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.
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.
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.
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.
Favourite small worlds
Make simple puppets, and host a tea party.
Or set up a sensory tub small world – like this sleepy bunny lavender tub.
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.
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.