Creative play is one of the most important components of learning in an early childhood classroom. The more I work with young children and teach my own preschoolers, I understand how critical it is to make time for creative play. Not only does creative play facilitate wonderful learning experiences, it teaches children how to use their imagination. When given the choice of watching tv or playing with toys, my little ones almost always choose to play with their educational toys. It is not always easy to incorporate creative play into your routine in your classroom or at home. Here are some ways that I try to get my little ones to learn something new every day.
- Select toys with a purpose - Kids love to role play. From birth, kids are watching their parents cook, clean, and do everyday tasks. When selecting toys to encourage creative play, think about what your children enjoy. For example, from an early age, my kids love watching and helping me cook. Cooking toys give kids the opportunity to role play. There are many other toys designed to encourage different types of role players such as play cash registers, costumes, and play furniture.
- Play and walk away - I love to participate with my kids during their activities, but I can't always time long periods of time to play. When I know I can't pretend to be the librarian for an extended amount of time, I will briefly help start the play scenario and then go to work on another task. This has also helped my little ones gain independence and allows me time to get things done.
- Mix things up - I am guilty of not rotating toys and rearranging thing. Kids enjoy exploring and playing with new toys. Even toys that kids are familiar with can be like new again if they are reintroduced or are presented in a new way.