Rock Pool Sensory Small World Play

After a trip to the beach where we collected lots of pebbles and shells, we made our very own rock pool sensory small world play scene to continue the fun and learning at home!

You may know by now that we love to create small world play scenes. They are excellent for promoting language and storytelling skills, encouraging cooperative play, talking about real life events and allowing for extended playtimes over a series of days or even weeks. All of these are crucial developmental skills in the early years. Small world play is also fantastic for older children as an imaginative way to introduce creative writing prompts.
My girls absolutely love the rhyming picture book Sharing a Shell and it was also a favourite of mine to read aloud to my Reception classes while I was teaching. The strong rhythm and repetitive elements, coupled with the beautiful illustrations and heart-warming storyline make it a modern classic! 
I set this rock pool up by adding 2 cups of play sand to the bottom of a large blue bowl, then filling 2/3rds full with water and adding the pebbles and rocks from our beach trip. We had a little starfish toy that was just crying out to be added too! I put it out as an invitation to play for them to discover with the book next to it and they were really excited when they found it!
They loved taking the pebbles in and out, arranging them on the table top and making the starfish splash around his home. We read the story again as they played and Cakie used one of the larger shells to represent the main shell that the characters all live inside. If only we had a hermit crab, anemone and bristle worm too! But that’s what imagination is for after all.

Learning Links:
  • literacy: story telling, retelling and sequencing from familiar stories, vocabulary development
  • knowledge and understanding: talk about rock pools, where they are found, what lives in them? Examine shells and pebbles using magnifying glasses
Cakie: 3.11
Pop: 2.4
Bean: 5 months

You can buy everything you need to make this small world scene here! (Add some pebbles too!)
<A HREF=””> Widgets</A>

Have you made a small world play yet? What’s your child’s favourite? Leave a link!


  1. says

    I really need to get my head around leaving invitations to play… I just find myself side-tracked constantly by small demands… I love this.