Learning about real life through small world play

A great way for children to make sense of their world in the classroom!

What is small world play?

Small world play is an activity where you create a miniature real life scene using real objects. In the past we have used different types of rocks and sand to create a construction site. We have also used different sticks, logs, and leaves to create a nature scene.

Making Sense of their World

The goal is to get the students to use their imagination and act out real life scenarios through play. Our discussions during fire safety week inspired this small world play.

For this small world play, the flames were made out of pieces of foam and lightly taped to the dollhouse so after the children used the fire extinguishers on the flames they would fall and it put the fire out. The fire extinguishers are spray bottles from the Dollar Tree filled with water. We added a label around the spray bottles to make them look more like an extinguisher.

Expanding their Imagination

It took no time at all for the children to get the idea and let their imaginations take the lead. I could hear the children make up different stories as to how the fires started and how they needed to put the them out.

Incorporating firetrucks into the sand table is another way to explore small world play. The children really loved the roads, tunnels, and firetrucks and their imaginations took off as they used the sand as “water” to put out the fire on the roads and tunnels.

Why we Love Small World Play

It’s fun to put together different forms of small world play around the classroom and then see what the children will do with them. A small world has a special way of engaging children into conversation and story telling as they spend time at play.

More to grow on;

There are so many ways to explore small world play. Check out this AMAZING tree farm!


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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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