Build Your Own 'Small World' at Home


Small world play is a fantastic tool for supporting children’s development in the early years. Used as a story prompt or scene for the retelling of a favourite book, it can be invaluable in helping young children make sense of literacy in a tactile way. And it's super easy to create your own small world at home using just a few simple resources...

By adding a few extra materials to the mix it’s possible to extend their learning even further and incorporate all areas of the EYFS – from Understanding the world to personal, social and emotional development.

Here are a few easy small world play scenes that could be good starting points for you to try at home. The sky’s the limit with small world play – any story, character, theme, habitat, or real-life experience can be created with simple materials and toys with a little imagination.

Simple steps to follow...

- You will need to start with a large shallow container such as a tuff spot, under-bed storage box or a cat litter tray. Something with a lid may be best so you can store it away and play again and again!

- You will also need some kind of floor covering. So you could use sand, artificial grass, felt, coloured fabric, compost, tin foil, dried pulses, dried cereal or aquarium gravel to create a landscape

- You could even include blue cellophane in an under the sea small world, or a plastic container filled with water to create a pond or lake

- Then you can add in some greenery with artificial plants, small house plants, leaves and flowers. As well as branches, pine cones, rocks and shells

- Now you can add some character to your small world by adding some animals and maybe some people! You could use cut out pictures on lolly sticks, lego people or small figures

Take a look at some theme ideas below to get you started...

To create an Antarctic small world, make ice bergs by filling containers with water and freezing them. You could also add some blue food colouring to create icy blue water. Or try adding green food colouring to create a pond theme, and line the bottom of the container with green aquarium stones.

Large plant pots and old tyres are perfect for creating an outdoor small world experience. Fill them with compost or sand to create these simple ideas.

Construction sites are super easy to create within small world play. Combine two or three different floor coverings and throw in some JCBs and you're done! Endless hours of imaginative play...

So grab yourself some supplies and see what exciting small world you can create with your child!