With pandemic a very important commodity added to essential goods for a family are toys and lots of play time at home (not including gaming and screen time) . Not much before did toys have that much of importance due to all other options available like parks , beaches , malls , friends. But now restricted environment and limited social interaction has made play even more life essential part for children’s development.
Play at home is either with indoor toys and games, act and learn (role plays), your own house games.
There are variety of toys available age specific and to develop specific skills or enhance learning.
- There are Montessori toys stacks , rings , blocks , cylinders, basic puzzles or match making that help them to learn , compare , judge and also develop motor skills.
- Dolls , cars , instruments to connect with self and creativity and imagination.
- Role play toys: sets for doctor , supermarket, ice-cream stalls , vending machine , baby care , house or school based toys help them connect with real world transactions or roles , their understanding of the scenario, how they connect with other players and their roles, making conversations , setting up ,social skills of able to get along with other player, giving equal opportunity and respecting each others creative differences.
- Logic development and strategy – puzzles, dominos, chess, board games- scrabble , monopoly.
- Skills development- writing- pads, tracing slates ; flash cards or sentence makers ; fine motor skills toys , sorting toys , creativity toys- art boards , jewellery making ,crafts kits, modeling, pottery , painting , mouldings , clay, GK toys- geography, globe , matching cards.
- Competitive/multiplayer toys- score based games or ball games , darts ,rings , shooting , arcade games- air hockey , table football or basketball
- Stem learning- construction set, blocks , pipes or modelling kits.
- Electronic toys- learning tabs , robots , remote toys , stem diy kits to make own electronic working models.
- Advanced toys- science kits, intricate construction set, remote controlled toys, telescope, microscope.
Act and learn is another method to boost learning through play using props or puppets or other participants. They can act out a scenario or role play either about place/event: school, market, birthday, home, hotel .They can also perform act on various stories or moral stories playing parts with guidance of narration and prompting for making meaningful dialogues .Use this play to teach them various parts of dialogue , expression , enacting and syncing, of the most making meaningful conclusion or moral of the story. This play helps them a lot to improve their ways of expression being a character , understand the moral behind the story , learning to play the role of the good and the bad character , how they connect to it, syncing with the other player , language development and improvement, implementing various aspects of impromptu acting or informal speech – tone , creative thinking or enacting, dramatics.
Your own home games are those that are developed and played with objects at home and using the home as setup for play or coming up with creative ideas . Games like floor is lava , treasure hunt , tail the cat , hit the balloon, land and water, follow the track. Also games like organizing a competitive event like story telling , singing , dancing, small indoor sports race and preparing a score card boosts learning and motivates interest to show off their skills.
The catch is when children don’t know they are learning and playing itself becomes learning, learning is interest based and process of learning seems very natural and easy.