Children learn through play even if it is not guided. In my experience providing the right material in the perfect setting will enhance a child’s play. The will learn more through free play then most people think. When children are in charge of their play they become creative and solve problems without someone else’s help. This is the type of play that children flourish and grow. Being able to make their own decisions and finding success in their work will boost a child’s self-esteem. Let kids make a choice in playing, guided play is good for specific activities but open-ended play sparks creativity. Playing with children can also help an adult spark creativity. Adults need to play too.
There are various reason why play is educational. When a play area is done right a child should gain strength in social/ emotional development, cognitive, and physical development. Having various expressive materials such music in a play area will let children express themselves through song and dance. This will also help with physical development. Reading books and problem solving with puzzles will help grow cognitive development. These domains are the foundation of a child’s learning and are important to have in a classroom.
Materials used for various age children need planning. For instence drawing materials are available for many ages and stages. When planning I will use markers that are erasable, some for toddlers thick and rounded for their hand size and regular markers for the older children who can hold a pencil. In the block area I have various sized blocks. Some of these blocks are easy to stack and build that will hold together and others take a little more effort. Planning and rotating the toys to keep the children interest is important.
Activities can used for various ages if you present them right. Using various materials can make an activity simple or complex to give older children a challenge or use a higher thinking level. Planning activities and monitoring play will help the teacher in evaluating if the activity is challenging or appropriate for different age groups. It is important to let the kids be successful yet learning new challenges.