SMALL WORLD PLAY FOR TOTS
There are not many things more magical than having a miniature world of your own. The process of creating one is as wonderous as playing with it. The possibilities are endless and there are no rules to follow other than your tot’s imagination. These small world play ideas will spark their creativity and turn their ideas into a fantasy come true.
Make a Mini Den
What you will need: lot of sticks roughly the same length, string, and scissors. Optional: secateurs and old rags.
Using string tie three or four sticks together at one end. Once they are attached, fan out the opposite ends to form a tetrahedron or pyramid shape, respectively. Now you have the frame, lean other sticks against the structure to complete the den. You and your tot can now have fun decorating the den and its surroundings. We used some old rags as a carpet inside before welcoming in Mr. Squirrel. Wilbur extended this by making another mini den so “Mr. Squirrel could have company”.
Make a stick person
What you will need: a stick, a permanent marker, some string or wool, and scissors. Optional: feathers.
Using your permanent marker draw a face on one end of the stick. Then wind some string, or better still, colourful wool around the rest of the stick before tying in a knot at the opposite end. Push a small feather into the soft pith of the stick above the face. You could also push wing feathers into the wool to make wings if your tot likes that idea.
Make a Fairy Door
What you will need: cardboard, colouring pens, crayons, or non-toxic water-soluble paints and scissors.
With your tot, design a miniature door. Cut the door shape for your tot and then allow them to decorate it as per their imagination! Your child might want to make more than one, so go for it! Once you have your door, this is where the fun starts. Either in the garden, out on your daily walk or around the house, you can place the door up against objects where a fairy might like to live. In the photos you can see that Wilbur and I had a great time placing our home made (and shop bought) fairy doors. Out on our walk, we played a game where we imagined that miniature people lived in secret places along our route. When Wilbur wasn’t looking, I hid the fairy door for him to find. When we got back home, he wanted a turn hiding our door around the house and garden for me to find. After this activity we become curious about what it would be like if we could open the door and go inside. This led us to our next activity in this list.
Making a Miniature World
What you will need: a cardboard box or old drawer (lined with a compostable plastic bag) or a plastic tray, soil, pebbles, sticks, old rags, an old food container (e.g. a large yoghurt pot) and scissors. Optional: coloured pens, non-toxic water-soluble paints, glue, and other craft materials.
Take your container and fill it with a shallow layer of soil. Next, make a building by cutting a hole from an old container like a large yogurt pot. Now this is where your tot gets to be as creative and decorate their mini world. Make sure you have plenty of loose parts for your tot to select from like pebbles, sticks, pinecones, jar lids, rags, shells, buttons, wooden blocks, etc. For inspiration you may want to check out the photos of the ones Wilbur and I did. To make the worlds look like they had trees, we transplanted a few weeds from our garden. Wilbur decides to make a fairy café. This led to him spending ages making “hazel nut stew” in an old bucket from mud, gravel, and the ashes from our barbeque! He then had great fun destroying his mini world with his digger toy. Secretly, I was horrified by this, but destruction is all part of the learning!
When doing Forest School training, we are encouraged to play the role of a small child who is told the story of a dragon that destroys a fairy village. We are then led into an opening in the woods to find several damaged mini dens. Our job is to repair this world, so the villagers can return to live. This was a positive and empowering experience. There were no time constraints, right or wrongs and there were plenty of loose parts to use. When you play with loose parts, you enter a world of “what ifs”, problem solving and reasoning. This is true even for tots. So, to encourage your tot, you could start making a story about who might live in their new world. Or perhaps you have a book that you could read about fairies. Playing with your child in this way can be a magical experience for you both.