Creative Play for Curious Kids: Benefits and Examples


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Kids are born with natural curiosity. Playing and exploring gives them a way to learn more about their world. They love to pretend, chat and create.

Traditional school environments have shifted away from play experiences outside of recess and minimal center-based play in preschool.

A homeschool environment opens a world of possibilities for creative play, aka incredible learning experiences! Kids can be allowed to be, well… kids! This unstructured time of freedom without redirection or constant adult intervention is important for a child’s growth and development.

Likely you already know the benefits of creative play, but here are five reasons that hands-on, minds-on learning is great for kid:

  1. Problem-solving

Creative thinking and problem-solving are a natural result of creative play. As kids run into conflicts with their play, they process solutions and possible outcomes. They consider new ideas or ways of doing things.

These skills can transfer to real-life issues and help them become better at fixing issues on their own.

2. Fine & Gross Motor Skills

Creative play is active play. Kids are usually putting something together or moving around. Fine motor skills are exercised and become stronger with hands-on learning.

A child who is putting together Legos will become better at buttoning a shirt or using scissors. A child who is pretending to balance will need those skills with sports and other activities that depend on large muscle development.

3. Language Development

Kids develop language skills through practice and creative play provides a great way to grow their vocabulary. They use expressive words and language as stuffed animals or family pets become “students.”

The conversation with toys or during pretend play is a time when kids’ language skills can take off!

4. Imagination & Self-expression

Just as adults pursue hobbies and interests for an “creative outlet” our kids need the same opportunity. Creative play allows kids to imagine and express their thoughts and feelings.

We can learn so much more about our children by listening to them when they are engaged in creative play!

5. Social & emotional development

Creative play time lets a child immerse themselves in a world where they feel free and in control. Their stress and worries go away and they develop important social skills. Kids need this time as much as adults do!

10 Examples of Creative Play in Action-

  1. Legos/Blocks

A bucket of Lego pieces provides endless possibilities to build and grow imaginations. Let your future engineers get their start from the comforts of home!

Blocks allow kids the opportunity to make small versions of things they like to explore- parks, homes, bridges, roads- and this helps them make sense of the world around them.

2. Play-dough

I know it’s not the most popular type of play from a parent’s point of view (looking at that spot in my carpet) but put down some newspapers or take it outside and kids will take it from there.

Play-dough is excellent for fine motor skills and pretend play! The play-dough sets offer opportunities to create restaurants, salons and other businesses for your future entrepreneurs!

Kinetic sand is also a lot of fun for play exploration and is easier to clean up.

3. Pretend play with props

Go to a thrift store and chances are you’ll find a $2-3 bag that’s full of odd and end toys that create hours of pretend play! Kids may find doctor’s tools or a fire hat and they will have so much fun creating new games or playing with props. When they’re no longer being used, you can bag them back up for a donation and know that it was a great investment!

4. Stuffed animals

Stuffed animals provide a natural audience for kids! They bring out a kid’s confidence and let their personality shine through with fun pretend play.

If you have pets in the home, you may find they join in on the fun and add situations that spark more creative conversations!

5. Pots, pans & kitchen gadgets

Kitchen tools and gadgets make for great hands-on learning fun. Pots and pans make all kinds of sounds and spark natural curiosity.

Measuring cups and other utensils that are safe for small hands can be used for creative play now and math skills later.

6. Boxes

It’s true that many parents will say a toddler was more interested in a box than a gift for a reason!

Make a fort, a robot, a house, or just sit in a box for a new place to read or daydream. Draw or write on a box. There are many possibilities for an ordinary box to provide extraordinary fun.

7. Music & Dance

Music and dancing allow kids to be carefree and express their creativity. For the musically inclined kids, it becomes a part of their world and purpose.

Songs and dances are how many kids learn new concepts without realizing it. Shhh, don’t let the secret out and keep the music playing!

8. Painting/Coloring

There are so many ways to let kids paint and color beyond the traditional coloring sheet or poster board! Bathtub crayons, sidewalk chalk, color wonder markers, boogie boards are just a few creative tools that offer a fun way to explore colors, shapes, letters, doodles and much more!

9. Sand and/or water

Sand and water not only allow kids to be curious, they help with sensory issues too. Kids often let their imaginations run wild when play involves sand or water.

A small plastic kiddie pool creates a safe and easy contained space for playing with sand or water.

10. Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles have been around since 1767 so they have stood the test of time! But a puzzle could really be any types of objects that interlock or fit together.

Other types of puzzles aside from jigsaws are any type of object that opens, locks, zips or latches for kids to explore.

One of the best parts about creative play is that it’s a time for kids to gain independence and practice things they are learning. You will often hear common phrases said in your home as kids engage in play and make sense of the world around them. This lets us know that our kids are watching, listening and learning from us all the time!

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