The Purpose of Play –

Play is an essential part of development for children. Engaging in play develops a variety of skills including creativity, motor abilities, spatial awareness, and social capacities. One component of play is being able to figure out how to use toys in a variety of ways and for a variety of purposes. For example, a child might play pretend by sleeping under a blanket; they might use this same blanket as a cape or as a parachute. Engaging in play in such ways allows a child to problem solve and engage for longer periods of time with greater independence. It also supports the development of a child’s planning skills, which is one foundation for higher level organization and learning.

Ideas to Explore

Some children benefit from supports with expanding their play ideas. Some ways to consider supporting their play include –

  • Have toys available that can be used in a variety of ways – building materials, large foam blocks, hula hoops, cones, etc.
  • Model using toys in different ways with your child – for example, the blocks can be a tower or be used as steppingstones
  •  For younger children or for children who are just learning to expand their play, allowing natural experiences to guide this process can also be helpful. For example, figuring out how to get a ball that rolled under a table. They might benefit from repetition of an activity or action.
  • Allow opportunities for active observing other playing with toys in different ways – “Jack is rolling the hoop and now he is climbing through it.”

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