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How to engage children in their early years through play

Updated: May 3

Children are playing

The importance of toys

Children love to play. Most of their time is spent trying to figure out the world around them. Their spirit of adventure and curiosity gives them ample opportunities to explore. This exploration leads to a lot of impromptu learning. Though the toy market is booming today with a lot of focus on “academic”, “sensory”, “cognitive” development, children actually do not need a lot of equipment or toys to play with. With regular household items and just a little thought, children can have a wholesome playtime.

Top 10 ways to engage children without a lot of toys

Toys are a lot of fun even for adults and many a times, we buy them to satisfy our fascination. Children could care less if they have a fancy toy or a simple box, if the play is interesting. Here are some early childhood education techniques to keep those little minds active and engaged through the day:

  1. Sorting – from sorting fruits and vegetables into separate baskets arranging to plates and spoons in the kitchen, this is a fun task to keep children engaged. Sorting could be used as an introduction to size, shape or color.

  2. Measuring – helping in measuring ingredients for a recipe can help children understand the concept of quantity and make them feel useful in the kitchen.

  3. Scavenger hunt – who doesn’t enjoy a good scavenger hunt? With random items lying around the house, children can have a fun playtime finding hidden items.

  4. Count – one of the first concepts that can be easily introduced to children is numbers. Stairs, plates, bottles, furniture, anything can be used to help the child count.

  5. Rhymes – one of the most fun engagement for kids is to sing and dance. This could be rhymes or songs in any language of your choice. This helps children not just with their vocabulary but also with their ideas of expression.

  6. Matching – similar items or related items can be used to help kids with the idea of matching. Matching colors, shapes, or a cup with the respective saucer are all ways to keep children engaged and interested in their surroundings.

  7. Simon says – this is a fun way to help children understand the concept of following instructions. This can keep children engaged for a long time with simple directions to follow and as they progress, the instructions can be made complex.

  8. Painting – colors bring joy to everyone including children. This can be used as a means of both creative expression and messy play. Various kinds of colors and techniques can be used for this purpose, including watercolors, crayons or markers and finder painting, vegetable painting of sketching.

  9. Sensory play – young children absolutely love to engage all their senses when they play. So, an activity that involves squishing sand, or dropping ping pongs etc can be entertaining.

  10. Water play – water play is fun even for adults. Whenever there is a need to burn off some energy or relax the child, water play can come to the rescue. This could involve splashing in water or filling up different cans.

Parents can focus on utilizing play-based learning approach to keep their toddlers engaged with the best outcome and prolonged interest.


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