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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.

Nido Early School
Nido Early School

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.

Nido Early School play
Nido Early School playhttps://nidoearlyschool.com.au/

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.

Nido Early School indoors
Nido Early School indoors

Other benefits include:

Encourages the growth of vocabulary as they communicate what’s happening in ‘their world’.
Provides a safe space in which to explore their imagination and ideas. In turn, this helps build self-confidence.
Promotes exploration of their own emotions via a character that they’ve made up.
Helps build awareness of others around them by seeing the world through the eyes of the characters within their scenario.
Helps stimulate the concept of space, size, cause and effect. Such an example is letting go of a car on a slope to make it go faster.
Helps them develop fine motor control.
Inspires problems solving. For example, not all the horses fit in the stable.
Is great for developing numeracy skills through questions such as, how many sheep are in the field?
Builds bonds with their parent/caregiver as they play.
Can help dispel fears, such as visiting the doctor, by creating a small world play scenario in which they can question and understand what might happen during a visit.
Nido Early School room
Nido Early School room

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.

Nido Early School centre
Nido Early School centre

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.

 

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