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  • Writer's pictureMallory G Foster

Adventure from Home this Summer through Small World Play

I am SO excited to be teaming up with Nia of Floral and Fawna to bring families a unique summer camp-at-home experience this summer! On July 10th, we'll launch Camp Floral and Fawna which will include:

Nia of Floral and Fawna and her AWESOME creations! So thrilled to work with this awesome mama maker!
  • The Camp Floral and Fawna Activity Guide: This downloadable camp includes daily schedules, activity guides for each day, supply lists, book suggestions, printables and more! (You can see the sneak peek here!) When you purchase the camp, you'll also find a code to join a Remind text group. If you're having trouble launching into a day of play or have a question about materials or directions, you can text me - think of me as your virtual camp counselor :). We'll start off with one week and build on using your feedback to make awesome future weeks of camp!

  • Floral and Fawna Camp Friends Drop: Nia will have an ADORABLE line of camp friends available on July 10th (scroll to see last year's "glampers" here). Her handmade, organic, dollhouse size critters sell fast and come in the sweetest outfits and designs! Nia makes these to be durable enough to go on plenty of adventures with the kiddos in our lives (here's her shop!)!

Why are we so excited about Camp Floral and Fawna? Between us, Nia and I have 30+ years of experience in working with kiddos and in education. Through interactive Facebook groups, lesson plans, activity calendars, handmade toys, and family life coaching, we seek to empower ALL families to have meaningful, joyful, creative moments together! Keep reading to learn specifically what excites us about small world play AND some tips for making it fun for us, the adults in kids' lives!

Though many of us are sticking close to home, that doesn’t have to limit our summer adventures! Small world play can look like building worlds with LEGOs, hosting tea parties for small stuffed animals, racing cars down the hallways in your house, and SO MUCH MORE. I loved small world play as a kiddo - making up stories and then creating accessories, houses, and more as I got older. Recently, HG started to fall in love with small world play too and I was so grateful! We've found comfort in imagining adventures with family and joy in making homes for adorable Floral and Fawna friends. We encourage you to dive into small world play too, and here's why:

  • We can fit entire universes in our home with small toys. When we can't travel far, we can bring the world into our own home. For example, our kitchen is Virginia, the dining room table is Oahu, the patio is a fairy garden... We might be at home more, but we can create the places we long to visit on a small scale where we are.⁣⁣

  • We can cope with big feelings and stay connected with loved ones aided by play. Playing with small toys lets us pretend to visit friends we miss or to invent new friends. Once HG is lost in play, I back off & give her space, but I listen to the scripts in her play. I hear when she makes her toys visit the same people over & over or when she tests out a new conversation with a small friend⁣⁣.⁣ Later, we'll talk about the people we miss and we'll spend time writing them letters or doing a video chat.

  • Small world play can boost empathy. Last winter at #Tinkergarten, we explored the idea that caring for small friends boosts empathy. Watching HG be gentle with socks filled with rice is the coolest⁣⁣. ⁣⁣⁣⁣We can play with toys that are diverse, opening the door to anti-biased and anti-racist conversations in ways that are relevant to the kiddos in our lives (Which toys do we look like? Our friends? Is it fair for one of our toys to always be last down the toy slide? etc).

  • When we bring the world inside (or on hikes or on our patio), we open up new ways to learn! We can learn about all kinds of things - habitats, geography, needs vs wants, different traditions, simple machines... all through small world play! ⁣⁣⁣⁣We can make animal homes, create slides and swings for small toys, create parties and festivities for our small friends, figure out what makes a house sturdy and strong, the learning possibilities are endless!

Excited to explore Camp Floral and Fawna? Check out the sneak peek here!

You can read more about the benefits of small world play here. Here are some of my tips for small world play (from an earlier blog post here):

  • Let learners lead: Notice interests of your learner/s. Maybe at a museum, they stare in awe at huge dinosaurs or they love walking through a butterfly house or running through a space shuttle model. What can you do to invite learners to explore their interests in a realistic scale right in your backyard or living room or classroom?

  • Keep it simple: Yes, you can go on Pinterest and find the most amazing small worlds - oceans, barns, dinosaur walks, etc. AND, you can also lay out a tablecloth or towel and some animals and blocks and see what happens. (Don't have any animals? Paint rocks!) If it brings you joy to create a small world, then go for it! Sometimes, I'll set something up while HG is napping for her to play with. However, I find that she is more interested if she creates the small world with me OR alongside me. For example, we like to make little forts out of sticks for toys when we are outside. I'll add a stick, she'll try, we work together. She takes over, I move a few feet away and start another one and then she comes and plays with that one when she's frustrated with hers (older kids can truly create some AWESOME small worlds on their own or with a little help - think Lego towns and shoe box dollhouses). Functional and engaging > pretty.

  • Step back so they can step forward: This goes back to letting learners lead. Kiddos can play on their own. It is our job to create the space to allow it. If your child loves the moon, maybe draw a white circle on a blacktop driveway or lay a light colored towel over a dark blue one and say, "OHHH LOOK! This looks like the moon! What toys might like to play on the moon?". Older kids (2.5+) might run with this. Little ones might be like, "What on Earth are you talking about? That's a white blob on the ground, I'm going to go run" - and that's fine too. If your child is ready to slow down and interested in small world play, modeling play might work great! Make sure you have at least two toys (even if yours is literally a clothespin or rock) so you can each have your own. Start exploring the landscape you and/or your learner/s have created. See what they start to do. If they invite you into their version of the small world, join in. An invitation could be them interacting with you (verbally or non-verbally) or their toy interacting with you or your toy verbally or non-verbally. If their astronaut travels to Earth by swimming, swim. There's no need to correct an imagined world, yet you could try, "Oh! We're swimming across the dark space like you can swim across a lake" - this respects their play AND sneaks in some facts.

Sometimes all you need is a pot of water to let a small world unfold (and you can talk about the science of sink and float and notice if your toys like getting wet or not :)
  • Extend the play: Tell, write, and draw stories based on play scenarios. Again, after play, say, "Oh, you want to color? Can you draw for me what your dinosaurs did on their adventure? Can you tell me about it and I'll write the story?". Do all of your kiddo's fish fly? Maybe take a trip to pet store and watch what fish really do! When clean up time comes, make a game of counting toys or putting toys in containers too big or small to boost some numeracy skills.

  • Make it fun for you! Whether you sit nearby with a book you love, sketch what your kiddo is doing, snap a few photos, build a more elaborate scene, create a new doll or animal toy, find a way to enter into the periphery of your learner's world without taking over the play so that you are ready to adventure with them and able to notice what is happening as they desire.

  • Celebrate the outcomes: Notice what new words, themes, emotions, etc, surface in your learners' play. Share these at a family meal or just in a conversation as you clean up. Notice how you feel. Is your creativity growing? Do you remember how you used to play with small worlds and toys? Are you more happy? More able to notice small things?

We are so excited about Camp Floral and Fawna and we hope you are too! If you don't want to miss out, join the head to the Floral and Fawna facebook group here. Ready to jump in to small world play? Set a small world friend in a silly place (a mixing bowl, on top of a bookshelf) and see what stories and lay unfold! Share pics and tag us (@floralandfawna and @watchwonderbloom)!

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