Play for the Under 3’s
The youngest babies can start to explore even before they can sit up, by having mobiles and mirrors within easy reach, and caring adults to hold them, talk to them and show them things. Once they can sit, our babies enjoy Discovery play.
Discovery play is provided through carefully prepared treasure baskets, full of objects which babies can safely explore for themselves. They are filled with interesting things for babies to grab and feel, shake and taste and smell. A small group of babies sitting round a basket can enjoy picking things out to investigate, and share the pleasure of objects that interest them. Some babies will concentrate hard on something that looks or sounds exciting, and we can see that they are developing all their senses, and their powers of thinking. Needless to say, if it isn’t fun, they won’t bother to carry on exploring!
Older babies are able to move around the floor finding things to experiment with. At this stage they are experimenting to find out what they can do with the things they discover. Adults assist and observe them, ensuring their physical safety if they are unsteady, and sorting toys and objects for children to discover and investigate, but intervening as little as possible. We call this Heuristic play.
Heuristic play requires plenty of space for children to move around, and plenty of objects for them to explore without frustration. The objects are things which can be banged or shaken, pushed or pulled, posted into openings or collected into sets. Part of the session is devoted to sorting things out and tidying them away. Children’s logical thinking is helped by all these activities, and they continue to use all their senses, as well as utilizing their ‘fine motor’ skills’ to handle small objects.
Toddlers continue to explore their environment as their own physical skills develop. They are able to fit things together and put things inside each other. They enjoy building things, from a little tower of three bricks to an enormous pile of cardboard boxes, and can start to use simple construction toys. Play of this kind involves continual problem solving – ‘how can I stop that falling over?’ – ‘why do my wheels keep coming off?’ Research has shown that children do a lot of hard thinking when they are deeply involved in activities of this kind. Two common kinds of play are called Constructive play and Imitative play.
Constructive play occurs when children start to make things. They use both their logical and their physical skills to construct objects which match up to their ambitious imaginings, and don’t fall down!
Imitative play occurs when children start to copy the things that adults do. This includes simple acts like shutting the door (over and over), picking up a pen and making marks on a pad, or putting things in the washing machine. Children may also surprise us by being like us – feeding their dolls, or talking on the telephone. They are showing that they are beginning to learn the ways of the world they are growing up in, and are trying out a sense of their own identity, a very important aspect of learning.
Play for the Over 3’s
From the age of 3 to 5, it sometimes seems as if children spend all their waking hours playing. This is the period when children put huge amounts of energy and effort into many of their play activities. It is up to us to ensure that they are exercising their minds as well as their bodies, at the same time as giving them greatest possible enjoyment.
At Toad Hall we cater for all kinds of play for over 3’s. These include Pretend Play, Constructive Play, Creative Play, Exploratory Play, Physical Play and Structured Play.
Pretend Play: dressing up and pretending (mothers and fathers, doctors and nurses, Batman and Robin), or whatever interests children is an important way of exercising children’s imaginations, developing their language and social skills, and helping them explore their own identity. Some children prefer to ‘pretend’ with small world toys like cars and little people, and can be just as imaginative in these activities.
Constructive Play: children’s play with small construction toys like Lego, large building blocks, and ‘junk’ for modelling, teaches them logical thinking and spatial awareness, as well as developing their hand and eye co-ordination, and their fine motor skills.
Creative Play: children explore and represent their world through drawing and painting, singing and dancing and making music. They are learning to communicate their ideas and feelings, as well as acquiring new physical skills.
Exploratory Play: children have access indoors to sand and water and all kinds of equipment to use with them, but they also get the chance to look at the world outside: the earth and stones, trees and leaves which make up our outdoor environment, and the small creatures who live there.
Physical Play: outdoors in our playground, the children are encouraged to run and jump, climb and balance, and explore their environment actively. All children are encouraged to venture outdoors, but if the weather is bad we have indoor spaces where children can stretch their legs too.
Physical Play: gradually, most children begin to enjoy working at more structured play activities. These may include jigsaw puzzles and table-top games, and the wide range of computer activities available. Some of these activities have ‘rules’ and ‘goals’ : there is a right way to do them, and success is achieved by completing the puzzle or winning the game. Other activities enable the child to find out new ways of playing them: this includes many computer activities, and table-top equipment such as pegboards, bricks and mosaics.
- Our Curriculum
We believe that children are born with the desire to learn about themselves, about other people, and about the world around them. Our Curriculum describes the full range of experiences we offer children.
We have developed a curriculum for all our children, from babies to pre K. Our experienced staff plan their daily activities with the children in their age group on the basis of plans for the whole centre.
The whole curriculum consists of ten areas of development:
Science & Technology
English Language Acquisition
During the year many special events are organised here at the center: Teddy Bear's Picnic, Easter Egg Hunt, Splash Days, Christmas Party so please look out for these in our newsletters.