Finny set up a small world tray for our animal obsessed three year old.


  • Schleich animals
  • Coloured circus scarves
  • Pebbbles
  • Grimm’s rainbows


Finny was very excited to show Cian the tray, but where was the baby African elephant?

After a lot of searching, Cian finally found the baby African elephant. I love overhearing their discussion when they first explore a tray.

This was when the tray was first set up 5 days ago, but it is still being played with daily. I love opportunities for open ended play. The more uninterrupted, unstructured play the better. The benefits include:

  • Problem solving and learning cause and effect.
  • Learning how to play with others through compromise, conflict resolution and sharing.
  • Developing fine and gross motor skills.
  • Nurturing their creativity and imagination.
  • Discovering their independence and positive self-esteem.

Cian called me in and asked, “Would you like to see which is the African elephant and the Indian elephant?”

Cian described the difference between the two types of elephant. Then we went on to discuss the ‘bracelet’ on his elephant.

DfES Early Learning Goals (2017)

Communication and language

ELG 01 – Listening and attention:

Children listen attentively in a range of situations. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity.

ELG 03 – Speaking:

Children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.

Personal, social and emotional development

ELG 08 – Making relationships:

Children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.

Understanding the world

ELG 14 – The world:

Children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.

DfES Outcomes for EYFS and National Curriculum (2013)

Science Year 1 programme of study

Animals, including humans

  • identify and name a variety of common animals including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals
  • identify and name a variety of common animals that are carnivores, herbivores and omnivores