Do your children like to create and play with small worlds? My girls always have one or two landscapes on the go at any one time. Today B made a fairy garden in the sand pit which she declared ‘the sweetest thing I’ve ever made’ – so I had to show it to you. It’s lovely, and also a good reminder that the simplest of ‘loose parts’ and a child’s imagination can combine to create great things.
Sand pit fairy garden for small world play
Our sand pit is often the site of the children’s small world creations and I keep it stocked with different materials they can use to build and make and play. We’ve been chatting about ‘loose parts’ recently over on NurtureStore’s facebook page and I know more and more of you are including them in your play settings, with some of you taking steps to clear out plastic toys and replace them with natural materials instead. By loose parts I mean offering children open-ended materials that they can use in their play, any way they like.
Loose parts we often have available in our sand pit area include:
sand :: water :: sticks :: bark :: straw :: fir cones :: shells :: pebbles :: slate :: gravel :: pots and pans :: cups and plates :: wooden and metal spoons :: scoops :: slices of tree trunk ::
Another great addition to a loose parts collection is to have a Snipping Pot: a few extra tubs of plants that the children can pick and use in their play. A pot of ‘cut-and-come-again lettuce’ is a great choice as it quickly re-grows for the children to use another day. Herbs are also perfect, adding the extra sensory elements of sight, smell and taste.
Giving children ‘permission’ to pick some of the flowers in the garden and having interesting materials available can result in wonderful creative play. B’s fairy garden is a classic ‘loose parts’ creation and she chose a variety of plants to create a little orchard…
And a little allotment, planted with neat rows of vegetables.
Her fairy garden is super simple, made of only sand, plants and imagination, but also something full of her own ideas. It’s lovely to watch and see what children make when they have a blank canvass and a few supplies.
Do you offer loose parts in your garden?
What kind of materials do you include for your children to play with? What are their favourites?
More garden play ideas
If your children love to play outdoors or you’d like to bring more of nature inside, come and take a peek at The Garden Classroom. It’s got a whole year’s worth of nature play ideas, including dinosaur small worlds and miniature garden ideas.