How to Encourage Purposeful Play with Your Kids

purposeful play, playtime, parenting

How to Encourage Purposeful Play with Your Kids

It is probably no surprise to most moms that children love to play. Playing is not only essential for kids to get their wiggles out, but a certain type of play is critical for brain development and allows children to gain all the skills they need physically, socially, cognitively, creatively, and emotionally. This kind of play is called “purposeful play” and parents and teachers should try to encourage their children to engage in it as often as they can.

What is purposeful play?

Purposeful play is an enjoyable activity that allows children to make meaning out of their experiences. When children play, they are building imagination, developing reading, language, math and science skills, solving problems, and building social skills, among other things. Purposeful play requires a little bit of thought and foresight on the part of the parent, but it can be achieved pretty easily. Here are some benefits and examples of purposeful play activities:

Types of Purposeful Play

Blocks & Building

Children who build with blocks, or stack and dump blocks, or those who build a structure like a fort are learning cooperation, gross motor skills, problem solving, and building muscles.

A great way to encourage this type of play is with legos. Both of my children love legos. They could spend hours building “towers” with them. When we need a go-to play activity, legos are it. To make lego play even more challenging, encourage your kids to build monochromatic towers or to create a tower using colors to make a pattern. Help them to get creative in their building play!

Dramatic & Social Play

When kids play “house” or “school,” or give voices to their dolls, or pretend to be something, they are learning skills such as communication and taking turns, roles and relationships, empathy and expressing emotions.

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My kids love to play in a homemade fort and pretend they’re camping. Sometimes I’ll give them some plastic plates and cups and cutlery and they pretend they’re having a picnic. Encouraging your kids to pretend by building a fort, or a puppet show, or encouraging your daughter to play house with her Barbies or your son to pretend to be a superhero are all ways they can practice dramatic & social play.

Art Activities

Painting, drawing, cutting and pasting, playing with play-doh, or stringing beads or macaroni helps children develop creativity, learn about cause and effect, use small muscles of the hands and fingers, develop patience and learn colors.

Art play is a favorite of ours. My four-year-old daughter no longer takes naps, so we have instilled a “quiet time” that she does while her little brother takes his nap. She stays in her room and she is allowed to play quietly. One of the ways I’ve found to keep her completely engaged in her quiet time is by installing an “art cart” in her room. I bought a three-tiered cart from IKEA and I stocked it full of coloring books, blank paper, crayons, colored pencils, washable markers, stickers, glue, and kiddie scissors. Every day, she comes out of her rest time with several new masterpieces that she has worked hard to create. She loves her art cart and I love the time I have all to myself!

Puzzles

Playing with puzzles encourages children to problem solve, sort items, see how things fit together, and master hand-eye coordination.

Puzzles are an easy way to promote purposeful play. They can be found everywhere! There are large floor puzzles that are perfect for younger kids as well as smaller, more complex puzzles for bigger kids. You can even make your own puzzles. One of the easiest ways to make a beginner puzzle is by printing an image or photo on a piece of card stock, pasting it to several large wood craft sticks (the ones that look like giant popsicle sticks) and then, using a craft knife, slicing the pieces apart. Give your child all the separated pieces and watch him figure out how to put the image back together!

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Music

When kids play instruments, sing, listen to music, or dance they are also learning about creative and emotional expression, about sounds and tempo and pitch, and about body awareness and movement.

One of my favorite ways to encourage purposeful play though music is by having a dance party every day! Usually we dance while I’m cooking dinner, but sometimes we’ll stop everything in the middle of the day and just groove our little hearts out. The kids love it and, I have to admit, I love it too!

Books

Kids who listen to a story, pretend to read, look at pictures and turn pages are learning about language and vocabulary, how to express ideas, how to interpret pictures, and reading and writing skills.

One way we encourage a love of books is by reading to our kids every night. We also try to keep all of their books accessible to them at all times and I do my best to say yes if either of my children ask me to read to them randomly during the day. It’s hard sometimes, but I never want to discourage their love of books!

With just a little foresight and a little effort on your part, you can encourage your children to engage in purposeful play in so many ways. Set up their play area with stations for each category of play so that they are free to choose which activity to engage in at any given time. Remember, purposeful play is supposed to be enjoyable for kids, so give them plenty of options. And don’t forget to have fun with them when you have the chance!

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About the Author /

Cheyenne is an attorney, writer, speaker and blogger with a slight obsession for home decor, red wine, and good coffee. Cheyenne’s blog, Sense & Serendipity, focuses on inspiring others to create a home well loved and a life well lived. Cheyenne lives in San Marcos, Texas with her two children, Aislin and Hawkins.

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Instagram post 17862171103601373 All of these things make me happy. What would you add to your self care toolbox?⁠
I'm seriously needing some of these things tonight to start a new week. Hoping you mamas get some self care time too! 💕⁠
📷: @hallmark⁠
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Instagram post 17974795027288980 Was he dreaming he was riding a bike last night escaping from wild animals?! OUCH! 🤕🚲⁠
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Instagram post 18081610903134401 Praying that your toddler let's you get to sleep this weekend. 🙏💤⁠
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Instagram post 17853200368708392 SURPRISE! A little shocked, a little tired, and a LOT BLESSED. Congrats, @sarah_lit! ❤️⁠
📷: @sarah_lit⁠
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Instagram post 18073051357163780 When it comes to clamping the cord, our mottos is "what's the rush?" The blood volume in the placenta and cord at the time of birth is BABY'S blood. It's simply mid-circulation in the placenta at the time of birth. It just makes sense to leave it be and let it finish its job.⁠
No, the blood won't drain out of baby and go backwards into the placenta.⁠
No, your baby is not more likely to get sick from jaundice.⁠
Yes, your baby will still be getting oxygen while they figure out breathing, especially important if they need resuscitation.⁠
Yes, your baby will have better iron levels for the first year of their life.⁠
Look at how thick and engorged this cord still is at 4 and 18 minutes after baby was born. Just imagine how much blood baby would have lost if the cord had been clamped immediately, or at 60 seconds, 90 seconds, or 3 minutes! The placenta was expelled immediately before the 18 minute photo was taken. The pulse in the cord could still be felt even AFTER THE PLACENTA HAD BEEN DELIVERED! The cord was finally clamped and cut more than an hour after birth at 73 minutes. ❤️⁠
📷: @lawrenrosephotography⁠
Informative post and words by @bundleborn⁠
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Instagram post 17852665306696124 With the holiday season upon us and moms trying to make everything magical for their families, remember to stop and take a moment to take care of you. ❤️ Have a hot cup of coffee, a long warm shower and some alone time. Communicate this with your partner not as a wish but as a necessity. We must take the time to take care of ourselves to better take care of them. 💕⁠
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Instagram post 18095239591099259 After holiday feasting . . . this baby gets me.⁠ 🤣
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Instagram post 17844162355818683 I think I had a little too much turkey . . . and pie. 😬🍗🥧 #leggingsforlife⁠
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Instagram post 17990835490280335 I totally felt this way when I was pregnant. And kinda feel this way after all that turkey. 🤣🦃 Happy turkey day to all you expecting mamas!!⁠
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Instagram post 17852562805720320 Loneliness is a real thing in new motherhood and I want to be sure we talk about this. It's okay to say, "I feel lonely." We normalize one another's experiences when we share the reality of our journey. It can be so isolating when we bring our small human home and our lives revolve around his/her care. We feel detached from the outside world. The monotony of new motherhood can be heavy.⁠
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Here are some tips to combat isolation:⁠
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1️⃣ Get outside when possible.⁠
2️⃣ Video chat with friends/family.⁠
3️⃣ Join a virtual group.⁠
4️⃣ Invite someone to come over.⁠
5️⃣ Find a local mom's group.⁠
6️⃣ Listen to the radio or a podcast (it's interesting how this can make us feel connected with others)⁠
7️⃣ Run an errand--even grabbing a coffee via drive-thru can feel good.⁠
8️⃣ Get to know your neighbors.⁠
What would you add to the list?⁠
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📷: @hallmark⁠
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Instagram post 17855722339639264 ✈️ Tips to Survive a Plane Ride with Kids ✈️⁠
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Flying on a plane with your little one for the first time can be terrifying. Are they going to cry the whole time? How will they handle the airport, the turbulence and the landing? Well we have some tips that will help prepare you for your flight with your kids. Here's what to do to have a more enjoyable experience 😊 {Link in bio!}⁠
📷: unknown⁠
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