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Tuesday, August 1, 2023

August Play Activity Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers + Free Play Calendar PDF

I'm putting together monthly play activity schedules to make it easy for you to create a month of fun for your kids at home or in the classroom, every month of the year. The August play calendar focuses on zoo, sunflower, watermelon and all about me themed ideas for toddlers, preschoolers and school kids. The activities include a mix of art and craft, sensory, science and play ideas as well as books to read aloud during the month.

Each activity is explained in detail below, including how you can extend or adjust the activity based on your child's age. You can also download our free interactive August activity calendar pdf with links to instructions for every activity to save for future reference.

finding myself young August play calendar


This play activity calendar includes activities that can easily be done using items from around your home {or classroom} and you can substitute items to make it suit what you have on hand. If you want to be fully prepared I've set up an Amazon supply list that includes all of the main items needed for every activity during August.

There are no activities listed for weekends as they can be used for free play/family time or to catch up on activities you may have missed during the week. Below you will find detailed explanations of each activity as well as how to modify them for children of different ages and some extension activities you can do if you're looking for additional ideas.

At the bottom of this post you'll also be able to download a copy of the interactive August play calendar PDF which includes direct clickable links to all of the activities featured in this months calendar.

Animal Movements Dance

Get the kids up and moving with this fun animal freeze dance. Children have to follow the movements for each animal and then stop when they say freeze. This is great for gross motor movements and also for transitioning from other activities, or just to get their energy out. 

animal movement dance youtube video, click on image to play

Alternative Idea:

Animal Movement Cards. If you're screen free, or prefer to limit screen time, you can get animal movement cards instead. Print out the cards and then pull out one card at a time and tell the kids to move like that animal e.g. stomp like an elephant or slither like a snake.


Zoo Small World

Recreate your own mini zoo at home {or in the classroom} by setting up a sensory tray with different sensory bases and plastic zoo animals. We used a mix of sensory bases including raw cous cous, chickpeas, chocolate powder, green sensory rice and green and blue dyed water. We also set ours up in a cutlery tray because it's an easy way to separate and define each animal enclosure, however you can use any tray or tub you have on hand.

If you have younger children I recommend only using larger sized animals so they're easier to grasp and aren't a choking hazard. Sensory bins are a great way to encourage imaginary play, language development and social skills.

zoo small world sensory play


What do they do with all the POO from the animals at the ZOO? {Read Aloud}

A zoo has lots of animals, but what do they do with all the poo? The hippos, the tigers, the kangaroos... what do they do with all that poo? I wonder, don't you wonder too?

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

what do they do with all the poo from the animals at the zoo book cover

Extension Activity:

Ask the kids their opinion. Once you've finished reading the book ask the children themselves what they think the zoo does with the animal poo and where it goes?

Animal Specimen Bottles

Set up your own zoo specimen museum by creating these animal specimen bottles, just like they do in a real museum when preserving animals in fluid. You'll need some plastic sensory bottles, or empty drink bottles {we use Voss plastic bottles} and some rubber animals that grow in water like these snakes or this lizard.

The kids will have so much fun watching the animals expand and turn into rubbery specimens, then they can have fun studying them by inspecting the jars. Make sure you seal the bottles very well so there are no accidents.

animal specimen sensory bottles


Animal Habitat Puzzle Sorting Game

Download and print off these free animal habitat puzzles then cut them up and get your children to match the top and bottoms of each animal together and then place them in the right habitat. This is a great hands on way for children to learn about where animals originally come from when they're not in the zoo.

Younger children who don't understand habitats can still have fun sorting the puzzle pieces together and naming the animals. They can also mix and match the tops and bottoms of different animals and create their own unique animals.

animal habitat sorting puzzle


Kindness Zoo Colouring Pages

Children can build their fine motor skills and get creative with these free zoo animal kindness colouring pages. It includes a cover page and animals from A-Z, each with a different kindness message, which can be stapled together to make a book once complete. These can also be repurposed as part of letter of the week activities as each page focuses on a different letter of the alphabet.

zoo animal kindness colouring pages

Dear Zoo {Read Aloud}

I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet.... so they sent me an elephant! Lift the flaps to find out what other animals they sent instead.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

dear zoo book cover

Extension Idea:

Dear Zoo Containers. Using the containers in the book as inspiration, draw your own containers on paper or cardboard. Match the colours, shape and size of the ones in the book. Have a look at how these teachers created cardboard Dear Zoo costumes.


Zoo Animal Masks

Your kids can become zoo animals with these free printable zoo animal masks. Download the masks and print them out on cardstock, or paper and laminate them, then cut the holes and add string or elastic to turn them into proper masks. The file includes black and white or coloured masks so children can colour their own masks too.

free printable zoo animal masks


Alphabet Zoo Sensory Bin

This fun alphabet zoo sensory bin is a great way to combine learning about animals and letters together into a fun sensory activity. To set it up you'll need a sensory base, a variety of plastic zoo animals and some alphabet blocks or magnets. Add in the letters that correspond with the animals included in the bin. The kids can pick out an animal, say it's name and then find the matching letter.

alphabet zoo sensory bin

Sunflower Craft

Children can create their own beautiful sunflower by painting with their hands then adding a green stalk and leaves and decorating the painting with seeds. You can use black buttons as seeds as shown below, or use real sunflower seeds.

sunflower hand print craft


Little Sunflower {Read Aloud}

Follow the journey of a sunflower from a single seed to a fully grown sunflower until it gets sleepy and turns into a seed again. This book is a fun way to share the life cycle of a sunflower with younger kids.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

little sunflower book cover


Sunflower Sensory Bin

Set up a simple sunflower sensory bin like the one below by adding yellow sensory rice, black beans or sunflower seeds, sunflower beads or artificial sunflowers and some mini pots and scoops. You could also add in some numbers for some counting practice and other fine motor tools like handy scoopers.

sunflower sensory bin
Image: The Play Tribe

Sunflower Playdough Counting Mats

Use these free sunflower playdough mats to help teach children number recognition and one to one correspondence. Use them with playdough and loose parts to fill the tens frame - using real sunflower seeds is a great way to tie in the sunflower theme.

sunflower playdough counting mats


Sunflower Life Cycle Puzzles

These sunflower life cycle puzzles are a fun way to teach children about the different stages of the life cycle - seeds, seedling, young plant and sunflower. I recommend laminating the puzzles, or printing them on cardstock for longevity, especially if you're using them in a classroom with lots of kids.

If you're teaching younger children I would use the single 5 piece puzzle as it will be easier for them to match together. Older children will be able to use the individual 3 piece puzzles. You could also get older children to help cut the puzzles out for extra scissor practice.

sunflower life cycle puzzles


Watermelon Playdough Mat

Download my free watermelon playdough mat as part of my free summer playdough mats. Use black playdough, black beans or black mini pom poms to give the watermelon seeds. This is also a great activity to introduce one to one correspondence and number recognition by asking children to put a certain amount of seeds on the watermelon slice.

free watermelon playdough mat

Watermelon Volcano

Did you know you can make a volcano out of a watermelon? Follow the steps for this watermelon volcano experiment and you can create an explosive volcano complete with red lava - don't worry the lava isn't dangerous, it's the result of a bicarb and vinegar reaction.

This simple science experiment is a great way to teach children about chemical reactions in a hands on way and you only need a few items from the pantry.

watermelon volcano science experiment


The Watermelon Seed {Read Aloud}

What happens when you swallow a watermelon seed? Does it grow in your belly? Do you turn into a watermelon? Find out in this book.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

the watermelon seed book cover


Watermelon Slime

Have some ewwwy gooooey sensory fun with this watermelon slime. This slime is borax free, but you will need contact solution to make it. The watermelon seeds are black mini pom poms which add another fun texture to the slime.

watermelon slime recipe

Watermelon Sponge Painting

Create cute watermelon slice paintings by using cut up sponges, finger painting and a paintbrush. This is a fun activity that allows kids to use different painting techniques to create a textured and layered piece of art. You can also add in some counting practice as the children are adding the watermelon seeds.

watermelon sponge painting


All About Me Questionnaire

If you're in the northern hemisphere your children are probably heading back to school at the end of this month or the start of next month, so it's a great time to fill out an all about me questionnaire. It's a fun way to record their favourite things each year and if you're a classroom teacher it's a great way to get to know your new students.

Please note this is a paid printable, however I've set up a code 40OFF which you can use until 31st August 2023 to save 40% off, which brings it down to just over a dollar. You must enter the code for the discount to be applied.

all about me printable


Emotions Playdough Mats

Download my free blank face playdough template and get your kids to use playdough, loose parts or washable markers {if you laminate it} to create their own face. They can add hair and facial features to represent how they see themselves either literally or how they want to look.

free printable emotions playdough mats with washable pens and playdough

What I Like About Me {Read Aloud}

The things that make you different can also make you special. I'm not like you. You're not like me. That's why we think that life is great. So join us as we celebrate.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

what I like about me book cover


Collage Portraits

Cut out some skin coloured ovals to use as blank faces and then add other ripped paper and textured items so children can create their own collage portraits. They can make one to represent themself and then do others to represent everyone in their family.

collage portraits


Click the download template button below to download the interactive PDF file. Each image on the PDF calendar can be clicked to go directly to the instructions for the individual activity.

Please note that this activity calendar PDF is for personal or classroom use only and may not be shared, electronically uploaded or sold on any platform. If you would like to share or feature the calendar in a blog post please link back to this post directly.

august play calendar 2023

download pdf here

august play ideas for kids

Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, which means I may make a small commission at no cost to you, should you make a purchase.

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