Arctic Small World Play in a Suitcase

Here’s how to create an Arctic small world in a suitcase for imaginative play on the go! Perfect as a creative gift for kids this Christmas that you can make yourself with minimal effort but maximum wow factor! The possibilities for what you can create are as limitless as your imagination.

As you will know by now, I am a huge lover of all things miniature and small world imaginative play is one of my all time favourite types of play for children. The learning opportunities linked with small world play are awesome, including storytelling, creative writing prompts, scientific discovery and social skills (to name just a few.) I thought how great it would be to organise some of our many small world toys into themed sets in little boxes, not only to keep them sorted and accessible, but also so that they can become portable and great for taking to restaurants and on long journeys.
So I did some research and finally found the exact mini suitcases that I was after at this craft shop on eBay, made from a hardened type of paper mache that is a perfect blank canvas for painting and decorating the inside of! Oh the possibilities, what to choose and where to start?! An Arctic scene for winter, that’s where!

Edited to add: [You can find a similar set of suitcases here on Amazon too, otherwise just use a shoe box!)

I started by simply painting the inside of the box with ordinary, washable white paint to represent the snow and ice. Then I squeezed some PVA/ white glue into a simple wiggly outline and covered it with silver glitter, shaking off the excess when dry. On the opposite side I used blue glitter glue to create a frozen lake and left both to dry overnight.

Into the box I added some highly tactile and visually appealing materials that will offer open-ended and creative play opportunities, without being overly prescriptive.
These included:
cotton wool balls
shredded iridescent plastic/ paper (I found this in the gift wrap section)
silver ball bead garlands
various silver plastic baubles
I deliberately made sure all of the elements are loose and not stuck down into a diorama so that they can be played with in any way that the girls choose, without the restrictions of my own imagination.
The materials simply go into the box and wait to be arranged and played with during small world play imaginative games!
I am leaving the outside of the box completely plain as I think it looks lovely as it is, with no clue to the surprise mini- habitat contained within it! You could alternatively paint a little scene on the outside or write a title if you are planning to make a whole collection (which I am!)
I can’t wait to give this to them on Christmas day! I have 3 more suitcases just waiting to be turned into other habitats and imaginative play-scapes! I am currently making one for my nephews which I will also share with you soon.
 What would you put into a little suitcase like this?
If you liked this you might like the dinosaur version too!

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