Why are children drawn to small world play?

Small world play

My brother and I used to spend hours creating miniature worlds with whatever we could find. We’d take Mum’s plants off the window ledge to make a forest and act out various scenarios with little figures. I could really relate to Stevenson’s poem “The land of counterpane”! Later as a mother I watched my own children do the same. I wish now that I had recorded their conversations as they played. Sometimes they acted out stories they had heard and sometimes they made up their own. I have witnessed similar small world play in schools and nurseries, both indoors and out. It intrigues me – why do children seem universally drawn to such play?

Perhaps part of the answer is that in small world play, as in role play, children can re-live experiences and come to grips with whatever life is bringing their way.

Perhaps another part of the answer is that when children create these miniature worlds, they are the big people! That has all kinds of ramifications.

Yet another aspect is that in such play, as in fairy tales, imagination is the guide. I believe children’s imagination is one of their greatest strengths. I was thrilled to learn that Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge: “For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world.”

For more on small world play with blocks, watch the Foundations training video.

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