Posts tagged with: playtime

Budget Friendly Addition to Backyard Playtime


Budget Friendly Addition to Backyard Playtime Offers Endless Possibilities

Everything’s always better with a little color… and who better to add a splash of color to kids’ lives than the modern day masters of the color spectrum, Crayola! This season, they’re here to stimulate kids’ imaginations and brighten up their sandboxes with their new colored Play Sand! Let the long, sunny outdoor days begin!

Crayola’s new soft and ultra-high quality Play Sand transforms an ordinary sandbox into a colorful bed of creativity, in fun and playful hues. And thanks to 20-pound “mom-friendly” bags featuring an easy-to-carry handle, getting the colored play sand to the sandbox is a snap. The sand is great for summer time art projects to add a blast of color but don’t worry the vibrant colors won’t leave any stains on the hands.

Early childhood development experts agree that sand play is one of the most important and beneficial activities for children to engage in to develop a wide variety of motor, spatial and social skills. “Sand play is open-ended and allows children the freedom to build and strengthen development of their small and large muscle motor skills, eye-hand coordination, mathematical, vocabulary and socialization skills,” said Cheri Sterman, director of child development, Crayola. “Now, the benefits of sand play are taken to a new dimension with the addition of color. It’s creative learning driven solely by imagination and no batteries nor game pod’s needed.”

So this summer, open the doors to your child’s imagination and make playtime more colorful with Crayola Play Sand. Available in pink, purple, blue and green for $6.47 at select WalMart stores nationwide.

Creative Free Play for All Ages

Last time we talked about how important it is for children of all ages to have regular times of creative free play. According to Sergio M. Pellis, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, “A child who has had a rich exposure to social play experiences is more likely to become an adult who can manage unpredictable social situations.”

Now we are going to figure out how to do that and what is appropriate at different ages. For young children 9-24 months, most of the time that they play alone is going to be free play. As toddlers learn to interact with their environment and the toys around them they are learning cause and effect ie. If I push this button Elmo pops out. The key at this age is to not overwhelm the child with too many toys at one time. Placing 1-2 toys in the playpen with the child helps the child to focus on everything he can do with that toy instead of being distracted by a mountain of toys in the corner.

Children from 2-5 years are putting words and objects together and often assigning human characteristics to inanimate objects. This is where imaginitive play starts to blossom and needs to be encouraged. The pre-school age child needs to try new things and explore in new ways. Playing with building blocks, dolls, cars and trucks give them the opportunity to create new things and be the center of their imaginary universe. Children in this age group enjoy creating simple crafts and especially finger painting.

Once children enter elementary school we, as parents need to make sure that along with school, homework and afterschool commitments, need to make sure our kids have time every day for free imaginative play. Children in this age group like to build and create, play with dolls and cars and trucks. Their imaginative play just goes deeper. They need to create crafts and build forts and run and jump and make up games.

Teens and tweens need to have an “unplugged” hour. An hour at least 3 times a week where there are no cell phones, computers, video games or televison. Use this hour to do something creative. There are alot of family games out now that encourage creative thought such as Apples to Apples, Balderdash, Cranium and others. Let them use this time to write in their journals, work on a craft project or any other creative activity that they are interested in.

As parents, we want our children to grow up to be happy, healthy, well-rounded, productive citizens and research shows that free, imaginative play is important in that growth.

Child’s Play

Years ago I worked with a toy company and one of the company’s sayings was “A child’s work is play.” It sounds a little odd until you really think about it. For young children, their “job” in life is to play and learn. Playing and learning go hand-in-hand. Even in the 21st century with all of our fancy toys and gadgets, some of the most important toys for a child to play with are the classics-building blocks, dolls, toy trains, and pupets. Why are these toys important? They encourage imaginative play. A child with a set of wooden building blocks can make anything they can dream up.  Toys that encourage imaginative play are toys that are open ended. Toys with no rules or directions to follow allow children to experiment and problem solve.

Unfortunately today most children have little time for free, imaginitive play. Between daycare, school, sports, and other scheduled activities there is no time for free play. Yet, studies prove children of all ages need unstructured, imaginative free play on a regular basis to fully develop socially, cognitively and emotionally. I am not saying structured activities are bad-there are a lot of important skills learned from playing organized sports, board games and even video games. What we need is balance.

In striving to help our kids get a step ahead academically and athletically it is easy for us to lose focus on the whole child. Psychiatrist Stuart Brown has spent over 40 years studying the effects that childhood play has on children when they are adults. He believes that children who are deprived of regular times of free, creative play are less able to problem solve and handle stress later on in life. Even as teens and adults there needs to be times where we unplug from our electronic world and engage in fun, creative play.

There is a great article in Scientific American called The Serious Need for Play. Which goes into much more depth on the subject of play. Next time I will share with you some ideas for incorporating free play into your child’s day.