Animals Pretend & Play – Toddler

ETTS Animals Pretend and Play ToddlerChildren’s worlds are filled with animals, both living and represented (in pictures, stories, characters and toys). This makes animals a popular play theme for toddlers.

Did you know?

Pretending to be an animal by moving or walking like one helps develop body awareness, gross motor skills and can help with self-regulation (the ability to manage feelings, behaviour and energy levels).

Early science and maths

Ask your toddler to match animals e.g. “Find one like this”. Talk about the size, colour and body parts on toy animals. This all helps to build the language and concepts your toddler will need for maths and science.

Sort toy animals into small groups. Pointing to each animal in the group as you count them helps your toddler learn one to one counting. This is important in starting to learn the purpose of numbers. Saying numbers in the right order, without counting actual things, doesn’t mean a child is learning what the numbers mean!

Other development

Pretending to be animals can help with motor development, balance and awareness of their body in space e.g. stomping like an elephant, jumping like a frog, slithering like a snake etc.

Using toy animals to make farms or zoos and acting out simple play actions helps toddlers practice their fine motor skills as well as developing their imagination and creativity.


A sand or water tray is great for creating settings for different animals.

Across the ages

All the activities listed on our “Play Ideas” page can be applied across different age groups. See how Animals – Pretend and Play can be fun for babies, children and playgroups.

Activities listed under “toddler” are suitable for children aged 1-3 years. Toddlers enjoy activities that include exploring their environment and finding out how things work.