My girls generally aren't into small things play. They have a train set with buildings and cars. They have farm animals and sea animals, but they very rarely take them out and pretend with them. Today I suggested we do big paper drawing and take out some of our houses and small animals to go with it. We did a little of this last winter. I would draw train tracks and roads and the girls would add trees and lakes. Today I proposed a more involved set up inspired by our trips to coastal Maine.
To the far left of the paper is the ocean. Then a beach with streets leading up into a town and from there two streets leading off to the right into the countryside. The girls really got into this idea. Their drawings ranged from fairly realistic (like the farm scene) to pure fantasy (like the man with the really long snorkel fencing with a swordfish underwater) and included memories from our trips to Maine (like the Coastal Children's Museum). We used a lot of stickers. Last year Olivia was still not doing much drawing and stickers was how she participated in these activities. This year she is drawing a lot more and today she went back and forth between drawing and "stickering," as she calls it. Having multiple areas within the project worked out really well. At times all three of us were spread out each working on a different area, then we would find ourselves talking about and adding drawings to a specific area all together.
Overall we had a great time. It was nice to get out some small toys they don't normally play with and see how they could inspire drawings and stories.