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Posted by Katie oGrady

Learning through play – the Boys & Girls Nursery way: Small world play

Research shows that the most effective way for children to learn is through play.  Play underpins the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity.

At Boys & Girls Nursery we understand that for children to learn through play they need to feel safe, secure and confident.  We provide a fun and stimulating environment which offers a wide range of opportunities to inspire young children in our care. Our continuous development allows children to grow in all areas of the EYFS ensuring they are school ready.

Here are some examples showing how we encourage children to learn through small world play:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
    Children will use small world play to re-enact different experiences to help them to reflect on feelings and events while feeling safe and secure. They can also explore and experiment lots of different emotions and act out these scenes in their play. It is also an excellent way to practice social skills where children can play with each other, learn to take turns, listen to someone else’s ideas and compromise.
  • Physical Development
    There are lots of opportunities to build fine motor skills and increase control during small world play – a dolls house has lots of doors, drawers and small furniture, cars and trains can be pushed and pulled around a track and farm animals can enjoy a wash in the water tray.
  • Communication and Language
    Small world play is fantastic for building language. As children are imagining they are talking out loud and using vocabulary. They will also use the small world characters to mimic voices and animal sounds.
  • Literacy
    Small world play can help bring stories to life – using various toy figures can help to explain complex situations found in books.
  • Mathematics
    Small world play helps to develop children’s numeracy skills by giving lots of opportunities for grouping or sorting items into shapes, colours or sizes and counting them.  Children will also have the opportunity to develop an understanding of measurement, shapes, spaces, positions, early numbers, order and patterns.
  • Understanding the World
    There are always problems for children to solve during small world play – fitting lots of people in to a small car for example. By reasoning and experimenting, children will soon learn to overcome these problems. Children also get the chance to explore certain ideas in the world, how a hospital operates differently from a police station for example.
  • Expressive Arts and Designs
    Small world characters and vehicles can be used during creative play to make wheel marks or footprints. Children can explore colours and patterns by looking at different animals and re-creating these using lots of craft materials. By adding characters to a malleable tray children can create patterns in sand, shaving foam or paint.