An invitation for toddlers and preschoolers
The funny thing is, if I make a small world for Z these days, she straight up wont play with it. However if I present her with a box of items and play dough, she is all about it! At the ripe old age of 3.8 years, she likes to have control over her play and I’m more than happy to provide her with the tools to do that.
We have recently been reading about woodland after Usborne books kindly gifted us a set of books themed around the outdoors. Her favourite is the Woodland book – which i’ll share over on Instagram soon. Due to this new interest in woodland creatures, I put together a play dough box for her to explore.
I only ever put these boxes together based on the interests of the children. If you introduce something new or something they aren’t currently interested in, the play tends to fall flat, so pay close attention to their current interests. A book could be a stimulus or even a recent trip you have undertaken otherwise it would be completely out of context for your little one.
In the box:
- Coffee play dough
- Cinnamon play dough
- Wood discs (bought from a craft store)
- Pine cones
- Assortment of animals typically found in woodland
The box itself lends itself so well to a variety of small world play set ups. If you’re interested, its the GLIS IKEA box.
What to do:
Because Z likes to choose the direction of play, I usually just present the box to her so that she can choose the direction of play.
Letting children decide on their own way to play can be difficult as an adult. Perhaps there is a preconceived idea of how the play should go but it is important not to get involved unless specifically asked to by your child.
For example, in this scenario, I would’ve guessed that Z would use the pine cones as trees however, she didn’t even take them out of the box. Instead, she wanted to print the animals feet into the dough and look at their paw prints – again this is something she’d seen in the woodland animals book.
- Making links to the world around us – in this case, the woodland habitat
- Sensory Play
- Language development – naming animals and objects, describing their footprints
- Sorting – matching footprints
- Hand strength and fine motor – manipulating the play dough
- Creative thinking – control over the direction of play
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