Animal Sensory Tray

Two children playing with toy animals and wooden blocks to build a zoo at day care

This activity promotes development and learning by encouraging children to use senses to explore and interact with the environment.

Materials Needed:

  • Animal figurines
  • Cookie sheet or tray
  • Natural materials, such as sand, smooth sticks, stones, water, moss, plants, etc.
  • Household objects and toys, such as blocks, cardboard tubes, boxes, or mirrors.

Participants: This activity is intended for adult/child interaction


  1. Place a few natural materials and household objects on the tray to create a habitat for the animal figurines.
  2. Add the animals and show your child how to pretend with them. Demonstrate how to use the materials, e.g., make the blocks into mountains or the cardboard tubes into caves. Show how to pretend that an animal is looking for food or taking a nap.
  3. Let your child take over the pretend play and follow their lead. Ask questions, make comments, or offer more support if your child seems unsure. Back out if your child seems confident. Add or replace materials to keep the learning fresh.
Bright Horizons
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Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Two children playing with toy animals and wooden blocks to build a zoo at day care

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