Let’s assume I don’t need to convince you on the importance of play–congratulations!! But maybe you’re looking for ways of extending the play for your child…in other words enriching play. Keep in mind young children learn by doing and using their senses…the standard five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Their senses are how they acquire, absorb, assimilate information from and about their environment, their world.
Also keep in mind young children learn by doing. Doing that involves using and developing all of their ‘intelligences’. Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner was the first to introduce multiple intelligences to the educational community. Read an overview of the Intelligences. Doing implies moving and moving gives children the opportunity to hone their proprioception, which has been called the 6th sense…there really is a sixth sense! Proprioception is your awareness of your position in space and your sense of your body’s movement. It is produced by nerves in our connective tissues. Without it, we couldn’t stand up let alone run around and move! It is very important for children to get ample opportunity to move and develop this sense.
Back to enriching play: Consider renting more than one toy or adding some of your own toys to your rental to group like toys together. Grouping toys in themes can enhance your child’s learning by allowing them to discover similar concepts using different ‘intelligences’. (See the overview on Intelligences above)
Some theme examples for enriching play are:
Farm Life-animals, gardens
My Body-inside & out/Alike & Different
Transportation-Cars, Boats, Trains, Planes
Once Upon a Time-Castles & Royalty
When I Grow Up
In addition to grouping toys in themes, consider adding visuals–both photos and fabric scenes–that will fully immerse your child into your chosen theme. Rent the ToyChest is in the process of cataloguing its photos and will offer those for rental in the future. There are many early childhood ed cassettes or CDs that can accompany your themes as well. Libraries are a great, low cost resource for those.
Yours in Play!