How to create your own arctic small world play!

Small World Play by Meri Cherry

A wonderful way to celebrate any season or holiday is to invite your students to create their own small world play! Today, my special guest is a wonderful blogger and a long time friend – Meri Cherry!

Hello! I am so excited to be here on Teach Preschool. I’ve been following Deborah’s work and school for a long time and it feels great to be over here sharing some ideas from my own blog, Meri Cherry. I am an art teacher in Los Angeles with over 20 years teaching experience from toddler age to elementary age. Over the past 20 years I’ve become wonderfully passionate about Process Art and it’s many benefits.

*Process Art is art that’s all about the making and the doing, rather than the finished product. I’m sure you’ve heard Deborah talk about it and seen a lot of examples of process art in her work. I’ve become so passionate about Process Art that I’ve created a whole toolkit about it, called  The Process Art Toolkit, to help moms, dads, educators and caregivers have all the tools they need to implement process art into the daily lives.

Here’s one of my favorite creative ideas with kids and I’ve taken directly out of the Process Art Toolkit. It’s called a Small World. Small Worlds are like little scenes kids can interact and play with. They can work with any theme or topic. We recently hosted a Penguin Party at Meri Cherry Art Studio, a process based art studio in Los Angeles. The birthday girl was a big penguin fan so we found ways to turn our small worlds in Arctic Small Worlds. Aren’t they amazing?

All of our small worlds start with a terra-cotta plate and play dough to match the theme. In this case we didn’t dye the play dough so it would look like snow, though we did spray paint the planters a cool blue before the party.

Kids start by mushing the play dough into the terra-cotta plate and spreading it all around. They can play with it as long as they’d like and create mountains, snowmen, icebergs, you name it.

Then have a buffet of materials set up to create with and push into the play dough. One of the reasons this activity is so fantastic is that there’s no glue involved when you push things into the play dough. Kids of all ages can push things into play dough and they can do it over and over again. *Note-The play dough will begin to dry after a few hours to create a permanent world. If you want it to last longer, you can wrap it in plastic.

Some materials you might want to include for your Arctic Small Worlds are…

  • pinecones brushed with glue and sprinkled with glitter
  • cork penguins, winter trees, sugar cubes, white or clear gems, a popsicle stick sign
  • a cut piece of cardboard with glued on blue papers or blue sand to represent water.

You will need some white glue to create the different objects you see here for the small worlds, but everything can stick right into the play dough as you go. Just get creative and have fun with it. If you want to see another example of a small world, check out these Candylands –>


If you like this activity and are feeling inspired to learn more Process Art:

The Process Art Toolkit is filled with tons of ideas, language to use with children while creating, and lots of art tips to make this a great experience for you and your children.

All Teach Preschool Readers are invited to use the code: Teach Preschool

for 10% off the toolkit.

Visit –>


Thanks for reading along everyone and Happy Holidays!

Meri Cherry

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Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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