I am always seeing these invitations to play and small world play ideas springing up all over the blogosphere and they look amazing! I do sporadically set these sorts of things up, usually invitations to create or a playdough inspired invitation to play (Lily’s favourite is the playdough bakery!). I am going to try and include a lot of these invites over the summer and just in general with my son (23 months). Poor boy. The time we have just the two of us is usually taken up by walking the dog, general chores and sorting out orders for the shop. I have decided to try and set up one activity a day in the mornings when Lily is at school. This might be attending a play session (our local library does a great toddler story/craft time) or setting up something at home. Even if he spends just thirty minutes on an activity, that is thirty minutes of my undivided attention, when I’m not attempting to load the dishwasher or answer a work email!! As part of that I have asked family members to buy as a few play items that can help me set these small world play scenes up (a few animal sets and some sensory items).
Back to the scene at hand. I used a large under bed storage box and in there I put our Gothic City Blocks, some dried beans, that we store in a jar and when I can bear to deal with the inevitable pouring of beans all over the floor at some point in the playing, then I bring them out, and also 3 construction vehicles. If I had enough time, I probably would have created more of a cityscape with the blocks, as I’m sure there would have been much enjoyment in bulldozing those! However, I brought the plastic box into the playroom and already Isaac was really excited and as soon as I started putting items in the box he was already starting to play! He seemed to mostly concentrate on the beans, I think this is because they so rarely get brought out, where as he will often play with the blocks. He started by putting the beans into the vehicles.
I noticed that he wasn’t using the vehicles too much so I pushed one of them along into the beans to show him how it scooped them up. He then really enjoyed driving the vehicles around and then picking them up and pouring the beans back out.
It was interesting to see how his play developed. There was a point where he had started to take a few beans and throw them out. I talked to him about not throwing the beans and instead placing them, or tidying them back in. In fact on this occasion, he seemed to prefer playing with the beans inside the large box. I’m not sure if it was the size of the box, or that usually we do a lot more scooping and pouring and that just lends itself more to “whoo look I’m pouring the beans all over the place”. The odd time he spilled any beans on the floor, he would go “uh-oh! mess!” and start tidying them back in, making a bit of a game of it. I think the purposeful throwing, was more of a sign that he was a bit bored or tired of playing with the set up.
He then decided to start taking the blocks out and put them “way” (another phrase he seems to have picked up!) in their storage container. I wondered if this was his way of saying that he didn’t really want to have the blocks in his bean box…but I think it was just a yearning for his natural instinct to put things in groups or take items in and out of boxes.
He then decided he wanted to do the same thing with the beans and started taking them out of the box a handful at a time and put them back into the jar. I should probably point out that both the block storage and the bean jar were away on the shelf and he asked for them. Again I thought perhaps, this was his way of saying “hey, mum! I’m finished now” but as he continued to put handfuls from the box to the jar and back again, I realised he was still just in the mood for pouring!
The other thing he seemed to be really interested in was the lid to the jar. He isn’t able to put the lid on and off of the jar by himself. He would have a go and then demand that I do it for him. Then he would try to undo it, again ask me to do it and then he would try all over again. I am always thoughtful about these sorts of activities. I sometimes think that as great as it is, that they are really interested in learning these skills, it is actually quite handy to have at least a few types of container that they can’t get into!!!
It is amazing how much you learn when you really take the time to have play time without distractions. I really enjoyed letting Isaac take the lead and develop the activity how he wanted to, but starting to learn signs that I might need to step in every now and then and give suggestions.
- Learn more about creating Invitations to Play over at The Imagination Tree and use #invitationtoplay. Anna also posted about this Play Dough Construction Site Small World Play this week!
- If you want to know more about creating creative invitations to play, you might also want to look at The Creative Table Project over on Tinkerlab use #creativetable.
- With a focus on language, this post over at Twodaloo will help get you started with Small World Play
- If you looking for more ideas for Small World Play, then Fun At Home With Kids, will not disappoint you! Some really fab ideas here!
I’m looking forward to sharing some of our ideas and experiences with small world play over the summer!