Play day 3rd August 2011August 3rd is Playday – the national day for enjoying, encouraging and celebrating play. What a lovely idea! As well as being great fun, play is essential to a child’s growth, development and acquisition of many skills, including:

• physical

• emotional

• mental

• social

• educational

• behavioural

So, it is a vital part of any child’s growing process.

What is play?

Play is a term used to describe a wide variety of activities that should be:

1. satisfying to the child

2. chosen by the child

3. creative for the child

So, play can be loud or quiet, realistic or fantasy, with other children or alone, with toys or without – in fact, play can be anything the child wants it to be. If you want to join in with the official Playday activities you can sign up and receive a free registration pack, plus there’s helpful resources for planning your event and a chance to publicise it too. But, if you don’t want to register you simply do what your kids want.

Some Suggestions For Play

Role play – children love to dress up and role play. Why not get them to dress up at the start of the day and stay in character all day. You could make your classroom a fantasy court for the day with a king and queen, a jester and townsfolk all made up with face paints, headdresses, and crowns and the children could make fantasy castles to decorate the classroom.

Learn a new group game – there are some really fun playground games around, Hop Scotch and Tag are two I’m sure you’ll recognise, and they are a great way to teach children to play together, share and to lose! Here are some you may not have heard of before:

• Freeze – one child if chosen as ‘it’. When ‘it’ catches another child they must freeze with their legs wide apart. They must remain frozen until another child crawls through their legs and unfreezes them. The last player frozen becomes the next ‘it’.

• Red Light, Green Light – similar to ‘What time is it Mr Wolf’, but with an educational theme. One player is chosen to be the caller. All the other children stand on a start line. The caller turns their back and shouts green light. When the green light is on the children must try to reach the caller as quickly as they can. However, at any time the caller can shout out red light and every child must freeze. The caller turns around to see if anyone is moving. Anyone who moves is sent back to the start line. The child who reaches the caller first becomes the caller for the next game.

• Spiders and Flies – one child is chosen as the spider. They must catch the other children – the flies. Once a fly has been caught in the spider’s web they must hold hands with the spider and the two continue trying to catch more flies. As they do, the chain of spider and flies gets ever longer, needing co-ordination and concentration to catch the remaining flies. The last player to be caught becomes the next spider.

Play each other’s favourite games – ask each child to bring in a favourite toy or game or say what their favourite game is and encourage them to get other children to participate in it. It’ll be a real insight into what goes on in the minds of your young charges!

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