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The 10 Best Activities for Children to Help Them Learn Through Play

Play is one of the most important ways in which children learn. It underpins formal learning later in childhood, but also enables the individual child to develop their self-worth.


In fact the right to play is deemed so fundamental to children’s wellbeing, that it is cherished by the UN as a universal children’s right.


It strengthens concentration, essential for a successful future in the classroom, and underpins everything from learning social interactions and norms, to the beginnings of thinking.


Play is particularly important for the younger child. Preschool children, and those in Reception, learn through the EYFS National Curriculum which both Chinley and Charlestown Day Nursery adhere to, EYFS is inherently play-based. It is the foundation of childhood development in terms of language, emotional intelligence, creativity, and intellectual reasoning.


Here, we explore our top 15 activities for helping children learn through play:


1. Sand and Water Play

Sand play is a fantastic opportunity for the foundations of learning and developing self-confidence and physical development. Scooping, digging, pouring, and sifting teaches children how things work, whilst also building their muscles and coordination. We also encourage friends to do it together because it then becomes about teamwork, sharing, and social skills. Like sand play, water play enables children to experiment in a safe environment with basic concepts such as volume. Additionally, water play is great for learning consequences of actions. Add in some hand-eye coordination and physical strength, and water play is a firm favourite.


2. Play Dough (Buy Via the Link)

Play dough has immense potential for learning. Not only does it strengthen fingers in preparation for a lifetime of writing, but it also teaches fine motor skills, creativity, and hand-eye coordination. If you give the children play dough you will see their creativity shine through and this will tell you a lot about what they are learning.


3. Dress-Up and Role Play

Let the children loose with a bunch of dressing-up clothes and props such as toy doctor’s kits, and let their imaginations run wild. Soon you’ll discover the budding doctor, vet, nurse, astronaut, or chef. Dressing-up helps children to begin to make sense of the adult world, roles, and interests, as well as boosting social interaction. Not least, dressing-up helps to reinforce the self-care aspects of self-dressing which is essential for primary school life.


4. Doll and Character Play

Providing characters in the form of mini-figures and dolls allows both girls and boys to develop their social play. It encourages imagination and the expression of feelings as you will see them creating situations through the characters which will help them to understand the different emotions.


5. Drawing and Painting

Letting children run wild with paints and drawing tools allows them to experience their world in a sensory way and develop self-expression, whilst also developing pre-writing skills. Furthermore, it’s an invitation to learn about colours, mixing and good-old tidying up!


6. Blocks, Jigsaws, and Shape Sorters

Playing with blocks, jigsaws, and shape sorters all lay the foundations of thinking, logical reasoning, ordering, and recognising various shapes, sizes, and colours.


7. Music, Dancing, and Singing

Singing and music hugely help to develop language and form the basis of literacy skills, as well as basic mathematical concepts such as counting. Furthermore, they begin to develop rhythm, whilst also refining their listening skills. Dancing helps the child develop strength and flexibility, not to mention coordination.


8. Nature Play

Children’s learning is fuelled with rocket-fuel when you take the play space out into the great outdoors. Not only is it healthy, but it also teaches a respect for the environment, and the beginnings of biology. It also helps children to become more independent and inquisitive. Therefore, we allow children to play with nature in our rabbit area and muddy play areas.


9. Sensory Play

In a nutshell, sensory play is any play activity which involves touch, smell, taste, sight, and hearing. This can be provided with a plate of jelly, aqua beads, ice, rice, or even small world tubs. Sensory play stimulates exploration and the building blocks of science and investigation. Although this is only provided at Chinley Day Nursery at Charlestown they do their best to provide children with the sensory play when possible.


10. The Cardboard Box

Yes, this one is great at home! The humble cardboard box is one of the most incredible invitations to play. Provide them with scraps of fabric, cushions, pencils, and paper plates and watch them explore their world, enter their imagination, and begin thinking like an engineer. Never underestimate the basic materials when it comes to children as they have a big imagination, and you will be surprised how much fun they will have with the box.


For any more ideas on play at home or outside of nursery please speak to a member of staff and they will be happy to help you with ideas. We have new play ideas each week at nursery and are always looking for more ways we can help your children to develop for later life. Nursery is where their journey starts, and we are always here to support and help your children.


Contact us today to come for a look around at a time that suits you.

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