Play has a primary role in creating the foundations for learning – and in particular imaginative play, such as dressing up or pretend role play, is a fantastic way to give children the creativity, freedom and inspiration they can’t always get in the real world.
In fact, new consumer research, commissioned by the makers of Piriton, reveals that 99% of parents say imaginative play is important to their child’s development. While the majority of parents polled would like to spend even more time engaged in imaginative play, the research showed that everyday pressures of work commitments and home are holding them back – and for mums, nearly a quarter say they lack inspiration when it comes to imaginative play. So, the makers of Piriton have teamed up with Play Ambassador Jeni Hooper to celebrate mum’s resourcefulness and children’s imaginations. They have compiled top play tips from across the internet to help parents inspire children’s everyday adventures.
Play Principle: Be generous with playtime
Jeni says, “Play is a key part of childhood so it needs to move up the priority list to have an impact on a child’s development and progress.”
Mum’s top tip: Transform every day activities and chores into play time. You can turn bath time into fun by making boats from old tubs. Use straws, lollipop sticks and any other craft items you have in the cupboard to decorate and make sails. Then see if your children’s boats float in the bath.
Play Principle: Variety is key
Jeni says, “There is a huge variety of play types: physical, social, constructive, creative, fantasy and old fashioned games – what’s important is that they all contribute to the capacity to learn. Indoor bowling is a great game that captures all of these types – and is completely free.”
Mum’s top tip: Get your children involved at every stage, from making up the pins (using empty kitchen rolls, or plastic bottles filled with newspaper or sand), setting up the ‘alley’ and making the score-board. You can even get the children to decorate their pins with paints, glitter and glue.
Play Principle: Think ages and stages
Jeni says, “As children develop so does their need for different types of play. Avoid trying to race ahead, the brain is like a strong building and needs firm foundations. Den building is a great way to get imaginations to run wild – why not transform your living room or garden into a pirate ship, spacecraft or submarine! And the nice thing is, this can easily be done inside or outside using anything that’s lying around your home or garden. ”
Mum’s top tip: If you are building a den inside, why not use furniture, pillows or sheets to construct a hideout. A large left-over cardboard box is also a great idea to create a pretend cave. So simple but can keep the kids entertained for hours!
Play Principle: Encourage independence and self-reliance
Jeni says, “Play puts children in charge of what they do and teaches them to explore, experiment and plan activities as part of the quest to learn about themselves and the world around them. Arts and crafts are a great way for children to experience independent play, particularly if there are no rules.”
Mum’s top tip: Simply gather up all the bits and pieces left over from other projects, and anything else you have about the house, give them to your children and see what they come up with. Potato stamps are easy and cheap to make – simply cut a shape into a potato and dip in paint. If they are struggling you can always suggest a theme like puppets or space. For older children, set a challenge like who can make the tallest creation. Another fun option is to create home made finger paints and watch them have fun painting whatever they want!
Play Principle: Be active
Jeni says “Get every bit of your body moving whether you’re indoors or outside”
Mum’s top tip: If your child is suffering with allergies outside, or it’s raining, make the indoors your playground. How about creating an indoor sports day? You can use a tie to do a three legged race, a sack race using pillow cases and do some bean bag throwing using bags of rice. Challenge the kids to do a forward roll on some cushions and pick up pasta with their teeth and transfer it from one bowl to another. Or try creating an obstacle course in your garden – how about hurdles made from rolled-up beach towels. Your whole family can get involved in gathering items, setting up the course and testing your skills in a friendly family competition.