What if we thought of play as our child’s job? And our job was to make sure that every day our children were actively engaged in play?
When children have a safe place to play, they are able to explore new ideas, practice problem solving without the fear of failing, and enjoy themselves and the world around them.
Parents play (see what we did there?) a vital role in this as well. Spending time in play together can help children learn new ideas and ways of doing things. High quality play is when the child is “actively engaged,” like when your child is figuring out how to stack blocks without making the tower fall over. In this one activity there are so many factors going into play that we may not think about: fine motor– their sweet, little fingers carefully placing the blocks, cognitive– understanding depth perception and balance, and communication– expressing to their playmate where they think the blocks could go.
In the words of Fred Rogers,
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for our children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Oslo Tower play time ideas that help target learning development:
The benefit of using our Oslo Tower in play is that it creates equality between the adult and child. It levels the playing field in creating a cooperative play experience where the child feels safe to learn and problem solve.
Green Beans Train:
A large bowl, green beans
Place green beans in a large bowl.
Allow your child to reach in and grab green beans. They can connect them from end to end to create a train or create a picture of their choice. They can also line them up from shortest to tallest. Older kids can practice cutting off the ends and place them back into a bowl for future cooking.
This activity allows children to explore and create by using their imagination in designing pictures with the beans. It also allows them to practice finger-pinching by grabbing the beans, a skill that helps with future handwriting. Kids are developing their self-help skills when they practice cutting the green beans. Practice asking open-ended questions to encourage the child to think deeply.
3 Little Pigs Safe House:
Scrap paper or cardboard from the recycle bin, child-safe scissors, tape, play people or animals or cars
Cut up the scrap paper and cardboard into squares and put arrange them on the counter
Read together any version of the 3 Little Pigs story and then create their own version of a house they could stay safe in if the big bad wolf were to blow it down. Put their favorite play people or animals or cars inside the house and blow on the house to see if it stays up!
This activity targets fine motor and communication development. Using scissors (we recommend child-safe scissors with help) and tape, they are making their fingers work hard to create a house. Communicating back and forth with an adult can help encourage the child to think deeply about what might work and what might not work. Practice asking open-ended questions to encourage the child to think deeply.