15 fabulous small world activities:: Simple Play series

There’s something so wonderful about creating a small world to play with. Whether your child loves dolls, trains, dinosaurs or diggers, setting up a miniature land, where they can imagine, role play, chat and act our stories, is packed full of play and learning potential. Here are fifteen of our favourite small world play ideas, and invitation for you to join in with us.

15 fabulous ideas for small world to make for imaginary play | NurtureStore :: inspiration for kids15 fabulous small world activities

What happens when we help children gather materials and set up a small world?

They stretch their imaginations and make up stories. They develop language, learn and practise new words, and make conversations between characters. They explore their senses and invent things with loose parts.

They might try out new situations or work on fears or challenges they are facing in real life. They get to be the boss, in charge of their own mini world (which every child would love, right?!).

And we get a window into them, their minds and their passions, as we watch them direct the play and share what is important to them right now.

winter small world play

A small world is super simple to set up – or as elaborate as you care to make it. Two dolls, two cups and a tea pot and you have a cafe ready to go. Draw some roads on a piece of paper and add some cars and you’ve got a city. But if you love crafting and making, you can go to town, adding all sorts of embellishments too.

jungle small world

Young children get the most from small worlds which are familiar – where they can act out things they see in everyday life, or which bring a favourite story to life. Older children might love to really stretch their imaginations and create magical lands and fantasy worlds.

jungle small world

Favourite small worlds 

You can make your small world seasonal, to match the world outdoors – like this winter wonderland. Or this spring farm.

Use loose parts to act out a favourite story – like Baba Yaga’s house in the forest, or the three bears’ den.

Make simple puppets, and host a tea party.

Or set up a sensory tub small world – like this sleepy bunny lavender tub.

Make a jungle with play dough, or make a jungle with a cardboard box.

frog pond small world

Paint a fairy land, set up a dragon world, or create a dinosaur home.

Use water to make a pond, or soil to make a farm.

Draw your own truck depot, or a cardboard box land.

A month of simple play activities

Create your own Simple Play small world

The Simple Play :: complex learning series is a special month of play-based learning ideas from NurtureStore. We’re going back to basics and putting play at the heart of childhood. The philosophy is to offer space, time and opportunity for simple play, to encourage our children’s creativity, enjoyment and complex learning.

Join in with us! Set up a small world with your child, and come and share it with us. Share on Instagram using #simpleplay and hop on over to our Facebook community and post a photo there. See the full Simple Play series here.

Three to Five: Playful Preschool - creative, hands-on learning including 10 free printables

Printable Cityscape for small world play

Our fantastic resource Three to Five: Playful Preschool comes with a printable cityscape that makes the perfect backdrop for small world imaginary play. Get your copy here.


  1. says

    lol wow! great minds think alike! we JUST finished creating a play station for our Animals of the Week that I incorporated into the Letter of the Week lesson of Letter “C” at home. we gathered different types of paper, no crayons or markers allowed, just paper, figurines, and glue (as last weeks prompt) & we created an environment suitable to our “Letter C” Animal learning 😀 Thanks Cathy! we share your site with everyone we can! Big Fans from canada ;D

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