Sometimes referred to as ‘imaginative play’ or ‘role play’ children engage in creative play through immersing themselves in their own imaginary worlds, dreaming up stories and scenarios involving their favourite stories and characters – sometimes completely of their own making! It’s a vital part of their childhood development, just as important as the physical development that might be encouraged with our Active Zones. And just like physical development, creative play can be enhanced with carefully chosen thermoplastic playground markings. Here are some of the most crucial ways children benefit from creative play, and why schools should do their best to encourage it.
While children learn vital communication skills in class, they first start learning these independently at home, and their creative play sessions will be where they do an equally important amount of learning. Creative play allows children to expand their vocabulary and experiment with words and sounds, without the pressure of a classroom environment. Younger children especially are well known to narrate aloud and talk to themselves about what’s happening, expanding their imagination. Playing with others, meanwhile, helps them to develop key interpersonal skills in communication and negotiation; for example by deciding amongst themselves who will ‘play’ different roles. (Much like the decisions about who plays Joseph and Mary in school nativities – but thankfully not quite as contentious!)
One of the fantastic things about creative play is that it serves as a brilliant outlet for both positive and negative feelings. It helps children to understand and express complex emotions, as well as develop coping mechanisms for the negative ones. For example, engaging in creative play helps children to connect to their favourite characters – whether these are existing ones like those found in our colourful characters and objects playground markings, or creations entirely of their own imagination. Other playground markings like our How Do You Feel Today markings can similarly help children to articulate and express their emotions, giving them invaluable skills for later life.
We’ve already touched on this above; although not quite as intensive as the exercise they’d get from our sports and courts markings, for example, creative play can still provide children with valuable opportunities for developing their physical skills. They can express themselves both verbally and non-verbally, using actions to express themselves within the context of their stories or games. This has a number of positive benefits, including increasing their hand-eye co-ordination, as well as their overall fitness. This is especially useful for shyer children who dislike the pressure of competitive games, and therefore might be missing out on the exercise that games like football and basketball would normally give them.
Creative play is, above all, stimulating for the mind, and gives children plenty of opportunities for trying out new ideas, ways of thinking and ways of communicating. For example, simple toys like hula hoops and footballs can be used to represent an almost endless range of props, characters or simple plot devices, and each might have its own distinct ‘voice’. In this way, it can be especially useful for reinforcing classroom lessons in a fun, informal setting, which takes the pressure off and helps them build their confidence. In the course of their play they might employ an array of basic maths or literacy skills such as measuring, sorting, counting or spelling. (Again, this can be encouraged with a select number of our thermoplastic playground markings here at Uniplay, such as our letter games or number games grids.
Our philosophy at Uniplay is “to see children of all abilities develop essential skills through play” and we specialise in the design and installation of thermoplastic playground markings, giving playgrounds colour and creativity to enhance play, fitness and fun. You can choose your favourites from our extensive range of categories, or if give one of our friendly experts a call on 0333 321 6695 if you have any questions, or need any advice. We’re always happy to help!