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The Best Animal Figurines for Teaching, Collecting, and Imaginative Play - Safari Ltd®

The Best Animal Figurines for Teaching, Collecting, and Imaginative Play

Realistic animal figurines draw children in with their bright colors and lifelike details. Much more than simple toys, animal figurines offer endless ways to pass the time while learning about the world and all of its creatures. The intricate details on Safari Ltd. figurines make it easy to see why they are a favorite of parents and educators. Unleash your children’s love of nature with lifelike animal toy figurines.

Table of Contents

  • Different Types of Animal Figurines
  • Wildlife
  • Farm
  • Sea
  • Birds
  • North American
  • Arctic
  • Desert
  • Safari
  • Animal Figurines for Toddlers & Children
  • Nature walks
  • Reading books
  • Sensory bins
  • Animal Figurines for Decor & Collectors
  • Animal Figurines for Education
  • Paint with them
  • Teach sorting and organization
  • Teach about animal habitats and classifications
  • Image and text matching
  • Animal sound games
  • Circle time
  • Use figurines in storytime
  • Animal Figurines for Imaginative Play
  • Different Types of Animal Figurines

    Safari Ltd. has an extensive selection of animal figurines that cover almost any educational and creative activity you could think of. From tiny animal figurines that work well in sensory bins and for prizes to larger ones that are perfect for circle time activities, you can't go wrong with Safari Ltd.'s many types of animal figurines.


    Let children can explore what it means to be a wild animal with Safari Ltd. wildlife figurines, including:


    Many kids start exploring farm animals at a young age, through stories, lived experiences, and digital media. That might explain why farm animal figurines are among the most popular for education and creative play. Ducks, turkeys, chickens, horses, pigs, sheep, and cows are often familiar to even the youngest children, which encourages participation in activities that build sound and word recognition.

    For inspiration, consider the following ways to get kids involved in creative play using farm animal figurines:

    • Use farm animals to bring kids' favorite books or songs to life
    • Act out stories with each child representing a specific farm animal
    • Match adult and baby figurines


    Sea animals are perfect for sparking young imaginations. From massive sharks that lurk under the surface to octopuses that seek refuge in the deep to friendly manatees and starfish, children can spend hours creating magical undersea worlds.

    Water play is an excellent way to use animal figurines on hot summer days. Set up an outdoor water table and provide an assortment of sea animal figurines. Plastic bins also work if you don't have access to a water table or you want to bring water play indoors.


    Imaginations soar with Safari Ltd. bird figurines. Majestic eagles, colorful peacocks and parrots, and fun-to-imitate owls all make excellent learning tools.

    North American

    North America encompasses multiple habitats, making it ideal for teaching about how animals adapt to their surroundings. For example, North American woodland animal figurines such as bison, beavers, and foxes bring stories about the Old West and indigenous cultures to life.


    Take water play a step further by freezing water in shoe boxes to create a chilly backdrop for arctic animal figurines. This not only encourages creative play but also helps reinforce that arctic animals live where it is very cold. Use this as an opportunity to explain natural adaptation to the environment, such as white fur for camouflage and thick fur or fat layers for warmth.


    The desert is a harsh place, and many children may not realize that it is teeming with life. Realistic desert animal figurines solve that issue by providing a life-like representation of common desert dwellers. Lizards, snakes, and mammals that call North American and African deserts home


    Take kids on a wildlife safari with realistic safari animal figurines including lions, tigers, chimpanzees, elephants, and cape buffalo. Bold colors, life-like positioning, and intricate details encourage exploration of far-away places and the animals that live in them.

    Animal Figurines for Toddlers & Children

    Young children can play independently for hours with little animal figurines, imagining a whole world of wonder and excitement. It's natural for parents to want to be involved with a child's playtime, but allowing kids to explore on their own develops important skills. Creative play is critical to developing a sense of self and independence.

    Consider implementing the following activities using Safari Ltd.'s animal figurines to encourage independent play and help children develop vital life skills.

    Nature walks

    Nature provides an inspiring backdrop for creative learning. It brings about wonder and ignites curiosity in children, allowing their imaginations to run wild. Turn your nature walks into a jungle adventure with safari animal figurines that "climb," "swing," and "jump" throughout the trees. For a tamer trek, use forest animal figurines such as rabbits, squirrels, and foxes to bring children's surroundings to life.

    Reading books

    Storytime is a favorite of many children, even after they have begun reading themselves. Incorporating manipulatives can help bridge the gap between words on pages and imaginative play. It also connects reading to many other skills children need to navigate school and social situations.

    Here are a few ways you can take storytime to the next level by including animal figurines:

    • Matching animal figurines and toys to pictures in books as you read together builds connections and comprehension, the vital math skill of matching similar items, while also encouraging a love of reading
    • Learning animal names from books and then asking children to act out their sounds with toys
    • Acting out favorite story scenes with mini animal figurines

    Sensory bins

    Children experience the world around them (and learn from it) through all of their senses, Maximize this interaction by creating sensory bins. These can be as simple or complex as you want. A plastic container and filler is all you need to get started. Add in some animal figurines and let kids dig and feel to uncover what's inside.

    Ask questions such as, "what do you feel?" or "Does it have fur or scales?" to encourage children to think creatively about what they uncover. The more realistic your animal figurines are, the better this type of learning will be, which is why Safrai, Ltd. products work so well in sensory bins.

    Animal Figurines for Decor & Collectors

    Collectors may spend hours searching for where to buy miniature animal figures that don't look like little kids' toys. Safari Ltd. takes the guesswork out of finding high-quality animal figurines and collectibles. Plus, the ultra-realistic details allow you to skip delicate ceramic animal figurines in favor of more durable plastic ones.

    All of the miniature animal figurines at Safari Ltd. are crafted with exquisite, life-like details that draw the eye and are perfect for display. Children also love decorative animal figurines. Don't limit play to the toy bin; instead, incorporate animal figurines decor into everyday activities. For example, favorites including lion and zebra are reminiscent of vintage animal figurines, yet welcome little hands to explore and discover.

    Animal Figurines for Education

    Any early childhood educator will tell you how great toy animal figurines are for educational activities. The possibilities are nearly endless, but here are a few tried and kid-approved ways to incorporate animal figurines into classroom and at-home lessons.

    Paint With Them

    Why stick with paint brushes when you can create amazing art with plastic animal figurines? Realistic details, including scales, fur, and feathers translate into unique patterns when coated with paint. Dip the fins, hooves, and paws into some washable paint to create prints to use for storytelling later on.

    Teach Sorting and Organization

    Animals make great manipulatives for sorting games. Children can group them in so many different ways, including:

    • Size (ex. smallest to largest)
    • Color (ex. make a rainbow or color groups)
    • Texture (ex. Fur, feather, fin)
    • Movement (ex. flying, climbing, walking)
    • Habitat (ex. domestic vs. wild)

    Teach About Animal Habitats and Classifications

    Take sorting to the next level by using animal classification systems. Children can learn about mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds by playing with cute animal figurines and spotting identifying characteristics.

    This is also a great way to teach about habitats and how each animal is best suited to live in its natural environment. For example, use arctic, desert, and jungle animal figurines to show how habitat affects characteristics including coloring, size, and diet. Here are a few examples of habitat-specific figure sets:

    Wild Animal Figurines

    It's probably safe to say that most children don't get many first-hand experiences with wild animals outside of a zoo. However, kids still need to learn about them. Realistic animal figurines bring these wild creatures to life in a safe environment.

    Image and Text Matching

    Matching objects to text is a key component of certain learning systems and is widely used in Montessori classrooms. Children naturally learn by matching words and images. This is why picture books are so popular with young children. Bright images provide a visual context for the unknown words and help explain what is going on.

    Incorporating animal figurines expands on image and text matching by allowing children to use toys from outside of a book. You can also use flashcards or other forms of text for matching activities.

    Animal Sound Games

    Animal sound games are a favorite of young children. They build upon existing knowledge about animals and their behavior, plus they give kids a chance for interactive silliness. You can use several approaches to create fun games with nothing more than a supply of plastic animal figurines.

    One of the most popular activities involves asking kids to close their eyes. You pick an animal figurine out of a basket or box and make its sound. Have the kids guess what animal it is, only allowing them to open their eyes once someone makes a guess. Continue in that manner, or ask the child who gave the correct answer if he wants to make the next animal sound.

    Circle Time

    You can use animal figurines in so many ways, such as animal sound games or charades, that they are the perfect accompaniment for circle time. You may need to adapt some for the youngest learners, but kids are excellent at creative improv.

    Use Figurines in Storytime

    Make animals the focus of storytime by keeping a collection of realistic animal figurines on hand. Use them as prompts for choosing or creating a story. For example, hold up a zebra and tell your students "This is a zebra. He lives," and ask students to fill in the details. Younger students might pick the animal figure that matches your story out of a basket and use it to act out what's happening in the book.

    Animal Figurines for Imaginative Play

    There has been a lot of talk about using natural, wooden toys for children so they can be fully creative. However, if you let a child into a room with both plain wooden and realistic plastic animal figurines, there's a pretty good chance they'll head right for the bright, life-like toys. This is not to take away from wooden toys, but rather to highlight the benefits intricately detailed toys bring.

    Fine details, such as textured skin, accurate colors and patterns, and correct postures don't discourage imagination; they fuel it. Life-like representation in toys shows kids what real animals look like, so they can recreate that image in imaginative play. So, until a child knows that scales feel bumpy, they cannot imagine that feeling on a plain wooden toy lizard.

    Realism encourages imaginative play by providing details and exposing children to new things. You can capitalize on this by:

    • Filling a lower shelf with assorted animal figurines that children can take down and play with.
    • Baking animal-shaped cookies and having kids pair them with a matching animal figure.
    • Asking children to create a story using their favorite animal toy figurines. You can choose the theme, or let their imagination run really wild.

    Animal figurines are the perfect complement to classroom and at-home educational activities. Realistic details encourage hands-on learning and sensory exploration with collectible-quality toys. Luckily, you don’t have to wonder where to buy animal figurines any longer. Whether you are searching for animal figurine toys or collectibles, you are sure to find them in our amazing collection.



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