Playing involves so much more than just having fun. It’s an essential activity for kids to have a healthy development. Activities that introduce our little ones to colors, shapes, and textures have been proven to be incredibly beneficial. As parents, you can adapt any space at home and design a playroom where your kids can explore, get creative, and learn. We asked experts for their tips and input on how to create the perfect playroom for your kids at home.
How to teach kids to think strategically through games
“Learning through play is an invaluable resource to help kids develop intangible skills, helping them in all facets of life. Using games in an educational way keeps kids motivated and interested and affords them the opportunity for independent learning where making mistakes is encouraged. Kids are encouraged to develop their autonomous decision-making skills and get the opportunity to think logically while playing strategy board games. The element of fun masks the obvious learning opportunities that might put kids off of traditional learning methods, making risk games and the like a major resource. Board games serve up a healthy dose of competition and no two games are ever the same. These games are entirely based on the individual decisions that players make so developing strategies and using logic is crucial on the road to victory. Logic and strategy will help kids tremendously with their mathematical skills, engineering proficiencies, problem-solving, and other left-brain dominant fields. They also help kids with creative thinking, reasoning, intuition, free-thinking, and other characteristics associated with the right brain.”
How to clean wooden toys
“Wiping: The easiest, simplest way to clean your wooden toys is by wiping them using a slightly damp cloth, then wiping them with a dry one. You can do this regularly, at least once a week, to maintain the quality of your toy.
Using Mild Soap/ Cleaner: Wipe the stains with a microfibre cloth dipped in a gentle toy cleaning solution. Wipe it again with a dry cloth then air-dry it at room temperature, away from the heater, or under direct sunlight.
Using White or Apple Cider Vinegar: Dilute it with water (1 part vinegar to 10 parts water), dip your cloth and spot clean or wipe your wooden toys. You can also place that diluted solution in a spray bottle then spray from a distance or spray on a clean cloth then wipe. Avoid spraying too much liquid though, to protect the toys from warping. Then wipe it dry with a clean cloth and air-dry it before giving it to your child.”
Why play is essential to child development?
“Allowing children to play and use their imaginations builds their confidence in themselves and allows them to build friendships and have fun. When they have time to express themselves and enjoy their playtime, children become more well-adjusted adults. Play is essential to child development and allows them the freedom to explore and have fun.”
How to promote real play for kids
“We know kids need to learn through trial and error, to negotiate and to learn the lessons that failure brings; the strength to keep on going. Real play is messy and I don’t mean just dirty, it’s unstructured, some things work and some things don’t and kids have to adapt. These are the top tips for getting kids out to play:
- Pack the kids up and get out somewhere new.
- If you are out of the house you can’t get distracted by the housework or piles of bills to pay etc
- At a park or at the beach, there are no screens to distract anyone, so it’s easier to play with what’s there.
- Take a few props, like balls, buckets and spades, and some play figures.
- Start the play with your kids, then as they get into it, fade yourself out a bit, so they can see where their imagination takes them.
- Take a picnic and a flask of coffee everywhere you go, this means you never have to disrupt the magic of play just to eat or drink.”
How can Lego toys benefit your child?
“Legos benefit your child’s skill development and growth. Regularly playing with these toys can:
– Improve children’s creative mindset
– Develop motor and physical skills
– Encourage patience and persistence
– Build up their self-confidence
– Boost their skills in problem solving and critical thinking
So, Legos are not only fund, but they are very beneficial for you child’s development.”
What are the benefits of wooden toys?
“Going back to basics can be a great way to impact your little one’s development. Besides, wooden toys can be more durable and environmentally friendly! Their benefits also include:
- Simple wooden toys give your little one a chance to make choices.
- You will also give them a chance to solve problems.
- While they are solving these problems and making decisions, they will also be fostering their independence and self-esteem.
- Wooden toys can also be a great chance for your little one to experiment with different textures.”
What are the activities that help with the development of children’s skills?
“PLAY! When children play, they are in fact learning. This is true for adults too. For infants, parent-guided play is great for eye tracking, voice and face recognition. These can all be done by holding, talking and singing to a baby or moving an object left and right so they can follow it with their eyes. The PlanToys PlayGym is great for infants. As they get older, they will work on fine and gross motor skills. Pulling our Rainbow Alligator or moving beers from one hive to another with our Beehive set. My favorite type of play for children is pretend play. They get to use their imagination and there is no limits with that. Children can develop those creative skills by playing with our Victorian Dollhouse, playing make believe with as a chef with our Wonky Fruits, or recording their adventures to share with the world using our Vlogger Set.“
What activities can parents implement for their kids to learn different languages?
“To learn a new language, repetition is the key. Also, children learn better from a friend than from a formal teacher. Parents can buy language companions like ROYBI Robot which teaches children new languages through conversation and repetition. They can create fun family moments, for example bringing the toy to the dinner table and playing the lessons related to food. This way not just the child but the entire family can learn and creates an exciting family bond. Parents should consider language tools that have a variety of lessons so they can incorporate these into their daily and fun activities. Language learning should be fun!”
What should parents consider when teaching children to share?
“Instead of sharing, encourage children to work together by taking turns. When we tell children to take turns in place of sharing, we are giving them a great way to practice the skills they will need to cooperate with others and to solve conflict. This is a foundational life skill. Children can even help brainstorm about this. Try this approach. It works like magic! I see you’re enjoying playing with this car. David would like a turn with this too. When you’re finished with it, give the car to David so that he can play with it too. Can you remember to give it to him when you are finished? Sound too easy? It really works and is one of my best veteran preschool teacher tips! By making children a part of the solution, they are more willing to help and to even become more generous. The more they practice this, the easier it becomes! Make sure to notice when the child gives the item to the next child, and let them know you’re proud of them for remembering to give it to their friend.”
How do puzzles help child’s development?
“Puzzles help child’s development mentally, physically and emotionally. For one, kids learn problem solving skills as they figure out how to complete the puzzle image. Also, when young children hold the puzzle pieces and move them around, they develop the small muscles in their hands and thus their fine motor ability. Another thing, young ones feel proud of their achievement after completing a puzzle, which builds their self esteem and confidence.”
How can children have fun while eating healthy?
“Three things will be helpful in making healthy food fun: first, channel a dinner party vibe. Cheers your smoothie glasses, put some music on and make the table a place you would want to be if you were a kid. Second, look for micro choices to help your child feel in control. Would you like the red cup or the blue one? Should we serve strawberries or bananas with our oatmeal today? Third, make it an activity that is part of your predictable routine. Build your own yogurt bowl Mondays, Build your own Taco on Tuesdays, etc. Learning to taste healthy food is a skill we can build if we create the right environment.”
Jenny Best, Solid Starts
What are the Benefits of Play-Based Speech Therapy?
“Play is a child’s job! Through play a child learns about himself as well as his environment. Play equips a child with a host of important developmental skills like cognitive skills, communication skills, emotional skills, physical skills, problem solving and more! Play is extensively used in Speech Language Therapy. It helps in establishing pre linguistic skills like joint attention, attention span and sitting tolerance all of which are needed for healthy speech and language development.
Play is a tool used in Speech Therapy for:
-Building vocabulary ( new words and their meanings).
-Improving sentence structure with correct grammar and syntax.
-Correcting speech sound errors and enhancing speech clarity.
-Boosting speech fluency and confidence.
-Teaching reciprocative communication and social skills.
-Both structured and free play are used in Speech Therapy to help kids communicate effectively.”
What toys and products can help kids to develop sensorial skills?
“Sensorial skills encompass the five well known sensory systems tactile/touch, gustatory/taste, olfactory/smell, auditory/hearing, and visual/ sight as well as the lesser known vestibular and proprioceptive systems. Fidgets and chews are typically well known and well associated with sensory and sensorial development. Chews, as their name implies, are a category of items that are designed to be chewed. Chewing provides great proprioceptive input through the jaw area; this type of input can be very helpful for soothing but also great in the development of this system. Some chews have added textures (like bumps or ridges) that add a tactile component. Fidgets are generally small objects that are held or manipulated. There are many fidget options available; depending on the fidget’s characteristics, they can help alert (wake up) or calm the sensory system. Games and activities that involve movement and body position sense are great for targeting the vestibular, tactile, and proprioceptive systems. In the same way, games and activities that involve touching and feeling are great for targeting the tactile sense. Multisensory environments are another option for immersing in the sensorial experience. Play is a necessary component in the development sensorial skills. There are a vast variety of toys and products available to enhance the development of play. In choosing the most appropriate and safe toy or activity considering a child’s interest, developmental level, and skill areas you wish to target are key!”
Tips to Create a Multi-Age Playroom
“When creating a multi-age playroom I suggest using montessori shelves in lieu of a toy bin. This set up reduces clutter, which makes it easier to clean up, while also providing the children with minimal options to foster deeper independent play. Additionally, the toys can be displayed at an age appropriate height for each child. Of course, kids will want to explore each other’s things, in which case teaching children to use a Montessori mat (also known as a “work rug”) can minimize sharing disputes as they learn the items on a work rug are solely those persons at that time.”
What are the benefits of having spy toys for a child?
“A passion for secret agents likely means kids are starting to become curious and interested in exploration and technology. There’s a range of benefits about spy gadgets including:
- Small in terms of physical dimensions
- Assimilable mobility.
- Utilization is a breeze.
- Quite a classy and understated design.
- Provide a lot of amusement.
- Easily rearranged“
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What are the benefits of coding games for children?
“-Enhances Logic and Problem-Solving Skills: When kids code they develop skills such as brainstorming, creative thinking and decision-making skills all of which are necessary for solving a variety of problems.
-Develops Writing Skills: When children practice coding, they can develop the habit of eliminating excess. Therefore, making students more effective communicators and writers. In a world where attention spans are shrinking, they will learn how to be more concise.
-Builds Confidence: When kids code, they start to see mistakes as opportunities to learn and evolve. By having your child learn coding, you create an open platform for self-expression for them to voice their opinions.
-Unleashes Creativity Without Limits: Learning to code is like learning a new language. It lays a stable foundation for leadership, innovation and ability to connect ideas with solutions. By giving your child the ability to code, you are giving them a whole new tool to express themselves and their ideas.
-Secures Job Prospects In The Future: Looking at the world around us, it is easy to see how technology is becoming a necessary part of everything we do. A child who learns how to code will have an advantage with more employment opportunities available to them in the future. No matter which industry they decide to enter, coders are needed for every career.
-Helps With Storytelling: A writer’s tools for telling a story include simple words and sentences. Coders, on the other hand, have access to much more, including images, videos, animation and music all in addition to words! The flexible nature of programming allows children to create their story and have it react to user inputs.”
Best activities to keep your kids engaged while parents work
“It’s important to keep kids engaged while parents work and it’s not as difficult as it seems. Some of the best activities to try are:
-Having them help with simple tasks around the house
-Encouraging them to read or do educational activities
-Allowing them to play outside or with toys/games
-Setting up a designated “quiet time” for them to relax
-Creating a weekly or daily schedule for them to follow
With a little bit of creativity, parents can easily find ways to keep their kids engaged while they work. Try out the above activities and see what works best for your family!”
What are the best games to play with toddlers before going to bed?
“At that age, we would read picture books and also play with wooden building blocks before bedtime, building fun and magical things to prepare for happy a dreaming state.”
What are the essential tips to consider for keeping a playroom organized?
“Cube organizers are a fantastic way to organize toys and items in playrooms if you want to keep everything hidden well. The cube organizer can be used as a piece of furniture and can also create a nice wall display. You can choose how much stuff you want to be seen by keeping everything behind closed bins or leaving some toys out for display. The cube bins allow you to keep the toys put away and covered, as well as for quick cleaning. Plus, there are so many different colors and styles of those bins that you can always find something to match your room. Try labeling all of your bins by category for easy clean up and storage. You can use pictures or words. If you choose to use words, this can also help your child work on sight words and letters by beginning to recognize the word for the items that go in the bin. You can even further compartmentalize those bins with small plastic storage bins to hold all those little pieces that always get lost. Lids are great because it keeps the items contained, as well as hides the mess! If you need to do a last minute sweep of the room because company is coming over, you can easily throw everything into the bins and throw the cover on it. It also gives your toddler a place to be able to put their stuff away if she’s starting to clean up after herself.”
Marissa Labuz, Just Simply Mom
How can parents choose a developmentally appropriate toy?
“Research in early childhood development indicates that most children follow a common progression of physical & cognitive skills in their early formative years. The acquisition and continued development of specific skills can be generally correlated with specific ages. You will thus want to consider your child’s age along with a particular skill area or multiple areas to develop. Another important consideration is that the skill development process is progressive in nature. The brain learns & expands its network of information by taking in outside stimuli and associating it with stored data. Skills tend to build upon each other, step by step. So you will also want to select a toy that provides the opportunity for your child to progress or grow with the product, refining skills & building new ones over time. Discovery Toys Play Advisors are wonderful resources to help with toy selection for your children.”
Jim Garber, DT Learning Products, Inc.
How to create a fun indoor space for children?
“Kids need space to spread out and move around, so avoid trying to cram too much into your playroom, or adding unnecessary furniture, in order to leave as much space as possible for play. By the same token, any furnishings you do add should be kid-friendly. Stay away from glass or sharp corners that could be dangerous to young or active kids, and make sure that whatever you put in there is something you wouldn’t mind being used for kids’ fort-building ideas, or otherwise being climbed on or thrown about!”
Tips for Choosing Eco-Friendly Toys
“Seek out made in the USA. Toys made in the USA must meet certain standards concerning the materials they’re made with and the practices used to make them.
Choose solid, sustainably grown wood. Unlike plywood and other manufactured wood products, solid wood does not contain glues, adhesives, or added formaldehyde. Even better, look for toymakers who source sustainably grown/harvested American woods, which have a smaller eco-footprint than imported woods.
Know your maker. Seek out small, independent toymakers who prioritize earth-friendly practices and safe, non-toxic materials. Most makers, or someone on their small team, will be happy to openly and honestly answer any questions you have around their production practices.”
Tips to create an educational playroom
“Create an educational playroom for your kids by adding some open-ended toys. Open-ended toys grow with your kid as they age. They allow your little ones to use their creativity and imagination during play. They can also be used differently each time they are played with. Some open-ended toy examples are Magnatiles, animal figures, or a play kitchen. I have a list on my website of 20+ open-ended toys that are great additions to an educational playroom! Also, adding items like puzzles, fine motor skill toys, and mess-free art activities give your child a wide variety of ways to learn and play. One tip I have is to also rotate toys in and out of the playroom so your kids will play with a specific set of toys and then be exposed to a new set of toys a few weeks later. This way, they won’t get bored with their toys and they will be excited to see a new set of toys. Kids learn by playing. By working alongside your little ones while they are playing, you can help them learn each and every day!”
What toys help with emotional development?
“Some of the toys that foster emotional development are ones that help children understand, label and discuss emotions. These could be things like books, dolls or stuffies with faces showing different emotions. Other ideas could include conversation starter card sets, and cooperative (not competitive) board games. Pretend play items (e.g., costumes, pretend kitchen or grocery store items), as well as puppets, can also help foster emotional skills since children have to take on the character they are pretending to be, which promotes a lot of emotional awareness and perspective-taking.”
What activities help to create a bond between parents and children?
“When choice of activity with children is intended to create a bond, the activity must be something the child is interested in, and it happens at a time when the parent can give undivided attention to the child and the activity. For bonding or connection to occur, the child must be invested and engaged in the activity rather than coerced into doing what the parent thinks would be fun. It’s best when the child is proficient at the activity and can be the leader or teacher of the parent. If the activity is something both child and parent enjoy, the parent must simply have fun and refrain from giving tips to the child for improvement.”
How To Design a Play Space That Inspires Creativity
What factors parents need to consider before installing a playground at home?
“Factors to consider before installing a playground at home:
Surfacing: Because most playground injuries occur as a result of a fall, it’s important to have surfacing that absorbs some of the shock of the fall.
Reputation of the equipment manufacturer: Read Google reviews and customer testimony about whatever equipment you choose. Tip: There are some great small businesses that manufacture playground equipment that is higher in quality than what you’ll get from a big box store.
Age Appropriateness: Some play equipment is more geared for 2-5 year olds, while other play equipment is more appropriate for 5-12 year olds. For example, you may not want a 2 year old dangling from overhead bars that are situated 6 feet above the ground. However, if you think it’s possible that this could happen, see factor #1.”
What are the benefits for children about having a play kitchen?
“If you could only buy your child one toy it should be a play kitchen! So many skills can be learned while playing with this fantastic toy. I particularly love it as there are so many ways to use it to promote speech and language development and pretend play. Some other areas of development that are strengthened while playing with a toy kitchen are problem solving, fine motor skills, counting, categorization and many more!”
How to set up a play area that encourages speech in children struggling with speech disorder?
- “Use clear bins and organize toys by categories (building blocks, plastic food, plastic animals, cars/trucks, dolls, puzzles, games, etc.). Limited the number of items in each bin and rotate the items.
- Label each container. I recommend labeling each bin with two laminated cards secured to the bin with Velcro, one card with a picture of the type of items in the bin and one card with a word that describes the items.
This creates two opportunities to learn:
-You can put the cards up to your mouth while you say the word for the child.
-You can have the child match the pictures and words to the appropriate bins.
- Clear bins that are hard to open or out of reach will foster communications in the form of requests. Use these opportunities to teach your child to look to you and ask for help. Use the bin labels and say “help”, “open”, “blocks” etc.
- Deliberate and repeated use of words (spoken and written) and pictures during play time will enhance your child’s communications skills.”
Pam Drennen, Kidmunicate
What are the benefits of small world play?
“Engaging in small world play is so important for children. Not only does it nurture their imagination, it also enables them to explore new materials, act out scenarios from real life, build language, practice social skills and gain an understanding of the world around them. Small world play also benefits children emotionally by providing an opportunity to express any concerns and worries they might be feeling through the safety of the characters and stories they create in their play.”
What types of toys encourage talking?
“When it comes to toys that encourage talking, the simpler the toy the better. Annoying noises and flashing lights are not conducive to language development! When playing with simple toys such as blocks, dolls, and balls, parents tend to use more descriptive language. The imagination is engaged! Crazy battery-operated toys don’t allow for conversation like nesting toys, pullback cars, simple puzzles, and bubbles. Find the one(s) that excite your child and go with it!”
What is Imaginative Play and how to encourage it?
“Imaginative play is when children use their imaginations to create and enact stories or scenarios. This can be done solo or with others. It’s important to encourage imaginative play because it helps children develop creativity, communication, and problem-solving skills. There are many ways to encourage imaginative play. One is to provide open-ended toys that can be used in multiple ways. Another is to create opportunities for pretend play, such as setting up a pretend tea party or building a fort out of blankets and pillows. You can also encourage your child to use their imagination when they’re playing with you by asking them open-ended questions and suggesting different scenarios to act out. Above all, it’s important to be supportive and let your child know that their imaginations are valued.”
How playing can help to develop speech and language skills?
“Children learn BEST when they are naturally playing since it is meaningful, interesting, and relevant to them. They develop and practice speech and language skills by requesting, describing, and interacting with their toys and caregivers. Play is hard work for children as they learn to navigate their world and discover how things work. It is important to have simple, sturdy toys organized in a manner where children can explore but not be overwhelmed. To help keep things interesting as part of the speech therapy, I suggest taking away 1/2 of a child’s toys and rotating them every month. It will keep children excited about playing and expose them to new vocabulary each month. For an extra challenge, you can store toys in a clear bin which is a challenge to open and/or out of reach. Children will see the toys and have to figure out how to communicate their need to play with those toys.”
Speech Therapy Talk
How to Create A Playroom that Fosters Creative Play and Invention?
“The first step to creating a playroom that encourages hands-on, creative play is to plan the space based on your child’s interests and curiosities. For example, do you have a budding engineer? Try making the space a builder’s workshop. Does your child love music? Make it a music studio. Your playroom could also be a science lab or an art studio. The second step to creating a great play space is to make the room flexible, so you can easily change it as your child’s interests grow. You can do this by using neutral color shelving and baskets and switching the tools or supplies based on your child’s interests. The last step to creating the ultimate kid’s playroom is to add a gallery space or shelf space for your child to showcase their incredible creations.”
What skills should parents encourage during playtime and how to do it?
“It really depends on the age, however, encouraging autonomy and independence is an important one for all ages. As parents, we sometimes take overplay with the goal of teaching language skills, critical thinking, etc. However, the magic happens when we step back. If a child is building a block tower and it keeps falling (and they get upset) then this is a perfect learning opportunity for critical thinking, managing emotions, and concentration. Let them figure it out but act as the guide. This is called scaffolding in research. You have an ultimate goal (building a block tower) and you need to create baby steps that guide your child’s thinking. Also, offering more independence during play means a child might get bored, which is great! They will have to invent stories, create something, and think outside the box, all of which are important for school.”
Dr. Cindy Hovington
What are considered sensory toys?
“Sensory toys are a great and fun way to stimulate a individuals five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. They might include elements textures, sound light or smell. These toys are meant to help children be aware and develop their senses in a fun and interactive way.”
How does Fidget Toys can Help a Child’s Ability to Focus?
“By having a fidget toy, a child and adult may be able to better ‘filter out’ excess sensory information in their surroundings and their body, which is causing distraction. Fidgeting is our body’s way of releasing restless energy. Common types of fidgeting include foot tapping, hair twirling, nail biting or chewing on items. While many consider these activities counterproductive to learning, many experts state that if these fidgeting behaviors can be re-directed and they can actually enhance learning. Such as active listening, focus on task at hand and concentration. In addition to the improved learning benefits, fidget toys can also reduce anxiety and stress, enhance dexterity, improve coordination and fine motor skills and assist in the development of muscles of small hands. Fidgets come in all different shapes, sizes, and textures and are often referred to by various different names.”