Skip to Main Content Accessibility Settings
  • Website Accessibility Settings
  • Provider Login (Opens in a New Window)
  • Get Directions
  • Get Directions

January 17, 2024

The Importance of Play in Early Childhood

Play is an important component of early childhood that supports children’s health and development. It is often described as “children’s work” and it has an important role in promoting fine motor skills (OT), gross motor skills (PT), and communication skills (ST). We would like to share different activities that can be done inside the house or outside to promote these skills in early childhood

1. Children can engage in various activities that can help promote their gross motor skills. Gross motor skills involve the large muscles in our arms, legs, and torso. Some activities that target gross motor skill development include:

  • “Simon Says” is a fun game to help children improve their body awareness
  • Homemade obstacle coursescan help target balance, coordination, and strength
  • Self-propelling on a scooter board
  • Completing sidewalk chalk obstacle course (walking the chalk line, jumping through hopscotch squares, stomping on some chalk circles, drawing hand and footprints to walk on)
  • Playing catch with a ball, balloon, or a bean bag
  • Climbing on monkey bars
  • Walking on balance beams
  • Completing scavenger hunts
  • Dancing

2. Children can gain strength and precision in their hands through play, which can help with activities like having a functional grasp on writing utensils, being able to manipulate clothing fasteners, and being able to open and close scissors maturely during cutting tasks. The following activities can help mprove
fine motor skills:

  • Tweezer games
  • Jenga
  • Stacking blocks
  • Insert puzzles with small pegs
  • Stringing small beads
  • Crumpling tissue paper for arts and crafts projects
  • Rolling play-doh into small balls, snakes, or letters
  • Molding putty of medium resistance or Silly Putty
  • Propelling self on a scooter board while lying on their belly
  • Tearing paper
  • Insert coins into a coin slot
  • Coloring a worksheet with broken crayons
  • Peeling stickers from a sticker book
  • Pop beads
  • Popping bubbles

3. Play helps a child become aware of their body and balance as they jump, climb,roll, and spin. Activities that promote body awareness and balance, include but are not limited to:

  • Completing multi-step obstacle courses
  • Completing animal walks (bear walk, frog hop, wheelbarrow walk, crab walk, etc.)
  • Pushing/pulling a wagon filled with heavy balls
  • Crawling through tunnels and over crash mats
  • Carrying a backpack with toys or books
  • Chair pushups and wall pushes
  • Throwing/catching a weighted ball
  • Swinging, jumping on a trampoline, and sitting/bouncing on the therapy ball help address our sense of balance and coordination

4. Play promotes language development, social skills, and emotional skills:

  • Ask open ended questions to your child when playing
  • When playing various games with peers or family members, encourage your children to learn about turn taking, helping one another, communicating with each other, sportsmanship, and regulating their emotions
  • While playing, you can sing songs with your child to facilitate language development (“Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “Wheels on the Bus”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”)
mail_outlineContact Us