Imaginative Play Scene — Island

I confessed that I don’t get down and play with my kids all that often, but I do constantly facilitate and watch them play.   One of the things I enjoy to do is help set up play scenes for the children.  I was first inspired by this concept by Kate from Picklebums and I highly recommend this post from her: Imaginative Play at Home.

Fostering imaginative play is important to me as it’s evolving play: it starts with the building phase, then the play phase, and the play evolves with the environment. Plus, as a bonus, this sort of play lasts for days!  This imaginative play scene is island inspired and below is how I put it together.

Imaginative Play Scene -- Desert Island

How to Make

A Desert Island play theme is a fun idea for the summer months. It was easy and inexpensive to set up. It can be used outside on the grass, under a patio/veranda or even inside (if you’re game) on a large towel.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- materials


Large shallow rectangle box (I used an underbed storage box from Bunnings)

Round laundry bowl (you an also use a standard kitchen bowl — I purchased this from Bunnings)

20Kgs double washed sand (I purchased a bag from Bunnings)

Blue food colouring (optional)

Note: You only need a small amount so it’s very diluted and doesn’t seem to stain the kids hands or clothes

Washer or tea towel (I bought a $1 tea towel from Best & Less and cut out a rectangle)

Decoration items/toys

  • Pebbles
  • Shells
  • Duplo palm tree (make your own palm tree by threading a large leaf on to a stick)
  • Mermaids
  • Pirates
  • Rocks
  • Boats
  • Treasure box
  • Barbies

Most of the materials we found around the house, however, because I want a large box dedicated for imaginative play scenes, I purchased a few of these items.  The sand, the under bed box and laundry bowl came to a total of $30.

Step 1: The Island

Fill the round laundry bowl with sand and smooth to create the Island.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 1

Step 2: The Sea

Place the Island into the underbed storage box and fill the box with water to the level of the laundry bowl. Add a little blue food colouring if desired.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 2

Step 3: Create the Island

I cut up a cheap tea towel for a beach towel and used pebbles for a path. We used a Duplo palm tree to create the island look; or a large leaf on a stick does the trick.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 3

Step 4: Add Toys

Here are some ideas: Barbie, mermaids, fish, sharks, boats.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 4 add toys

Step 5: Play

This sort of water play is perfect for the summer months!

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 5 play

Step 6: Create

The best part of this sort of play is it evolves and grows as the kids use their imagination. Last time I checked, this is what their play looked like. I helped create the basics and the kids did the rest, including the leaf trees.

Imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 6 create

Kind of dreamy really.

imaginative play space -- desert island -- finished

Other Imaginative Play Scene Ideas

Imaginative Play Scenes

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  • Reply
    January 9, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I like this idea Kelly, I’m pretty sure I may be able to re-create it without purchasing anything new (which appeals to me greatly). Your photo is perfect, I’m so impressed.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      January 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks Christie. Yes, most things are easy to find which is fantastic! I can’t wait to make another scene!

  • Reply
    The Imperfect Housewife
    January 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    What a fantastic idea!

  • Reply
    Nicole Grant
    January 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I love this type of play too. The other day I filled up a tub, complete with blue water, and the girls took their dollies for a swim. I have been trying to think of other types of water play, as it’s been so hot here lately. This is a great idea! Thanks Kell.

  • Reply
    Kellie @ Three Li'l Princesses
    January 10, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I’m having a little giggle at myself, Kelly. I clicked over after seeing the title in my blogroll, which I thought read “mum imaginative play scene: desert island”. Not sure what I was expecting!! LOL!
    I do love this though. I think Ella would have a ball. I swear her imagination is as high as it’s ever been at the moment. The stories she’s able to conjure up amaze me! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      January 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      BAHA! Well now, I do think it would be a very good thing to make a life-sized version for myself!

  • Reply
    January 10, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Love that so much thought and effort goes in to your Canon submission. Great photo and have just voted for you. Good luck!

  • Reply
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    JDaniel4's Mom
    July 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    This is such a fun way to explore water and pretend! Love it!

    I would love for you to link this up to my Outside Play: Water link up!

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    Hampton Swim School
    June 23, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    What a brilliant idea thanks for sharing this! My water loving daughter would love to do this!

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