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A Guide to Understanding Purposeful Play

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Here at luua, we agree that play is the foundation of all creativity!

Play also sets the tone for learning in all subject areas. It creates opportunities for children to build confidence in themselves, and for them to grow and develop socially, and emotionally.

Then, what do we mean by purposeful play?

Purposeful play is play that involves intentional planning for children to have rich and meaningful experiences. It helps children build skills and enhances learning by setting up play materials, spaces, and activities with intention.

It is said that play is the work of children but how can we set children up for play experiences where they can get the most out of their playtime? We are here to help you with this. Our goal is to support you in bringing more play into your lives and will help you with setting intentions and purpose for these experiences. We know how busy life with children can be and we want to offer you options to add purposeful play into your days.

5 Ways to Create Purposeful Play Opportunities

1. Be mindful about setting up a space for play. The environment where children play, has a lot to do with how they will use the space. Make sure they have enough space for the type of play they are engaging in. Set up play spaces that are welcoming and exciting for children. Let children’s interests and play styles guide the materials included in these environments.

2. Offer a variety of interesting materials for children to play with. Toys that offer open-ended experiences and that can be used in multiple ways will help children engage in creative, imaginative play. Materials that you already have around the house can also be used to set up many meaningful play scenarios. Have fun with your child and go on a scavenger hunt around your house to find items to include in your play spaces!

  • Blankets make great forts, capes, oceans, or islands

  • Pots and pans can be an integral part of an up-and-coming restaurant or the new drum kit for the band

  • Cardboard boxes make castles, cars, dollhouses, and pizza ovens (to name a few)

  • Recycle materials can be stacked, built with, or filled with treasures

3. Go out into nature and let children explore. The outdoors invites so many rich play opportunities. Children can participate in imaginary play, they can climb, run, jump, collect items from nature to be used later, chase a sunset together, the outdoors offers endless possibilities.

4. Make a game out of daily routines to build more play into your day. When it is possible, have your child help you with routines and tasks around the house in a fun and playful way.

Have a dance party while putting away laundry, let them experiment with measurement while helping you cook, give them a task that needs to be completed but let them problem solve how to get it done. Gamify cleaning up – minute to win it style! Helping children build skills through intentional playful activities turns ‘work’ into play and learning accelerates.

5. Ask open-ended questions to help facilitate and extend play. By asking children open-ended questions that don’t have one answer, during play you allow them to formulate and share their ideas with you. Their reasoning skills are honed through wonder and exploration.

Being an active listener during these conversations gives an opportunity for you to help children extend or enhance their play experience. Providing more materials or allowing children to try out alternative ideas enriches the moment.

Model asking open-ended questions regularly, show your child your curiosity and this will lay the foundation for building a growth mindset from an early age.

There are of course many more ways to get children involved in play –purposefully! The fact that you have taken the time to be more mindful about offering intentional play experiences to children is AMAZING!
Thank you so much for taking this important step. Don’t forget to include play in your own day. Adults benefit from play in many of the same ways that children do.

remember play isn’t just the work of the child – it should be the work of everyone!

#luuaplay #empoweringpurposefulplay #fosteringcreativity


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