Exploratory Play Activities for Toddlers and Why They Are Great

Kids in their early years are sponges. They absorb everything through their senses to learn about what surrounds them from a very young age. 

We understand that as a parent, you want to keep them safe and prevent them from touching things that could hurt them or wander around on their own. The world seems so big for them, and you don’t want anything to happen that could hurt them.

However, they need a certain level of independence for the correct development of their reflexes and cognitive process. Remember that this world is new for them, and they are getting used to it.

At Spimbey, we want to make sure you spend time with your children and create beautiful moments together in a safe environment, so we’re going to teach a great way to do so with exploratory play.

What is exploratory play?

Exploratory play is a branch of Heuristic Play and allows children to build motor skills and learn about their environment. Instead of giving them toys, kids play with everyday objects to encourage them to get familiar with their surroundings and explore without restrictions but with supervision.

As we have stated before, this play relies on their senses. Through this method, the child explores the different forms, shapes, textures, and tastes to acquire information and experience.

For what age does it work?

Psychology establishes an age range between the first months to 3 years. Since all our surroundings are new to them, they find everything exciting and are curious to get to know it all.

As they don’t know the name of things and what they work for, this stimulates the cognition process and gradually introduces the child to the different objects, sounds, colors, and other elements around them.

Benefits of exploratory play

Exploratory play is a safe way to spend time with your children and entertain them with objects you have around in a way that they learn something and get skills in the process for further development as individuals.

Among the many benefits exploratory play has, we could highlight a few:

  • Improves their attention span and concentration
  • Help them associate objects, textures, sounds, and tastes
  • Develops different coordination and motor skills
  • Improves sensory and cognitive learning
  • The items are within reach of your hand
  • You are part of your children’s learning process and get to spend quality time and create memories with them

What do you need for exploratory play? 

Parents buy lots of toys and are often disappointed when their toddlers end up playing with the box rather than the toy itself. 

This happens because they don’t know what toys are or what to do with them. Instead, they are attracted to box or wrapper materials which in most cases are easier to handle and can tear, crack or punch.

For exploratory play, you only need things that are available at home, such as cups, bowls, plastic containers, paper, scented objects, sponges, and so on.

Sand is another interesting material for them to explore, it is a different and new texture slipping through their fingers. However, natural sand is probably not as ideal since it can hurt the little one and it may not be the most hygienic. Go for safer options, like Play-Doh.

Exploratory play ideas

  • Catch-up game: this is great for improving your kid’s reflexes. Gather some items that aren’t heavy and softly throw them for your kid to cath, kick or just pick up from the floor.
  • Mirror, mirror: your child knows what you look like, but of course, they can see themselves. Get to a mirror or grab a small one and show them their body parts. Then ask them to point it at you.
  • Explore nature with them: I bet they have spent most time indoors as toddlers since most of us are overprotective over our babies. Go out to your patio with them and let them get to know the grass, little stones, the sound of birds, and all those elements that are so curious for them. They want to explore those unknown grounds, and you should let them.
  • Grab a snack with them: exploratory play also involves the sense of taste. It doesn’t have to be just toys, the eating time is also a learning opportunity for them. In the Montessori method, children are involved in the food-making process according to their age. Being small children, you can pass some foods and associate them with their names. Also, don’t worry if they get dirty. Let them eat with their hands. That way, they get used to the textures and improve their mobility.

How to make it safe?

Of course, most of these items are not created for children. That could make it a little bit unsafe without supervision, that’s why we recommend you:

  • Make sure the objects aren’t too little for them to swallow
  • Check if the objects have sharp corners that could hurt them
  • For scented items, read and research if they are not toxic
  • Have an eagle eye on them. After all, they’re kids. They’ll be out of your sight within seconds.

Family time with Spimbey

Having a great relationship with your children is very important for them at a very young age. You are the person they look up to. We want you to be involved in their childhood and have fun with them in safe ways.

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