Our Backyard, Our Country


Exploring small world play

Materials Required

  1. Tray or tub
  2. Small bowls for each of the materials
  3. Sand and/or soil
  4. Flowers and seed pods
  5. Plant cuttings
  6. Sticks and rocks
  7. Plastic animals
  8. Sticks or rocks can be used as an alternative to set up your small world play, Use sticks and rocks as animals and people within the scene (optional)


Choose a subject for your small world that the child has experience or an interest in – Collect all the materials that you will be using – Place separate materials into separate bowls – Fill the tray with sand and soil.

Method (or Ideas)

  1. Select a location for the Small World Play to be set up.
  2. Place the tray with sand and soil on the low table.
  3. Place the bowls with materials nearby, within reaching distance.
  4. Start creating your own Small World Play scene.
  5. Play with your Small World with your child

Facilitation Tips – What To Say

  • “Remember, when we to the beach yesterday and collected some seed pods, rocks and sticks. Well, today I thought you and I can create a place for the small animals to live?”
  • Allow time for the child to decide and place the materials into the setting on their own. Provide support when asked by your child.
  • Create a problem that is happening to the Small World, such as “It is about to rain, what do you think the animals will do?”

Extend the Experience

  • The Small World Play topic can be from a recent family event, such as a birthday or holiday.
  • Children’s picture or non-fiction books provide facts and further information about the different objects in the scene.
  • Engage with the oldest surviving culture in the world. Explore First Nations Peoples by researching their culture and ways of being and knowing.
  • Learn the name of the Traditional Owners where you live. In Darwin, the Larrakia People are the traditional owners and custodians of the land.
  • Research and attend public celebrations organised by First Nations Peoples in your local community.
  • Visit the local library for picture storybooks by First Nations Authors that provide their Dreaming on the creation of country and creatures

WHO Guidelines for Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour

This activity offers the opportunity for young children along with their parents and/or carers to participate in a low level of physical movement.

The level of physical activity can be increased by incorporating a walk to find objects to use within the Small World Play

Early Years Learning Framework


  1. Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency
  2. Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment
  3. Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity


Principle 1: Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships. Through a widening network of secure relationships, children develop confidence and feel respected and valued.


Practice: Cultural competence. Cultural competence is much more than awareness of cultural differences. It is the ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.

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