Working Through Emotions With Small World Play

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A little over a week ago my daughter fell and fractured her wrist, a buckle fracture right next to her growth plate. Since then, her emotions have been all over the place, from giggly and happy straight into these angry outbursts. It’s been a hard adjustment and we’ve all had to work together, more than ever to help her understand that her body will heal and she is not broken.

In order to work through these BIG emotions, we’ve changed direction to something small. Small world play, that is. Small worlds have been an important part of our preschool home education and daily rhythm for a while now, but this activity is currently holding a new level of importance.

Why turn to small world play to help with big emotions?

Traumatic situations can make handling life a little more difficult, for anybody. It’s only natural for emotions to be heightened after a traumatic event. Allowing children to learn to work through those situations is vital in their development, which can be really hard to do in the heat of those feelings.

Because small world play has been such a huge part of our lives already, it was a no brainer for me to turn to this loved activity to help work through these times. By creating a small world environment for my daughter to explore, I am creating a safe and nonjudgmental place for her to reenact the things happening in her mind. She’s able to convey her frustrations as if they are the frustrations of her toys.

Now, this isn’t to say that she just has a bunch of angry toys! Her Li’l Woodzeez Monkey Family and their Honeysuckle Hillside Cottage are top contenders in our small worlds and they have been through a rollercoaster of toddler emotions! They’re the real MVPs, honestly.

Mommy Monkey is amazing at helping Big Sister calm her moods with deep breathing exercises and Daddy Monkey loves to play games with Big Sister and Baby Brother. Because these small worlds are so safe and emotions are able to be worked through freely, I get to see my toddler put into motion the coping mechanisms that I provide her with on a daily basis. Every time she acts these scenarios out, she gets a little better with handling them in real life!

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood”

~ Mr. Rogers

Creating A Small World

The great thing about creating small worlds is that they can be as abstract or as realistic as you want! They can even be tied into sensory play activities.

We like to use a lot of craft supplies in our little universes we create. Feathers propped up in the carpet make great trees and popsicle sticks are a great alternative to creating roads. If you don’t have a doll house, you can turn an old Amazon box into a hidden castle deep in the forest! My favorite part of using abstract materials to create real life objects is that it encourages a child’s imagination and pushes them to think out of the box. Putting those problem solving skills to use!

This kind of play comes naturally to children, so don’t feel intimidated thinking you need to create these pinterest perfect environments! One of our favorite scenes we created was an old box that we sloppily glued together!

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9 thoughts on “Working Through Emotions With Small World Play

  1. Interesting ideas! play is a great way to help kids process their big emotions and lets you understand your child more.

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