By Mel @melswrapart
So what exactly is small world play I hear you say? Small world play is a style of imaginative play which uses toys or props, often miniature in size which is perfect for small hands too! It encourages or invites the child to engage in imaginative worlds to create their own detailed play worlds.
Giving children the opportunity to act out experiences through small world play supports the development of their personal, social & emotional skills.
When children take on & act out another role, it supports their language development, confidence building and self esteem.
Small world play such as this farm one pictured below allows for so much learning to occur.
For example, being able to either say the animals names or point to them when asked, “Where is the horse?”. Learning the sounds the animals make & trying these out themselves! Learning about what environments or homes (habitats) the animals like to live in (e.g. pigs like to live in mud) also what different animals like to eat (e.g. horses like to eat grass and are therefore herbivores).
It boosts confidence & pride when they show off their creations for the first time. It is also an excellent way to build social skills and conflict resolution among younger children, as they express thoughts and feelings of the various animals in the play tray. There was lots of ‘mooing’ & ‘neighing’ coming from Mr 2.5yo during this play, which was gorgeous to hear!
We tried two slightly different play trays for our farm small world play. Pictured is a potentially messy one that includes, blue water for the ducks, shredded green paper for the horses grass, mud (which is taste safe oobleck made from mixing cornflour, cocoa powder & some water together), puffed buckwheat where the tractor & small barn is & puffed quinoa for the rooster & chicken. The other one (less messy) included a strip of fake grass to extend the play beyond the tray to include more props. The actual small world includes blue rice as water for the ducks, green split peas for the horses grass, brown playdough for the pigs mud, green dyed rice & a few strands of hay for the horses and small barn area & lastly chickpeas for the rooster & chicken.
Adding in some other props like a small barn, fences & farming vehicles can also add in more scope for extending the farm small world play. I’ve also included some farm animal movement cards, matching cards & books to allow for further exploration of the farm theme.
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A little bit about the author-
Mel is currently a stay at home mum to two boys aged 2.5y and 7.5y. She was previously a fully qualified primary school teacher, having taught for well over ten years at all levels, subjects and sectors. Mel found her niche in the visual arts room, which is evident in her amazing art and craft set-ups on her Instagram account! Over the past two years, Mel has actively sought out information and has taught herself the principles of Montessori learning, and includes this way of learning in much of her home play.