Understanding the World

How small world animals can inspire early role play

I’m sitting on the dayroom floor playing with Daisy and we are surrounded by her array of small world animals.  I can see a variety of animals from her wild animal collection and her Happyland sets that she’s had for nearly a year.  Daisy regularly plays with them in different scenarios including hiding them in her kinetic sand and washing them all at bath time.  Today her panda and the farmyard dog are visiting the policeman and Red Riding Hood in her house and everybody is ringing the doorbell and everybody is saying “Hello”, repeatedly.

Through her small world characters, Daisy is acting out what she experiences daily when she goes with Mummy to visit relatives and friends, and Daisy always has a friendly “Hello” for anybody calling at their house.

This is just one example of the role play that I’m starting to see as Daisy begins to copy the actions of adults to explore and make sense of the world around her.  Her toys and play equipment are essential ‘tools’ that enable her explorations.

At the end of the day, as we are packing away the Happyland house and characters, it occurs to me that although Daisy has plenty of wild animals and farm animals, where were the woodland animals?  Where is the hedgehog, the squirrel, the badger and all of the wild animals that Daisy knows of through stories such as Peter Rabbit and Pip and Posy.  These are the animals that are more familiar to her and the ones that she has and will see in the park and our garden.

Doing some research I found that Jo Jo Maman Bebe have a wooden set and Playmobil have a small set of woodland animals but to find a set of animals that are similar to Daisy’s existing play animals the choices are limited.  Extended internet searches and eventually I found that Yellow Door have a set of British woodland animals.


We purchased a set of these woodland animals for Daisy’s birthday and they are all perfect additions for her play.  She has quickly learnt about a badger and a stoat and she’s happy to finally have a squirrel and a hedgehog to carry around.


Daisy recently spotted squirrels rushing up a tree in the local park.  This set of play animals has given us opportunities to talk about the woodland animals and where they live, helping Daisy to understand more about her surroundings.

Granny Smith says

There are alternatives to having a set of woodland animals.  Baker Ross have Woodland Animal Sticker Scenes and Woodland Foam Stickers if your grand child enjoys stickers, though you do need to monitor this play as the sets include small parts.

There are colouring pages and photographs of local wildlife on the internet and you can use these to talk to your grandchildren about the living things in the area near you.

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