Antarctica: Small World Play with Penguins

Antarctica small world play

Luke and Lilah (ages 4 and 3) have loved penguins ever since we read aloud the chapter book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and their penguin love was recently re-energized when we made the Penguin Bowling set from the December Kiwi Crate.  With colder days upon us and winter right around the corner, they are also fascinated by snow and ice and waiting for the day we get some of our own outside!

I haven’t done a lot of extended-theme activities with them before, but their interests have combined so nicely for this one that I thought I’d give it a shot!  We started by reading lots of non-fiction books about snow, ice, and penguins.  We even looked at a few maps and geography books.  You wouldn’t think kids this young would be into this kind of thing, but you might be surprised.  Mine LOVE it and ask all sorts of questions which really show they are thinking!  They even ask to take the books to look at on their own when we’re done reading!

To extend our learning even more, I thought I’d set up an Antarctic small world for them to play in complete with snow, ice, penguins, and a killer whale!  Of course we’d need water, so what better place to create the small world than in the bathtub!

penguins from Safari Toobs

To create the setup, I used shaving cream, blue gems, a mirror (Thanks to the inspiration from Happy Hooligans in this Icy Activity Bin post!), and some iridescent shreds from Dollar Tree.  I also used a few drops of blue food coloring to lightly color the water.  We already had a killer whale bath scrubber, which I added, along with some foam snowflakes, and of course we needed penguins!!  Ours came from Safari Ltd. and included the Penguins Toobs and Incredible Creatures:  Emperor Penguin with Baby.



I also froze two big bowls of water to act as icebergs and dumped in the contents of our ice maker drawer.


The ice didn’t last very long in the warm bath water, but the kids enjoyed touching it, commenting on the coldness, and letting the penguins walk on the icebergs, as well as slide along on their bellies.  Surprisingly, the ice didn’t change the temperature of the water very much at all and the kids never complained they were cold.


L&L had fun scooping the shimmery shreds from the water for a little sensory fun.

The kids enjoyed marching the penguins around in the snow and ice…



…and occasionally letting them go for a swim in the frigid waters.

The penguins had to watch out for the killer whale though! We learned through our reading that they can be very ferocious!!

No penguins were harmed in the making of this bath! 😉

To clean up, we simply rinsed all the toys in the water and scraped the shaving cream snow into the water.  We had gathered up most of the iridescent shreds earlier, but we also cleaned out any that remained.  In the process of cleaning, the kids discovered they could make little shaving cream icebergs that would float on the water.  Before long, they came up with a great little game of trying to balance the penguins on the icebergs!  It took careful attention and delicate placement, but it was possible!

And of course, my sensory-loving girl got into the snow a little bit herself!!


As a follow-up to all of our Antarctic fun, I plan to preview the movie March of the Penguins and select several parts that I think are appropriate and interesting for the kids to watch.  It’s available for streaming on Netflix.  I’m sure we’ll repeat this bath tub play many, many times, too! 🙂

Toobs Giveaway

We play with figurines made by Safari ALL. THE. TIME. and I was so thrilled that they were willing to partner with me for this post at my request.  Additionally, they’ve offered one of my readers his/her choice of any one Safari Toobs set!!  To sweeten the deal, the winner will receive an EXTRA prize for each Safari social media page the winner is following!!!

The giveaway is run via Rafflecopter and will run for approximately one week.  It is open WORLDWIDE!  The winner will be selected randomly via Rafflecopter and will be contacted by me via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond with mailing address information before a new winner will be chosen.  Please add inlieuofpreschool (at) gmail (dot) com to your email contacts so the potential winning email doesn’t get lost in your SPAM folder!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to know more about Safari LTD?



penguin bath play for kids

In Lieu of Preschool would like to say a special thank you to Safari LTD for partnering with us for this post! We’d also like to thank the ever inspiring Crystal from Growing a Jeweled Rose and Bath Activities for Kids who first inspired us to start themed bath activities and who continues to inspire us daily with her creativity!

Disclosure: The penguins reviewed in this post were given to me for free by Safari Ltd. at my request for partnership.  I was not paid for this post, nor are there any affiliate links included in the post.  I only accept and review products on my blog that interest me, my family, and that I think would truly interest and benefit you, my readers. All posts on this blog reflect my personal opinions and are not swayed by compensation and/or free products.  

This post may contain affiliate links.

Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • I love toobs! I like the dinosaurs ones!

  • I like the ancient fossils.

  • sterling0101 says:

    Yay Antarctica in the tub is great!!!

  • Lindsay says:

    How fun! Looks like your kids had a blast! We have a few TOOBs and Sammy still loves to play with them. After checking out their site I really like the knights and dragons.

  • I love the Toobs the best! We have baby animals, knights and dragons, and fairies. And my kids REALLY want the Antarctica Toob after seeing your post!

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been itching to get some toobs for my almost two year old son. Would love to win!

  • Lorie K says:

    My kids love their glow in the dark stuff!

  • I have one child that loves the Egyptian Tube, One that loves the Knights and one that loves the Fairies. My personal favorite is the musical instruments!

  • Jess says:

    We have the dinosaur toob, but my son is big into dragons right now and Santa is bringing him a castle for Christmas, so that would be our fave 😉

  • Carla says:

    We have several Toobs–the kids really like them. Currently, I am looking for animals from our area as I’ve been volunteering at a Nature Center and our kids need to play to learn.

  • jackie says:

    Oh WOW! This is one of the best baths ever, Genny! It looks so inviting! My boys would have LOVED this kind of thing when they were young! Thanks for the mention, and the link too! 🙂

  • Kiana says:

    Thanks for the chance to win! I would really love their Down On The Farm set.

  • what an awesome bath!! love those penguins and all the stuff you did! so fun!

  • nickieisis3 says:

    My son loves any of the tubes, maybe the dinosaurs or reptiles the best.

  • How fun to be an explorer in your own tub! We love animal tubes!

  • Joyce says:

    Oh what a gorgeous and fun activity! Seriously fantastic!

  • Bebe McGooch says:

    We don’t have any Toobs yet! I hope we win!

  • Monkey momma says:

    What a great giveaway! I would love to have the North American Wildlife and the Antarctic Toobs (and just about every other one they make). My son, age 1.5, loves penguins and calls them “waddle-waddles”

  • Jamy says:

    I love the little ladybugs! They are adorable!

  • Ann Fantom says:

    My daughter would love Wild Safari® Sealife Shark Ray because she like to collect sea animals

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

  • Jennifer V. says:

    We already have many of their dinosaur line, a couple of the science life cycle packs, and quite a few toobs and love them all…hard to pick a favorite!

  • Tamar says:

    the animal replicas

  • I love the shiny string thingies you used for the bath!

  • Shelley says:

    down on the farm set!

  • Jessica says:

    My daughter is trying to collect all of their wolves, so she would love the Wild Safari® North American Wildlife Black Wolf. Thank you for the giveaway!

    girlygirlugh at gmail dot com

  • What a great post. Love your set up very creative. We have the dinosaurs and pirates. My son loves them for play.

  • The Monko says:

    love this. Really fantastic

  • These are great! Thanks for sharing! My daughters would love the Zoo Babies set.

  • Sunnie says:

    I have never seen this, Id like to have the baby animals

  • Vanda says:

    I’ve discovered Safari Toobs just a few weeks ago, but I immediately fell in love with them (we own about dozen sets already) 🙂

  • Vanda says:

    I’ve discovered Safari Toobs just a few weeks ago, but I immediately fell in love with them (we own about dozen sets already) 🙂

  • Momma Nee says:

    I love the down on the farm animals and know that my daughters (ages 3 & 1) would love them as well!!!

  • Denise S. says:

    I like the Venomous Creatures Toob.

  • I like the Down On The Farm Mega Toob.

    Paula Michele Hafner

  • Keri says:

    Wow – I love all of the toobs and now want to go get some asap 🙂 Thinking I like the baby dinos a lot – otherwise any animals and sealife… they’re all awesome!

  • Anonymous says:

    I remember doing this same Antartic bathtub idea once! It was lots of fun. Great minds think alike!

  • Rochel S says:

    I like the Down on the Farm Toob!

  • MizVickik says:

    I’d like the venomous creatures Toob!
    Miz Vickik

  • McKim says:

    I like the Wild Safari® North American Wildlife


  • Kimberly says:

    I like the replica hermit crab. They are one of my husband’s favorite animals.
    kirbycolby at gmail dot com

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