Unstructured free play is the best kind of game for young children. This is a creative game that just happens, depending on what catches your child’s interest at the time. Free play allows your child to use his moves at his pace and to use his imagination, it is not planned. Unstructured play could be: Exploring a new or favorite play space. Imaginative games, such as building houses with boxes or blankets, dressing up or pretending. Quality creative play alone or with others, including artistic or musical games. You can be part of your child’s unstructured play, or not. Sometimes all you have to do is point them in the right direction: to the jumble of clothes and toys on the floor, or to the table with crayons and paper. Sometimes you may need to be a little more active. Suggesting: ‘How about playing dress up? What would you like to be today? ‘
Structured game it’s different. Most of the time it is led by an adult. It is more organized and takes place in a predetermined space or at a fixed time. Examples of quality structured play can be some modified sports for slightly older children, such as cricket, basketball, netball. Or, dance, music or theater classes for children of all ages. Water familiarization courses for toddlers or swimming lessons for older children – you may see these as important lessons for your child, but they may just think they are fun. Storytelling groups for preschoolers and children at the local library. Board or card games for families. As your child grows, the way he plays will change: he will become more creative and experiment more with toys, games and ideas. This could mean they need more space and time to play. Also, children move through different forms of play as they grow up. This includes playing alone, playing with other children, and interactive play with other children.
For children, the best toy is you. Just looking at your face and hearing your voice is a game for your new baby, especially if you’re smiling. You could try the following play ideas and activities with your little one: music, songs, gentle strokes on your baby’s tummy as you sing, bells or containers filled with different objects, these activities can help develop hearing and movement. Sturdy furniture, balls, toys or boxes can make your baby crawl, stand and walk. Objects of different sizes, colors and shapes can encourage your baby to reach out and grab. Regular play on the floor and tummy time are very important for your baby’s development. This helps your baby develop movement control by strengthening the muscles of the head, neck and body.
Here are some ideas Your Child may like: boxes, circles, large rocks or pillows are good for climbing, balancing, twisting, swaying or rolling. Hills, tunnels, or corners can encourage physical activities such as crawling and exploring. Large, light things like cardboard boxes, pails or inflatable balls, or sofa cushions can encourage your child to run, build, push or drag. Chalk, rope, music, or containers can encourage jumping, kicking, stomping, stepping, and running. If you play your favorite music while your baby plays, he can also experiment with different sounds and rhythms. You may also like to sing, dance, and clap to music with your child.
Get your preschooler Mind and Body in Motion: Playdough and clay help your baby develop fine motor skills. Simple puzzles and matching games like animal dominoes help improve your child’s memory and concentration. Old milk containers, wooden spoons, empty potted plant containers, sticks, crumpled paper, plastic buckets, pots and old clothes are ideal for imaginative and unstructured play. Balls and Frisbees can encourage kicking, throwing, or rolling. When you encourage your child to kick or throw, try to get him to use one side of his body, then the other. Favorite music or pots and pans are great for a dance concert or composing music.
School age children cand have fun with the following items and activities, homemade obstacle courses can make your baby move in different ways, directions and speeds. Cooking or preparing food as simple as measuring, mixing and serving food is great for developing math and everyday skills. Furniture, linens, laundry baskets, curtains and boxes are great for construction. Your child’s imagination. With imagination, your child can transform into a favorite superhero or character from a storybook. Rhymes or games like ‘I spy with my little eye, something that starts with …’ are great for puns and help develop literacy skills.
“Free play and exploration are, historically, the means by which children learn to solve their problems, control their lives, develop their interests and become competent in pursuing their own interests.” – Peter Gray, Professor research, Department of Psychology, Boston College
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