Small World Play for children : What, why and how
The concept of small world play for children certainly isn’t new. However, our understanding of its importance in a child’s learning and development is far more advanced than in the past. It’s this comprehension that allows parents and caregivers to best stimulate such a fun activity, make it age-appropriate and put in place the necessary equipment for children to gain full advantage.
What is Small World Play?
As the name suggests, small world play is where children use playthings to create a miniature, real-world or fantasy scenario and use their imagination to make up stories and situations. This could be in many guises, such as in the farmyard, a bus station, the supermarket… The list is endless and the only restrictions are the child’s imagination.
Using small figures and objects, the scenarios will be guided by the child’s interests. Literally any world can be re-created in miniature. For example, a dinosaur world, a fairy garden – even Santa’s grotto complete with elves and Rudolph. The crucial concept is that the child channels their interests into the creation of their small scale world. They then use the world to act out situations that flow from their imagination, allowing them to explore and understand the world around them.
Why is Small World Play so Important?
Children best learn through fun experiences. And child-directed small world play is hugely enjoyable. Every time they engage, they create a unique scenario. As they develop, so their worlds become more complex. This provides stimulation that nurtures a child’s imagination. It allows them to build on the vital skills of communication, practice social skills, organise their ideas and develop their sequencing skills.
Other benefits include:
How to Easily Incorporate Small World Play into the Home or Learning Environment
Small world play doesn’t necessarily require multiple resources. Anything can become a tool. For instance, a shoebox can be a garage or a stable, a rug can be a car park (or a field!), toilet roll tubes can become tunnels… Adding some extra items can make the world even more realistic. Farm animals, a doll’s house, a sandpit (a tray containing sand makes the perfect beach)… The possibilities are endless. The more layers you add, the more realistic their worlds can become.
At Nido Early School, small world play plays a key function in supporting our children’s learning and development. We put extensive effort into creating the facilities appropriate to the age of the children using them. From babies through to toddlers and pre-schoolers, these interactive opportunities are a vital element that helps our charges develop socially, intellectually and physically, while having fun as they do so.
Small world play fits perfectly into the Reggio Emilia approach that’s embraced at Nido Early Schools across the nation. This is just one reason why we’re becoming the location of choice for parents who demand the very best in pre-school care for the most precious members of their family.