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Build a World - A Healing World!

Beccie Hawes shares how she used Alice Sharp's Eco Build a World to support a child in expressing their inner world through play.

Posted on Wednesday 25th January 2023

A view into the inner world of a child

Sometimes you see something and it really fires the imagination! When I first saw Alice Sharp’s Eco Build a World, the teacher in me saw many exciting and endless ways for children to create all kinds of locations, constructions, sculptures and pathways but the therapist in me saw something else. The therapist in me saw a way for a child to show me their own inner world – perhaps a world that they don’t yet have the words needed or the confidence to express their deeper needs, wants, wishes, worries and feelings.

With this in mind I was able to use Build a World and a selection of miniature small world to offer a young man who was finding school very difficult the opportunity to find his own solutions to start a healing process. The young man in question has kindly agreed that I can share this with you in the hope that it might help you to help some of the children that you support.  Those who perhaps need to feel a little bit better and a little bit safer than they do right now.

Incorporating small world

To start this healing journey, I offered the child a treasure trove of miniature small world resources which included people, animals, vehicles, construction objects, houses, traffic signs, trees and other assorted bits that could be used to express anything in his mind.

We played with the miniature small world resources, exploring which ones reflected our feelings and what they might mean. Then we added in the Build a World loose parts.

Once the child was confident with using the Eco Build a World loose parts pieces to construct, an invitation was given…

‘Can you make a world that shows why school is difficult for you right now?’

The child worked in purposeful silence to create the scene below:


Expressing our feelings and emotions

His world was described to as: ‘Me, on my own in my dark place and a no entry and stop sign that stop me from playing with the others. I can’t play with the other children because I feel so sad and low. The other children are all happy in their nice world with shiny things. They feel good and play together.’

Finding solutions

We moved on to explore how to deal with those ‘sad and low’ feelings. We worked on developing positive thinking skills and self-esteem.

The following week I was greeted with this world and the following explanation:

‘I’m feeling a lot better and a lot less sad. I did all the things we talked about and things feel happier. I am thinking that I might be able to play with the other children but I am not sure how to start it.’

We explored what sorts of things he might have in common with the other children and how he might share them. The child created a world that showed what this might look like:

A whole new world – a healing world

In our final session the child made his new world:

‘This is my happy, shiny and nice world. I am with the other children because I feel better about me and have things I can share with them!’


Sometimes giving our children the chance to show us instead of telling us, and the opportunity to think with their hands so that we can listen with our eyes can offer them a way of processing what is happening on a path of healing. It certainly worked here!

Beccie Hawes

With many thanks to Beccie Hawes for writing this blog.

Beccie has worked in all aspects of Special Educational Needs including mainstream, additionally resourced provision and specialist settings. She has extensive experience as a SENCo, Inclusion Manager, Lead Local Authority SEND Advisory Teacher and has set up and led an inclusion advisory service. Beccie is currently proud to be the Head of Service with Cadmus Inclusive part of Cadmus Services, based in Walsall.