Play is the work of childhood

Play is the work of childhood: Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children

Play is the work of childhood.”  Jean-Piaget

Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children

We know that play is a huge part of your child’s development. I have explained the importance of play and shared various types of play ideas for your little one. My name is Maggie and I am extremely passionate about sensory/messy play.

The messier the better I say.  I run @explore_learn_ireland on Instagram where I share my day to day activities. I love finding new inspiration. I work in a full-day- care service and I have been in The Early Years Sector for 12 years. I have also shared a list of various types of sensory play ideas.

Play is fun, children learn through self-play it’s the child’s choice as to when, what and how to play freely. Play allows children to be independent, take responsibility, have control and enhances their self-esteem. Play also helps children to be able to interact with others and it helps children solve any problems that they may have. For example within the home corner children can act out how they are feeling threw puppets.

Play based learning is an essential process that helps children to learn.  Play allows children to be engaged in the activity actively.  Play also helps children to develop for example; cognitive development- helps children to sue their thinking skills in games like jig-saws or building a tower – where to put the next block and doing peg board activity.

Peg Board Activity

Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children

 

Children need, sound, touch, smell, taste as well as visual stimulation.   Children learn to work as part of a team and to play together this helps develop the children’s social development.

When children are describing a story or answering a question based on a story this helps develop children’s language. Outdoor play is another fundamental way to learning as it gives children the opportunity to explore natural materials and allows them to move around and be active. It allows children to take a risk or challenge and gives them the opportunity to investigate.

Nature Trail

Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children

An example of children’s play is a child doing a painting, this is letting the child explore by doing the activity. The child is able all the different colours available for the child and is able to mix the colours to create different shades this is part of their creativity. The child is using their fine motor skills whilst doing the activity, when they are moving the paint brush up and down the page this is part of their Physical development.

The child is also using their imagination and being creative as they create their painting, this helps them with their Intellectual development. The child also has to think of what colour they want to use to create their picture this is part of their Linguistic development.

The child is socially involved when doing the activity, they are interacting to other children explaining what they and painting. This example shows how by doing a simple painting activity it can enhance the child’s development in many areas.

Various ways to use paint

Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children

 

Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children

Water Play

It helps the child to do things by themselves by using real life materials. The child can also play at their pace. It also enhances child’s development and helps them to learn through work and play. The child is using their fine motor skills whilst doing the activity. They are pouring water from a jug into a tunnel, they are also using their hand eye coordination while holding the just and are concentrating on pouring the water, and this helps the child’s physical development.

The child will also be developing their intellectual development, the child can add food colouring to the water for special occasions for example green for St. Patrick’s Day and furthermore it helps the child to establish the sense of size/amount of water whilst pouring it and it helps build their imagination. Linguistic development is where the child is communicating with each other whilst doing the activity.

The child shows excitement by being able to play with water, the child also shows great interest in playing with the water this is part of their Emotional development. The child is also developing their social development, they are interacting with their peers and they are playing as a group.

 

Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children Open-Ended Play Opportunities for Young Children

 

 

Play is the work of childhood Play is the work of childhood Play is the work of childhood

 

Types of play

Messy play

Helps children learn about the natural world and also learn about different textures

Play is the work of childhood

Sensory play

Stimulates the child’s senses such as touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing

Play is the work of childhood

Play is the work of childhood

Imaginative play

Make believe, fantasy or pretend, children are role playing or acting out various experiences that may have an interest to them.

Play is the work of childhood

Play is the work of childhood

List of Sensory Play Ideas

  • Painting
  • Rice
  • Marshmallows
  • Ice-Cubes
  • Play dough
  • Multi-Sensory gloop
  • Water and sand play
  • Whipped cream
  • Gloop
  • Children’s soapy foam
  • Jelly play
  • Sensory bins
  • Water beads
  • Hard Pasta
  • Spaghetti play – coloured
  • Custard & Cocoa powder
  • Sensory bottles/sensory bags              –
  • Moon sand

Author Bio

Maggie has worked in Early Childhood Education and Care for over 12 years. She has a passion for messy and sensory play. Follow her on Instagram for more exciting content @explore_learn_ireland.
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