Cian is showing a lot of interest in farm animal books, with us reading his selection on loop every day. He hadn’t played with our small world farm animals before, so I decided to combine them with some taste safe messy play.


  • Tray
  • Hot chocolate powder
  • Natural yoghurt
  • Farm yard animals


I put some hot chocolate in the centre of the tray, then poured the yoghurt around the edge. I placed the tray in the bath and gave Cian a spoon to explore the tray. At first he just poked the hot chocolate with the spoon, then he started to mix the two together.

Once he’d mixed the yoghurt and hot chocolate in to a paste, I added some water and gave Cian the animals. He put them all in the ‘mud’, then used the spoon to try and pour mud over them.

I stood all the animals up and he giggled away as he knocked them back down.

Cian tipped the mud in to the bottom of the bath for some real messy play. He enjoyed squelching the mud and rubbing his hands in it. He then stood up (I helped to support him as messy play gets slippy in the bath) and stamped around and dragged his feet through the mixture to make toe prints. As I added water to the bath, it changed the consistency of the mud adding to the sensory exploration.

When there was enough water for the farm animals to float, Cian picked them up silently, examining each one in turn.

He then handed the animals to me one at a time, so I asked him what sound they all made.

After making the animal sounds together, Cian went back to playing independently. This time he was making the animals “talk’ to each other. In the video below you can hear the “Baa”, “Neigh” and “Eeyore”.

There was lots of splashing.

To finish off, we emptied out the ‘muddy’ water and replaced it with clean water. I filled the tray of animals up with soapy water and gave Cian a nail brush to clean the animals. He was still making the animal sounds as he played.

DfES Outcomes for EYFS (2013)

Communication and language

Listening and attention (16 to 26 months)

  • Selects familiar objects by name and will go and find objects when asked, or identify objects from a group.
  • Understands simple sentences (e.g. ‘Throw the ball’.)

Speaking (8 to 20 months)

  • Uses sounds in play, e.g. ‘brmmm’ for toy car.

Physical Development

Moving and handling (8 to 20 months)

  • Enjoys the sensory experience of making marks in damp sand, paste or paint.
  • Passes toys from one hand to the other.

Personal, social and emotional development

Self-confidence and self-awareness (16 to 26 months)

  • Gradually able to engage in pretend play with toys (supports children to understand their own thinking may be different from others).


Shape, space and measures (16 to 20 months)

  • Enjoys filling and emptying containers.

Understanding the world

The world (16 – 26 months)

  • Explores objects by linking together different approaches: shaking, hitting, looking, feeling, tasting, mouthing, pulling, turning and poking.

The world (22 – 36 months)

  • Enjoys playing with small-world models such as a farm, a garage, or a train track.

Expressive arts and design

Exploring and using media and materials (8 to 20 months)

  • Explores and experiments with a range of media through sensory exploration, and using whole body.