I love small world play. Watching my children escape into another world is so fun to watch.
One of the very first small worlds I set up was a duck pond. Sicily was around 20 months when I first set this up.
Since she was so young, there wasn’t much of a story line to her small world, but she gained some valuable skills while exploring the materials.
I set up the small world inside one of our sensory bins by just placing water in it. Then in a divider tray, I added rocks, glass gems, fake leaves, and ducks. (Small pieces can be a choking hazard. Please keep a close eye on young children.)
I just left everything sit out to see what she would do with it. Being a young age and not really having an imagination yet, Sicily just threw everything into the water.
It was fun to watch because she started to notice the sink and float concept. She tried to push the ducks and leaves under the water with the rocks. She was getting quiet frustrated when they wouldn’t stay.
She made a lot of duck sounds, but didn’t really make the ducks swim. I’m going to try this small world again in the future since her imagination will be more developed.
I would make a few changes for next time though. I would add sticks and maybe some other pond creatures like turtles and fish. We have a duck pond close to our house that I would like to visit before introducing this small world to her. Having the background knowledge will help her make more sense of the objects I present her with.
Small worlds are great ways to develop pre-reading skills like comprehension, understanding plot, and characters. These skills also come in handy when they begin to write stories.
Not to mention, small worlds give children a chance to explore what they have experienced in the real world and begin to understand a variety of different concepts like sink/float.