Play Types

With thanks to Debra Laxton, University of Chichester.

a.          Play to Promote the Building and Maintaining of Relationships

  • Allow children to engage in play freely and discover objects and materials whilst providing a secure base for children to explore from. Be warm and responsive to verbal and non-verbal cues.
  • The ‘dance of dialogue’ (Read, 2014) – Consistent adults foster relationships with specific children, learn about them as individuals to attune to their needs.
  • Engage in two way communication from birth
  • Use stories to support emotional literacy i.e. for children to identify feelings, manage emotions and develop empathy.
  • Use feeling stones and carved branches to support emotional literacy.
  • Play ‘peek-a-boo’ games
  • Songs that use children’s names e.g. Hello song
  • Be a play partner and co-learner
  • Turn taking games
  • Games to encourage self-control e.g. dead lions

b.         Play to Promote Language and Listening

Conversation is the major priority: introducing words for everyday objects, colours, rhymes and concepts up/down, hot /cold, fast/slow, big/small. Culturally specific stories help a child, understand history, how we live with each other, how we live every day: in our culture, this is what we do.

  • Encourage ‘talk’ through warm reciprocal relationships
  • Create dens and quiet spaces for children
  • Short, meaningful circle times to share experiences
  • Stories
  • Action songs and traditional rhymes
  • Display drawings of children and their families to encourage talks and shared experiences between children and adults that hold meaning, local environment.
  • Sound discrimination games e.g. listening walks
  • Use familiar and unfamiliar objects to distinguish and identify different sounds
  • Fantasy role play
  • Space to act out personal experiences

c.          Play to Promote Literacy

  • All of the above (Language & Listening)
  • Pictures, books and texts as available
  • Story telling
  • Create situation stories that mirror children’s lives/ experiences
  • Story scribing
  • Writing materials available for role play
  • Language games e.g. rhyming words

d.         Sensory Play

  • Play with natural materials e.g. pebbles, sticks
  • Malleable materials as available for exploration
  • Games that promote sensory integration so therefore include sounds, sights, movements & touch combined or all at once e.g. Parachute games

e.          Physical activities (fine and gross motor skills)

  • Use the outside environment and community space for learning and going for walks
  • Obstacle courses e.g. tunnel crawling, tree and climbing
  • Engaging in sports e.g. running races, egg and spoon race
  • Engaging in hand eye/ foot eye coordination activity e.g. throwing, catching
  • Balancing opportunities e.g. logs, benches, tree stumps, on a chalk line
  • Dancing
  • Body percussion
  • Music and movement sessions
  • Body movement action songs e.g. head and shoulders, jelly on a plate, row the boat
  • Floor based play time for babies to use different muscles and movements
  • Outdoor imaginative play
  • Ribbon/ material strips for waving and movements – ribbons on sticks and dancing scarves
  • Handle a variety of tools, objects and materials in different contexts inside and outside
  • Small loose parts play for manipulating
  • Provide time and opportunity for children to manage their own toileting and dressing needs
  • Den building

f.           Problem Solving

  • Den making
  • Natural resources for exploration

g.          Art and music

  • Making and listening to music and sounds
  • Songs, poems and rhymes including those with associated movements including rocking, swaying, bouncing, finger and toe songs or clapping

h.         Play for mathematical development

  • Shape walk
  • Number songs and rhymes
  • Games with dice
  • Sorting activities e.g. with natural materials, everyday objects

i.           Play to promote understanding the world

  • Imaginative role play
  • Exploration of environments e.g. indoor, outdoor, local community
  • Stories to gain an understanding of self and empathy for others
  • Exploration of living things e.g. plants, habitats
  • Exploration of open-ended materials, natural and reclaimed, to encourage children to investigate, developing their curiosity, imagination and creativity
  • Vigorous physical activity (impact on body)
  • Adjustable ramps, materials and objects
  • Exploration of light and dark and Sunlight and shadows – drawing around shadows at different times of the day, measuring shadows