Of all Julia Donaldson’s brilliant children’s books, this is my favourite. I think it lends itself so well to messy play, too, so I didn’t need asking twice to set it up in the mixing tray- loving this resource!

To set up, we focussed on two main scenes: the “towering icebergs and far-off lands” and the emergency rescue of the whale, towards the end of the story. There is so much to explore: volcanos, forests, deep sea… it really could be unpacked in several different ways.


We made the icebergs from recycling materials; cardboard avocado packaging with cotton wool stuck on.

For the beach scene; we used sand from the outdoor sand pit, shaving foam with blue food colouring mixed into it and a stick to mix it. Little is going through a phase of not enjoying having messy hands!


As well as using our usual model animals (probably the best toy investment I have ever made) we found a knitted finger puppet snail to include in the tale. This was lovely at first, but once Big got home from school and ‘joined in’ we got really into it and the woollen snail was put through it’s paces!


This book is a great adventure tale, and could easily be used to explain concepts such as courage, bravery and making a positive contribution, to young children.

Cost: Sand, toys, book and fire engine we already had.

Shaving foam and food colouring: £1 each.

Have you read The Snail and the Whale? What activities have you chosen to do with it?

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