her favourite toys for imaginary play are her animals from Oh Ivy. She plays with them pretty much on a daily basis in some way shape or form, so needless to say we've gathered quite a collection of creatures over the last few months. The good thing is they're so versatile so we use them for a number of play based learning activities and bub never gets bored with them. These are just some of the ways we've used our animals to create fun learning scenarios over the past few months.

Learning through play ideas using toy animals


BRING STORIES TO LIFE



We love reading so books are always on high rotation around here. I used to only use my high pitched enthusiastic voice or weird {read ridiculous} hand gestures to bring stories to life, but these days we take things further and extend stories with our toys. This works particularly well as she can re-enact the story after with her toys, adding to or changing the storyline as she sees fit. We have so many animal based books {especially little golden books}, so our animals have been the perfect props for story time.



LEARN ABOUT ANIMALS WITH BOOKS




We also use our animals to help bub understand books that are a bit above her comprehension level. Obviously she can't read yet, so picture books are her jamm at the moment, but we do have some other lovely books in our collection that we use for learning rather than stories. Our mini edition of Animalium is like a mini encyclopedia of animals from around the world. It includes all different types of animals from invertabrites through to mammals and explains the evolution of the animal kingdom in chronological order. Children {and adults} can explore the pages to discover facts about each species including their body structure, life cycle and the habitats they live in. The book {written by Jenny Broom} also includes many intricate and colourful illustrations by Katie Scott {which of course are bub's favourite part at the moment}.



With bub still being so young we haven't really used Animalium to it's full potential yet, but it's still been a great little learning resource for her. I skim read the book to her {skipping the in depth explanations} and we look at all the illustrations and talk about the different features of each animal. We also get our Oh Ivy animals and match them up to the illustrations to help her correlate the pictures in the book to real life animals {the 3d animals make the 2d images more relatable for her, especially at such a young age}. We've also been talking a bit about where the animals live and what they eat as her understanding grows. She also likes to "read" the book back to me and quiz me on the facts. "What's this animal mummy? And what colour is it? Where does he live?"

ANIMAL SMALL WORLD PLAY



One of our favourite ways to use our toy animals is for small world play. Small world play involves creating little "real life" environments so children can act out scenarios from real life helping them process new concepts through play. Small worlds can be an independent activity, but are also great for play dates allowing many children to role play different scenarios together {they're also a great way for them to learn sharing and turn taking}.

Small world play is my favourite type of play because for the most part she can do it independently and it provides so many opportunities for learning, many of which are self initiated. Small world play is great for language development, fine motor skills and cognitive skills as she move pieces around and acts out different scenarios she comes up with. We also usually combine small world play with sensory elements such as water, playdough, dried food {cous cous, rice, pasta}, fake grass, stones, or sand to add a textural element and engage even more senses.




I also sometimes set up small world's that represent stories or shows she's seen so she can act out storylines that she's aware of. The photo above is a Peter Rabbit small world where I included our Oh Ivy fox, racoon, rabbit, echidna and squirrel to represent characters from Peter Rabbit {Mr Tod, Tommy Brock, Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy Winkle and Nutkin}. I have even more small world's planned using our farm animals with cous cous and obleck and our arctic animals with blue water beads, amongst others {check out my Instagram feed for more small world inspiration}.

FLASH CARD FUN




Flash cards are often used to help children learn things like colours, shapes and letters, so it's no surprise that they can also be used to learn animals. We've been using our Two Little Ducklings animal sound flash cards with our Oh Ivy animals to play lots of animal matching games. We've mainly been matching the animals by the picture and by the sounds they make. I vary our matching games each time so it's interesting for her. Sometimes we pick a random flash card from the pile and she needs to match the right animal then we talk about its colour, the sound it makes, how many legs it has, where it lives, what it eats etc. Other times we put out all the cards and I give her a collection of animals and she simply matches them all up with the right cards. We also turn them into a simplified memory game where she needs to guess and turn the cards over to find where the animals are {instead of matching two cards she just finds the matching animal card to her guess and then pairs it with the correct animal figurine}.


The Two Little Ducklings animal sound flash card set includes 20 individually illustrated animal cards with the matching animal sounds and animal names. The set covers a variety of animals including some insects, reptiles, farm animals, zoo animals and birds. The cards are a great learning resource to use alongside toy animals and there are also Australian animal flash cards available as well.

SENSORY FOOTPRINT GAMES



One of the most simple ways to use toy animals is to make footprints in different materials. We've used them in playdough and most recently play foam {as shown in photo} as well as using washable paints to make prints on paper. What starts out as comparing different footprints usually evolves into pretend play where animals are stuck in mud/swamps/grass etc. Last time she spent a good 45 minutes telling a huge story about how the cow was stuck and the lion needed to come rescue him, but then the lion got stuck so the horse came to rescue them... It kept evolving and somehow the animals morphed into batman and bandits {3yr olds have the best imaginations}.


SORTING GAMES


Another simple way to play with toy animals is to play sorting games. You can sort by colour, type {mammal, reptile, bird etc}, sort by the number of legs, sort by habitat, sort by the food they eat. Just adjust the sorting game depending on your child's age and level of understanding.




All of our animal figurines pictured have been purchased from Oh Ivy, an online boutique that specialises in CollectA animals and other animal related products {including the Animalium books and Two Little Ducklings flash cards shown above}. I discovered Oh Ivy via Instagram a few months ago and it's safe to say that I'm now thoroughly addicted to their animals {lucky daddy doesn't know how much money I've actually spent on them}. The animals are so lifelike and nice and sturdy to withstand rigorous toddler play, which can get quite animated at times. They're also all one piece with no holes making them great for water play {no funky black mould can get in there, thankfully}. As you can see we've already enjoyed using our animals in numerous play experiences and I still have so many more ideas, we've only really scratched the surface. If you're on Instagram make sure you search the hashtag #ohivyanimals for other animal play inspiration ideas.


Disclosure - I was provided a mini copy of Animalium and Two Little Ducklings flashcards in exchange for this review. I am currently a brand enthusiast for Oh Ivy on instagram and all animals shown in this review have been purchased by myself. All opinions expressed in this review are based on our own learning and play experiences with the animals, flash cards and book over the past few weeks. I did not receive payment for this review {and have spent waaaaay too much money on Oh Ivy products already}.

4 comments:

  1. These are great ideas. I love quality animals for my wildlife adventuring kids.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These ones are such good quality and they look so realistic too.

      Delete
  2. So many awesome ideas in one post! All those animals are super cute!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sammy! Clearly I spend a lot of time playing ;)

      Delete