We have collaborated with Community Playthings to turn the old Fire Station into a bespoke environment for children to develop and learn through play.
Children’s play tells us so much about development. In fact, we often determine where children are developmentally by watching them play. During toddlerhood, children are exploring the world around them, learning about themselves and others, building language and literacy skills, and learning to regulate their behaviour.
They do it all through PLAY.
Play offers children the opportunity to try on new behaviours, to see how they fit and then to add these behaviours to their skill repertoires.
Self-directed play can be:
-active (running round the playground on a bike path),
-quiet (looking at a book or cradling a doll),
-a combination (trying on Dad’s shoes and trying to walk in them).
Piaget divided play into three types of “play behaviour”
1. practice play,
2. symbolic play,
Practice play, the most common type of play during the first years of life, is composed of repetitions of the same movements and actions, both with and without objects. When a baby plays peek-a-boo, hiding his face behind a blanket, over and over again, this is practice play.
Symbolic play, they begin to recreate in their play the things they see in the world around them. They develop a sense of themselves as independent from their parents and caregivers and use play to explore being like these important people, as well as to experiment with being very different from them.
Toddlers are very capable of playing with intensity and creativity but the way they play is different from older children. They play in the moment, with the ideas that come to them from their experience or the environment. This play isn’t as recognisable as the socio-dramatic play of preschoolers. They may use one object to serve as another, get distracted from what they are playing when they discover a new prop or toy, or stop to watch others in mid-play. They pick up on others’ play ideas to make them uniquely their own. Although older toddlers are very interested in what other children are doing, much of toddler play is done alone, even if the classroom is full of children. And toddler play is highly repetitive.
Play with rules, toddlers are fascinated by other children and find watching their activities highly engaging and entertaining. Yet the ability to play with other children is just emerging—and needs support and encouragement from the trusted adults in their lives. When toddlers play, they subtly adjust the way they play to the play of their friends to keep the play going—an early indicator that they understand how others are feeling.
Toddlers love to role-play. They actually become the mummy or daddy or the growling bear, rather than acting like them, as they make use of the play props provided. Toys that are real items from the child’s world (purses, wallets, pots, pans, clothes, shoes, hats) are intriguing and support beginning role-play efforts. Toddler play needs these props—they invite children to play and give them ideas about where to start.
Some Top tips:
1. Play cues can come from many sources
2. The best source of play cues is you
3. The strategy for ‘inviting play’ is an excellent way to interest toddlers in new materials or props
4. The way in which toys are displayed also provides play cues
5. Place toys on low shelves
6. In clear plastic containers, baskets, or tubs so children can see what is available
7. Separating toys on shelves helps children consider each specific item
8. Too much clutter can distract from being able to focus on one item long enough to figure out what to do with it or how to use it. At home put some toys away and get them out at a later date.