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Posted by Casey

Small World Play is such an important part of early childhood development and it has numerous benefits for your little learners. As your child explores a small world, they’ll be developing their creativity and imaginative thinking as they create story lines and scenes. Oral language skills are developed as they role-play and narrate their thinking.

Small World Play is also a wonderful way to initiate and encourage independent play. It’s also a whole bunch of fun to set up a small world invitation for your children and today I’d like to share a fun creepy crawly small world for sensory play!

First you’ll need to make a batch of dyed rice for the dirt. To dye the rice, you’ll need a bottle of Parisian Essence which you can find in the baking aisle at the supermarket; a packet of long grain rice; and a container with a lid for mixing.

Place the rice into the container and add a splash of the essence to the rice. Shake it around until all of the rice is coated. You may need to add more essence to get the desired shade of brown. You can also add a little bit of vinegar to help the colour stick. Once you’ve got the right shade of brown, lay the dyed rice out on some baking paper and leave it in the sun to dry. Next you can add the rice to a shallow tub ready for your small world.

Setting Up Your Small World

  • What you’ll need:
  • Creepy crawly toys (I love the small tubes from Kmart)
  • Artificial aquarium plants or plastic plants from the dollar store
  • Pebbles or rocks from the garden
  • Natural building blocks or twigs and logs from the garden
  • Leaves from the garden
  • Blue satin or fabric

When I set up a small world invitation, I like to start placing the larger objects down first. For this tub, I organised the logs and plants first and then scattered the smaller items around afterwards. Alternatively, you can get your little learners to help find suitable objects and have them set up the small world themselves!

My husband likes to set up his phone with it playing suitable relaxation music to encourage creative play. This week, we set up a magical fairy garden so he found some rainforest music to play. We’ve also used beach sounds for a pirate small world. This is a great way to add a sensory element to your small world play!

As you can see, it’s so simple to set up a small world invitation for your little learners using items you already have around the house, the supermarket and your local dollar stores. Your children will love using their imagination to create and explore as they play!

Literacy Extension

To extend the activity, you can print off the FREE creepy crawly sight word book printable from below! Simply print the page and have your little learner colour in the pictures. While you’re colouring, you can talk about the different creepy crawlies featured in the book to further develop their vocabulary and oral language skills.

Depending on their age, they can cut along the lines (or you can cut for them) and then assemble the pages into a book. You can then staple the pages for a mini sight word book all about creepy crawlies!

About the author

Casey is an early years teacher turned stay at home mum to three little learners aged 6 and under. She is passionate about supporting parents that want to use play as a vehicle to bond with their little learners and create magical memories of childhood! You can follow Casey on Instagram right here.


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