How to Start Teaching About Life Cycles Through Play Using Safari Ltd
Can two-year-olds, three-year-olds and four-year-olds start learning about life cycles? Absolutely! Let’s make it fun. Using Safari Ltd’s Life Cycle toys we were able to create many activities through play that not only begin to teach children about life cycles, but also provide a visual for them to identify the different phases of organisms during their various stages. They are then able to use that knowledge as they explore the world around them. Remember that as you are engaging in play with your child, discuss the events and critical components that lie within that phase of the life cycle. Children pick up on more than we expect, and our conversations are a key element in fostering development. Here are a few ways to make it fun!
Life Cycle Match
Using Safari Ltd’s Frog, Honeybee, Ladybug, Ant and Butterfly Life Cycle toys we created cards for the girls to play a matching game (you can find the printables that go along with those life cycle organisms at www.matangilemon.com). After placing all our toys in a bag, we took turns closing our eyes and choosing one piece of the different life cycle phases of the organisms listed above. Once the girls chose from the bag, they then described what the life cycle phase was. For example, with “Frog eggs." After naming the piece they placed it on the match from the card. We then were able to learn more information about that life cycle phase by reading the description listed on the associated card. The girls loved this activity and wanted to play it repeatedly. This was an obvious favorite since they asked to play it often!
Creating different small world scenes using the life cycle toys is another great way to incorporate learning into play! For this particular sensory activity, we set up a scene where our ant life cycle could be on the “dirt”, our ladybug life cycle could reside on “grass”, and our frog life cycle could be in water. The girls loved setting this up with me. We loved talking about the different habitat of our creatures along with their various life cycle phases. Hearing my two-year-old say “pupa” or “poopa” as she likes to say it, is definitely my favorite! She was able to retain the information of eggs, larva, pupa, adult as we continue to create multiple activities using our Safari Ltd Life Cycle products. They loved being able to role play the transitions of life cycle phases through the small world set up. My four-year-old even made an “ant hill” for her ant life cycle phases to bury in.
Another fun activity to help introduce life cycles is with a game. We created these “Go Fish” Life Cycle cards to go with our Safari Ltd organisms. We placed our toys in the middle of our game to help the girls remember the different life cycle phases. This game helped them increase their cognitive and memory skills as they had to ask for the associated life cycle phase in order to get all four for a match. For example, if my four year old was trying to get all of the phases of a Honeybee’s life cycle she might ask, “Mommy, do you have a honeybee pupa?” Once she receives the honeybee egg, larva, pupa and adult honeybee cards she then has a match! We then incorporated sequence into our matching game by organizing the cards in the proper life cycle order. At the end of the game we enhanced our counting skills by receiving a point for each correct order of our life cycle match! (“Go Fish” Life Cycle card printables that associate with Safari Ltd are also found on www.matangilemon.com).
We loved exploring our Safari Ltd Life cycle characters and can’t wait to create more activities with them! It was exciting watching my two-year-old and four-year-old grasp the concepts quickly in fun and engaging ways that we will definitely go back to again!
RyLee Matangi is a Child Development Specialist & Blogger. Find her work on matangilemon.com