Marble, lego, tag, drawing, mime, tongue twisters and reading. Playful games may change over the years, but they still remain the main way of learning for children , whether at home with parents and siblings, or at school, with classmates.
Playing is considered such an essential activity that it has been guaranteed by law by the United Nations (UN) since 1959 . According to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, “Every child shall have the right to play and enjoy himself, and it is up to society and public authorities to guarantee him the full exercise of this right.”
To explain the importance of play in the development of the child, we must first understand what a playful activity is.
The word ludic comes from the Latin ludos, which means games, fun. In other words, a playful activity is one that promotes pleasure and amuses the people involved. It can be through play, games and toys.
As the Dutch historian Johan Huizang used to say, play cannot be a task, much less must it be imposed by someone . In this way, the child’s desire to play is spontaneous and voluntary and, therefore, free.
What is the importance of playful activities in child development?
It may seem silly, but the act of playing goes beyond simple fun and pastime with friends . In the children’s world, play works as a fundamental tool for the development of culture, motor coordination, spatial notions and important skills such as memory, attention and imagination.
According to pediatrician Andréa Campagnolla, “the child acquires the ability to be a person through play”. By fantasizing and imagining, she adopts roles transferring and replacing everyday events and attitudes to play, making her more mature to deal with different situations throughout her life.
The way children draw and play is nothing more than a reflection of their thoughts and feelings about the world and those around them.
It is through play that the child understands the world around him, develops interpersonal skills, re-elaborating feelings, knowledge, meanings and attitudes. Therefore, playful play becomes essential in the child development process.
Playful activity for early childhood education
Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “Oh, that school is really bad, my son just plays!” This thought, which sees education separate from the act of playing, is wrong and outdated.
In the past, daycare centers and preschools were seen as places that took care of children’s basic needs, such as eating and sleeping. Today, they are considered educational spaces where children develop their full motor, cognitive, emotional and cultural potential. In this aspect, playful play becomes an essential tool in the process of education and training of the student, because it is through it that the child learns.
In addition to helping to build values and autonomy, teachers and educators can use play to promote literacy and develop skills such as concentration and logical reasoning.
When playing, the child understands notions of rules, of what is right and wrong, learns to relate to other children, building notions of collectivity and citizenship.
Five fun play tips for kids
Currently, children are exposed to a multitude of possibilities when it comes to entertainment: video games, YouTube videos, television cartoons, in short, the list is huge. With all this practicality and options that technology offers, many parents and guardians end up leaving playful games aside. Interaction with the screen of electronic devices is extremely passive, requiring no social skills from the user , explains Campagnolla. The result of this “are withdrawn and introspective children who have difficulty dealing with emotional issues.” There are activities suitable for different ages, but to help, we have prepared a list of five fun games that you can teach and also do together with your child.
1. Drawing, painting and collage
This is probably one of the most popular activities used by parents and educators. Art, in general, is a great way for children to express their thoughts and feelings about the world.
Just take a blank paper, pencil, markers and paints of different colors and let your imagination run wild. You can explore different themes for children to create something based on what they choose, for example: “holiday at the relatives’ house” or “draw the house of your dreams.”
If there are no paints or pencils available, the same can be done with clippings from magazines and newspapers, pasting the selected figures on the paper.
Who never played cabin in childhood? This is an old activity, but fun is guaranteed. Whether to imitate an army’s fort or just to have fun, this is one of the kids’ favorite schools.
In addition to promoting collaboration and teamwork, the cabin is a simple and easy game to make and, even better, you can use materials and objects available in your home.
To assemble the hut, you can use a sheet and attach it to different points in the room. Then, just get covers or mattresses and put them under the cover. Want to make the game even more fun? Turn off the light, get a flashlight and tell the child stories. The secret here is to let your creativity run wild!
3. Circle song and music
Music is a great way to stimulate your child’s affective listening, communication and coordination. In addition, this playful game also helps in the literacy process and learning of other concepts such as mathematics, for example.
Brazil has several educational and folk songs such as “Cai, Cai, Balão” and “O Sapo Não Lava o Pé”, but you can also create your own lyrics with the help of children.
Have you ever thought about creating a musical instrument with objects and items from the house? Is easy! Just separate cardboard and shoe boxes, cans, cutlery, pencils and branches. In this way, the child explores different types of sound and musical rhythms.
4. Puppet Theater
Children love to hear and tell stories, so how about putting together a puppet theater for the little ones? By incorporating a character, the child develops skills of expression and communication, in addition to stimulating the imagination. You can make your own puppet using old socks, buttons and ribbon.
5. Modeling clay
Modeling clay is a great example of playful play. Its different colors and shapes stimulate the child’s sensory capabilities, as well as their motor coordination and cognition. There are several brands of modeling clay available on the market, but you can make homemade clay at home with the following ingredients: – 4 cups of wheat flour tea; – 1 cup of salt tea; – 1 ½ cups of water tea; – 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil; – Colored and edible dye. To prepare, just mix all the ingredients, with your hands, in a large bowl and add the coloring at the end. Then just start the fun!
The list of playful games is huge, but regardless of the location and activity, the important thing is to let creativity speak louder and play in the children’s universe. For more play ideas, you can check out the booklet “Games and Games of Popular Cultures in Early Childhood” developed in 2019 by the Ministry of Citizenship with the aim of stimulating playful activity in child development.