On Tuesday we talked about our favorite toys for 0-3, if you missed it make sure to check it out!
Play is SO important. It is the primary occupation of a child, so we want to foster it as best we can. That doesn’t mean we have to be on the floor playing with them 24/7 but it means providing them with toys that stimulate their thinking, bring out their imaginary play, and foster creativity. Play needs to be taught, so it means playing with them, teaching them new experiences and teaching them to play independently.
Play happens in a sequence-
- Unoccupied play: this starts at birth, with those random movements infants make, like accidentally kicking the hanging animal from the play mat.
- Independent play: Starts in infancy and is common in toddlers, children start to play on their own. When engaged in solitary play, children do not seem to notice other children sitting or playing nearby during this type of play. This type of play never stops, independent play is healthy throughout life!
- Onlooker Play: This happens most frequently during the toddler years, but can happen at any age. This stage is when children watch others play. The child who is looking at the others who are playing may ask questions of other children, but there is no effort to join the play.
- Parallel Play: Parallel play is usually found with toddlers, although it happens in any age group. Parallel play starts when children begins to play side-by-side with other children without any interaction. Even though it seems like they are not interacting, they are paying attention to each other.
- Associative Play: At around three to four years of age, they eventually become more interested in the other children rather than the toys. At some point, a child will start interacting more with the other child they are playing with.
- Social Play: This happens around age three or four. They begin to share ideas and toys, and follow established rules and guidelines. They can work together to build something or play a simple game together. This is where a child learns and practices social skills, like cooperating, being flexible, taking turns, and solving problems.
Between ages 3-5 we would expect more associative and social play, as well as independent play. The toys below our some of our favorites to foster this type of play.
- Kinetic Sand: Not only is this a GREAT sensory toy, but there are so many things kiddos can do with it. Hide dinosaurs in it and dig for fossils, write letters in it or drive cars through it.
- Play People: The options are endless with play people, let kids use their imagination and create games with them or act out different scenarios. Kids can take turns being different people or making up a game.
- Magna-tiles: These are 100% worth the price, they are endless entertainment and can be use to build so many different things.
- PlayDoh: Another great sensory option, but also can be used to practice making letters, use it with cookie cutters, or let them go crazy mixing colors together and doing as they please!
- Melissa and Doug Scissor and Tape Skills books: These are great independent play toys, especially if you need to cook dinner or get something done around the house. They help develop fine motor and bilateral coordination skills, while being fun!
- K’nex: A great building toy, that works on motor planning, bilateral coordination and fine motor skills.