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What is creative play?

What is creative play?
Uniplay - Playground Markings / News / Company news / What is creative play?

What is creative play?

In the UK, there are 16 different widely recognised types of play. One of the most important types is called Creative Play, which can have an important impact on a child’s day-to-day experience and development.

Here’s how many define creative play, why it’s important for childhood development, and how you can encourage this type of play at your school.

Defining creative play

Creative play is one of many ways children can express themselves while learning about the world. This type of play is defined by a key element of transformation of making something into something else either physically or entirely imaginary.

girl playground markings

Physical transformations

Some examples of a physical transformation include painting a picture on a once bank canvas, drawing pictures, building things with blocks, or even creating objects from clay. During the physical transformation children may alter objects or items according to their vision or perception.

Imaginary transformations

Whereas imaginary transformation might be as simple as imagining a stick is a dashing pirate sword. Children also respond to images and sometimes can imagine they are coming to life.

For example, illustrated playground markings in the form of colourful characters may soon transform into friends or enemies of children engaged in creative play. The characters may provide an element of perceived danger for children causing them to transform into heroes to save the day!

How it’s distinct from other types of play

It’s worth mentioning that creative play is distinct from imaginative play and is done entirely in the mind. Most children imagine new worlds, or places which don’t exist in the real world.


Role play is also distinct from creative play and involves play where a child pretends to be things like a pirate, princess, carer, police officer, and other roles.

The important thing to remember is all the different types of play have overlap and can cross over into other more complex types of play. As with imaginative and role play, one of the key features of creative play is that children use it to try out new ideas, explore new themes, and most importantly use their imagination.

Why it’s important

As we’ve discussed previously, there are several ways children benefit from creative play like developing language and communication skills, emotional development, boosting problem solving and developing physical skills. Creative play outdoors has a lot of other benefits which go well beyond simply ‘blowing off steam’.

In terms of developing language and communication skills creative play gives children the time to contemplate emotions and life — this is great for both developing the imagination and learning how to communicate with others.

kids playing playground markings creative play allows children to explore and learn about their emotions and how best to communicate them to others. Creative play stimulates a child’s problem solving skills by allowing them to ‘think outside of the box’ and to image the world unconstrained.

Creative play is important for helping children develop their independence and physical skills. When children are allowed to explore the world on their own terms, including climbing, jumping, or balancing on objects, they slowly start to develop their independence (especially at school). This is because they must rely on themselves if they fall or need help.

How-to encourage creative play at your school

So with all these benefits in mind, how can you transform your playground to encourage creative play? Well, for just a few ideas, you can start with great activity equipment with a range of bridges, rope ladders, things to climb up, or slide down, and dedicated places to engage in creative play.

A dedicated space for creative play might be a wooded area, large playground equipment with hiding places, ropes, and slides, or even an open tarmac area

You can improve on existing spaces, like open areas of plain tarmac by adding colourful roadway markings or trail markings to your playground to spark the imaginations of your pupils!

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!

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