Different Types of Play

Different Types of Play

Play is central to the development and learning for babies and children. Activities involving your baby or child will also include constant stimulation and interaction such as talking, singing and manipulative play, will occur throughout the day.

Sand play can be split into two categories wet sand and dry sand! Wet sand is for molding and shaping and this is best for making sand castles. Dry sand is the most relaxing to play with as it slips through your hands and feels so nice. Alternate between the two types to get the most educational value from it. For wet sand add items such as miniature cars and trucks, buckets and spades, molds, miniature animals, scoops, trowels, plastic sand forks Play is central to the development and learning for babies and children. Activities involving your baby or child will also include constant stimulation and interaction such as talking, singing and manipulative play, will occur throughout the day.

Free play time will allow your child to think independently and decide what activities they would like to play with.

Discovery play for your child will involve giving them various objects of different textures and colors to touch and see.

Educational play will be introduced in most activities which will involve your child being introduced to numbers, colors, animals and letters through arts and crafts, painting, coloring, puzzles, board games, books, jigsaws, dominoes, and memory and card games.  Weights and measurements through cookery, playing with scales and different sized objects, sizes such as big, medium and small, and colors with different brightly colored objects, matching games, suitable board games, books and jigsaws and so on. Also near and far, and other similar concepts. Listening to classical music will stimulate a child’s brain too, particularly Mozart! If your child is a bit behind in any of these areas then don’t worry, simply invest in a few games and spend half an hour a day concentrating on it. Also involve the subject in everyday life, such as counting the pegs used to hang up the washing or spotting different colored objects around the home.

Role play or pretend play this type of play is when a child really learns to use their imagination and this is very good for her intellectual development. Simple things like draping a sheet over two chairs to make a tent, house or even a castle, whatever takes there fancy! Old clothes such as a selection of wigs, hats and shoes are useful to dress up in. Children love dressing up and you can get them to make their own costumes.

Playing House is a form of pretend play where children copy what they see their parents do in the home, this is good for encouraging empathy in your child. You can provide for this by having dolls, clothes for the dolls, tea sets and play kitchens etc. Also children love to join in while you are cleaning and it’s a great idea to encourage it while they’re young. Giving them one of your dusters is fine but if they really want to help with the hover, then buy them their own miniature one. They will love it! It’s not just girls who enjoy domestic play although they do tend to be more interested than boys. Other items that are great for domestic/roll play are, a toy phone, a dustpan and brush set, a shop set with cash register. This is how children learn about life, by acting it out in play. We are their role models whether we like it or not!

Mini play is play with things like dolls houses, small figures/animals, small cars, train sets, and farm sets. Your child’s intellectual, language, emotional and social development will still be encouraged but so too will her physical. Manipulating the small figures or cars will help their fine motor skills! There is Playmobile © for boys and girls, sets and for the animal lovers there are vet sets and so on. There are some lovely play sets for animals, which involve different backgrounds on play mats.

Indoor activities will devise activities like painting, arts and crafts, making objects, board games, jigsaws etc. These encourage creativity and are similar to those activities mentioned in ‘Creative Play’.

Different Types of Play

Physical & Outdoor activities outdoor activities will always be dependent on weather conditions. Outdoor activities can then be broken down into gross motor skills and fine motor skills. That will include football, cycling, tennis, tag, walks, picnics and gardening (setting up a small area where your child can plant seeds and observing the growth of flowers or herbs). Swimming is excellent as well for developing physical strength and agility.

Out and About this can mean something as simple as a trip to the park, pet farm, museums, playgrounds or something more special like a day trip to the zoo! I’ve made a list of some trips that I go on, in the Activities section so take a look for some ideas!

Movie time on Fridays; with permission from both parents, will involve watching a movie that your child chooses (age appropriate). Go that extra mile and re-create the room into your own cinema. Turn off lights, close the curtains, and pop the popcorn!

Talk-time with your child involves talking about their day activities with your child and what they liked or did not like; making sure they are having fun, are happy and also learning something new every day.

Creative play, this type of play will encourage fine motor/manipulative skills, intellectual development through planning and naming their pictures and creations, language development through describing their projects, and social development when playing with friends. It includes things like drawing, painting, modelling, cutting and sticking. Also cookery is a creative pastime and is enjoyed by all children. It’s important to let your child do some simple cookery or else help you prepare a meal every week.

Reading will help your child’s language development, but they will also help a lot with social and emotional development. Intellectually, books are great as there are so many sold specifically to teach letters, numbers or colours for instance. Socially your child will learn about the world around them by reading stories relating to other people’s situations, teaching them to empathize with others, but also relating to their own circumstances. Stories about a new baby will help them if they a new sibling, or books about potty training when they’re going through that for instance! Visit libraries regularly as they are invaluable for being able to have a variety of books. Letting your child choose some books to take home is very exciting for them! Find out where your local library is.

Music, Singing, dancing and playing with some simple instruments is great for children’s physical development when manipulating the instruments to play them or when using their whole bodies in time to the rhythm of the music, intellectual development as music helps our minds develop, language development when learning and reciting new songs and rhymes, emotional development when singing and playing. Social development can be nurtured when singing and doing music with friends. Children not only love to sing traditional nursery rhymes, classical music will stimulate a child’s brain too, particularly Mozart but also pop and Jazz. There are so many tapes and CDs with popular children’s songs, and getting some simple Dancing in time to music and using rhythm in dance is great for physical development.

Water play most young children will get their opportunity to play with water when they’re in the bath with their bath toys, or in a paddling pool in summer! This is fine, but here are a few ideas you could try as well! Fill a clear container or basin with coloured water (use food colouring!) and add some plastic toys that are the same colour, or clear jugs so that she can see the colour through them. Another idea is to add some bubble bath to a bowl or basin of water and let your child wash dolls and their clothes in it, or wash her tea set etc. Use your imagination and add any plastic or waterproof toys to a basin of water to provide endless fun! Remember to make the water nice and warm and don’t give your child items or toys to play. Vary your selection with pouring, measuring and scooping toys. Also boats and some toy underwater animals and fish, fishing games, water/sand toys with wheels that turn, and watering cans! Also introduce items that sink and items which float. Again, use your imagination and add whatever you can get clean when finished playing. For dry sand play add sieves, spades and scoops, sand mills, water wheels, mini rolling pins, plastic sand forks, and anything which you could use to make shapes in the sand!

© Nanny Options

Browse other Parenting Guide articles from Nanny Options
or keep up to date with us on Facebook.



Related Categories

Gift Vouchers

Gift Voucher Present
Gift Vouchers now available for all our services.

Members of NRF

Members of NRF

Other Parenting Guide Topics

Parenting Classes

Parents are eager to learn more about the range of baby products available.


A range of topics from food advice and sleeping to Signs of labour and giving birth. 


A collection of articles to support you and help you understand your newborn better.