Before I tell you about Small World Play, I want to give you some background. I’m in a Facebook group with other parents who have subscribed to the Positive Parenting Solutions coaching program. One of the tenets of the program is one-on-one time with each child in your household during which the parent lets go of other obligations, phones, and impulses to correct, and does exactly what the child wants to do. It’s called Mind, Body, Soul time (MBST) because the parent is supposed to be 100% present in Mind, Body, and Soul.
One of the threads that keeps popping up is brainstorms of things to do with your child for MBST. Did I mention it has to be screen-free? So no movie watching, even if that is together time.
I sent my husband a list of ideas for our household, including playing catch, playing keep-it-up with a balloon, drawing together, looking at their memory boxes, and other ideas that suit the ages of our two kids. Although I’m not very interested in my son’s trading cards, I can participate with him if I offer to help him organize them in notebooks.
When I stumbled onto this concept of “small world play” on a blog from New Zealand, I thought immediately of MBST. Small world play refers to creating little environments for pretending, similar to Playmobil, but by combining objects from around your house, existing toys from play sets, and maybe some found objects from the outdoors.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Assign a large tupperware container to the world you create so you can put it away and get it out again. And contain things like pebbles. (Alternative: make use of a divided container to inspire another style of play, like rooms or beds. These are meant for lunchbox purposes, but might be useful for a Zoo!)
Use fabrics to lay the foundation. Collaborate with your child to come up with the plans. We need green! Do you know where we keep the pillowcases? I think we have a green one.
Washcloths can be a body of water. Or rafts for cars that need to cross a river. Or anything.
Or use real water!
Suggest a theme, such as Dinosaur World or Fairy Land. (Read all the educational benefits of pretend play with small worlds at LittleWorldsCo.nz). I am so impressed by how she used a book to create a cave – just toss a blanket or cloth over it. Brilliant!
Then add layers of detail and texture. See that green cave back there? That’s the yellow book!
Rummage through holiday decorations and tchotchkes to find new props. Please enjoy this photo of my garage.
Use painter’s tape to mark off space for a parking lots.
Feeling brave? Buy some dried beans, lentils, or rice to add sensory play and texture. I have never been this brave. On Pinterest I’ve seen coffee beans (sounds expensive!), aquarium gravel, and craft store items like glass pebbles, used as bases for tub environments, but I think black eyed-peas or regular old beans would be cheapest.
photo from picklebums.com
Would this type of play be fun or torture for you? How about your child?