Toys. Little pieces of brightly colored plastic are overrunning my house. There are matchbox cars in the basement, a dollhouse in the living room, bouncy balls in the kitchen, games in the dining room, action figures in the bathroom, and blocks on the steps. When did this happen? How did we get to this point where we have four kids with enough toys to take over every single room (and hallway!) in our house? I go through a clean out of toys and de-clutter and de-toy every once in a while, but the movingness and carryingness of kids makes them suddenly re-appear as my children set up a restaurant hostess booth at our front door, a drive through in our living room bay window, and a library in our dining room. These kids move toys and STUFF around more than a colony of ants.
But. Then I remember the function that all of these toys brings to my children. These plastic pieces, wooden blocks, and little figures are tools for learning and development.
How do kids use basic toys in imagination, language development, social skills, fine motor strength, sensory integration, gross motor development, and problem solving? Toys are tools of function and help to develop a child’s skills in so many areas. Grab a cup of coffee, move the ninja turtles from their couch battle scene, and read on!
The Function of Play in Kids: Play is a child’s work.
But first, here are a few easy play ideas we’ve shared on the blog using toys you probably have around the house:
The Role of Play for Children
Using everyday toys in teaching play, naturally
- Use a child’s interests to create pretend play situations.
- Model appropriate language or problem solving.
- Encourage imitation of actions using cars or action figures.
- Work on arm strength and shoulder girdle strength by pushing cars up a ramp.
- Provide proprioceptive situations by playing and building couch cushion forts for dolls.
- Respond to attempt to communicate in pretend play with animal figures.
- Encourage turn-taking.
- Allow your child to “lead” a play situation.
- Encourage grasp development with toy manipulatives.
- Discus social interactions with small figures in small worlds, like this outdoors small world scene.
- Work on multi-step direction following in a pretend play situation where the bug needs to hop on the block, then go around the sticks, and get food from under the rock.
Toddler Play Ideas for kids aged 2-4
School-Aged play ideas for educational learning