Play is Exploration and Experimentation
In their play, children are experimenting with and exploring their encounters and experiences in the physical and social worlds in which they live. As they work with materials in their play, and encounter the ideas of other children, questions arise, new possibilities are imagined. Within this process of experimenting, exploring, and creating, children are working hard to make sense of the world and their place in it. It is in play that children are giving form to and expressing the meanings and understandings they are constructing.
“Along with other special patterns of play, the curiosity about and playing with “objects” is a pervasive, innately fun pattern of play, and creates its own ‘states’ of playfulness. Early on, toys take on highly personalized characteristics, and as skills in manipulating objects (i.e., banging on pans, skipping rocks, etc.) develop, the richer become the circuits in the brain. Hands playing with all types of objects help brains develop beyond strictly manipulative skills, with play as the driver of this development.”(1)
“From the earliest ‘pretend I’m the mama and you’re the baby,’ play is the model for the life-long practice of trying out new ideas. Pretending is the most open-ended of all activities, providing the opportunity to escape the limitations of established rituals. Pretending enables us to ask ‘What if?’” (2)
(1) “Play Science - the Patterns of Play.” The National Institute for Play. 2006. 30 July 2008 <http://www.nifplay.org/states_play.html>.
(2) Paley, Vivian. A Child’s Work. (92). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004.