Super-quick (and cheap!) portable small world play

I bought some second hand and variously-sized plastic animals and dinosaurs off eBay and a charity shop. I originally wanted to make sensory bottles for The Child (inspiration from Modern Parents Messy Kids), but after an initial bout of interest, she — frankly — couldn’t really be arsed with them any more.

She has got to the age where imaginary play has started to take hold, so I looked up small world play, and while many of the ideas look beautiful, I simply do not have the time — nor patience — to hand sew, or even glue, these creations.

Enter the cheapskate’s version that is adaptable and you won’t cry if you lose bits.

Super-quick (and cheap) portable small world play

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Plastic box or takeaway container, something that will fit nicely in a bag (and has a lid that closes properly);
  • Felt in a few colours (corrugated cardboard and cardboard from cereal boxes will also do);
  • Scissors (I used embroidery scissors because I was working with felt)
  • Miniature dinosaurs, safari animals, zoo animals, farm animals (one or any or all of the above); and
  • Scene-setting elements like packing material, large pebbles, glass pebbles, winged seeds, whatever you’re able to pick up.

First, cut a piece of felt or cardboard to make a base for your small world. I eyeballed it against the bottom of my box because my tailor’s chalk was in another room and while The Child was playing at washing her Duplo, I could tell her absorption in the activity was beginning to wane.

Then, cut out other shapes to help set the scene. I had blue, so I made a pond, and green for bushes / grasses. We also have a pebble from the beach in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that The Child picked up when we were on holiday, and some packing material from a recent delivery.

Add your animals / dinosaurs to the box, and you’re done. I think this box took me less than five minutes to assemble. I plan to change bits around as The Child gets bored with its contents.

If you have more time / inclination to indulge your craftiness, here are some other ideas:

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