The Power of Make Believe: Encouraging Pretend Play

The Power of Make Believe: Encouraging Pretend Play

by Michelle Albright, PhD, innovativeKids Tis the season for dress ups! Is your child going to be a cheetah, a pirate, a princess, a superhero? Halloween costumes are all about making believe. But what about everyday pretend play? Young children learn by imagining and doing. Sometimes, kids need a little help from their parents to break out of their routines, get creative, and really use their imaginations. Here are some tips you can use to inspire them! Plan for play. Ask your children what they want to play and encourage them to think about the different characters, props, or scenarios they might want to create. Help your children figure out what roles they will play and how they might act like a dragon, talk like a teacher, or move like a bird. Look to...

5 Lessons Learned from Playing Board Games

5 Lessons Learned from Playing Board Games

by Sherr Artemenko, Play on Words  The holidays say family time and as the snow falls and forces us inside by the fire, we have a perfect time to pull out a favorite board game to name each other’s doodles, race for some treasure or spin a story from picture cubes. What can kids learn from playing board games? 1. Social language: Kids learn the language of social skills as they take turns, respond to a player’s last move and are good sports win or lose. Preschoolers have a harder time reigning in their desire to win, so cooperative games are a great choice for their game cupboard. Here, emphasis is taken off of competing against other players and on teaming to overcome the ogre, cat or villain. I’m constantly modeling “Great job” or “Nice playing” for kids to...

The Power of Pretend

The Power of Pretend

by Ellen Metrick, National Lekotek Center I’ve been in the working world for a good stretch of time and although my office attire is often a touch casual, there are occasions when there‘s a demand for me to attend important functions and power-up my outfit. Tucked into one section of my closet is what I term my “power suits.”  I think we all have our own version of a power suit –those outfits that make us feel professional, polished, pretty or powerful. I read about how presidential candidates pick out their power suits and power ties before important debates or political rallies.  I suspect we’re all guilty of dressing up, just like a young kid, when we need a boost of confidence or to assume an important role in our lives. Halloween is a great...

The Power of Make Believe: Encouraging Pretend Play

The Power of Make Believe: Encouraging Pretend Play

by Michelle Albright, PhD, innovativeKids Tis the season for dress ups! Is your child going to be a cheetah, a pirate, a princess, a superhero? Halloween costumes are all about making believe. Photograph courtesy of Jaimie Duplass / Shutterstock.com But what about everyday pretend play? Young children learn by imagining and doing. Sometimes, kids need a little help from their parents to break out of their routines, get creative, and really use their imaginations. Here are some tips you can use to inspire them! Plan for play. Ask your children what they want to play and encourage them to think about the different characters, props, or scenarios they might want to create. Help your children figure out what roles they will play and how they might act like a dragon,...

Run! Jump! Climb! Ideas for Developing Gross Motor Skills through Indoor Active Play

Run! Jump! Climb! Ideas for Developing Gross Motor Skills through Indoor Active Play

by The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association Oftentimes we are so concerned with our children’s developing academic and cognitive skills (Are they identifying their letters? Know their numbers?), that we forget about the development of other basic skills like controlling large muscles of the body. The good news: It’s easy to nurture your child’s gross motor skill development — all you need to do is play! Children learn physical motor skills best through their everyday, natural experiences. Whether it be indoors or outdoors, children of all ages need active play to build strong muscles and develop coordination. Time and space to roll, crawl, walk run, climb, jump, throw things, and more! Some of the easiest ways to enhance your child’s gross motor...

Make Believe: Imaginative Play is Good for the Mind

Make Believe: Imaginative Play is Good for the Mind

by The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association Children — especially young children– learn by imagining and doing. We’ve all seen our kids grab a spoon, pretend it is a microphone and break out in spontaneous song. Or watched that same child grab a salt shaker at the dinner table and make it ‘zoom across the spaghetti bowl’ like a flying superhero. In those moments, your child is using an object to represent something else while giving it action and motion. The pretend play is helping them organize their understanding and make sense of the world around them. Imaginative play is crucial for developing emotional and social skills, problem-solving abilities and language skills. Creative play teaches kids how to make decisions and control their...

Toy Trends for Children with Special Needs

Toy Trends for Children with Special Needs

by Ellen Metrick, National Lekotek Center Toy Fair proved to be exceptional this year, celebrating the 110th year for this Toy Industry Association event. Although there were many overall trends, what we strive to do is to view all the new product offerings with a lens on how they might relate to children with special needs. This year, three areas that we felt were well-served and are particularly important to children with special needs are: Toys that offer a social and/or emotional component App appeal and accessibility Toys that include a sensory experience Social Emotional Health is an area of child development that is getting a lot of attention. Children are being exposed to stress factors at younger and younger ages in the form of academic and social...

Learning Through Play: Build Cognitive Skills

Learning Through Play: Build Cognitive Skills

by The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association At one point or another, we’ve all wanted to solve the world’s problems. Or maybe just one problem. Ironically, our ability to understand, connect and empathize with others around us and the world at large didn’t necessarily develop from our academic achievements. Our problem solving abilities were most likely developed through our childhood play. In a recent CNN Opinon article, Want to get your kids into college? Let them play, Erika Christakis, MEd, MPH, and Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD, state: Academic achievement in college requires readiness skills that transcend mere book learning. It requires the ability to engage actively with people and ideas. In short, it requires a deep connection with the world. For...

Parents, Playmates and Playthings: How Your Child Plays

Parents, Playmates and Playthings: How Your Child Plays

by The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association Play involves interaction. Whether your child is doting on a doll in a round of “let’s play doctor,” chasing a friend around the playground in a game of tag, or performing a scene from a movie at the dinner table for their parents, play is a process of engaging. While parents may be the first playmate (or play thing), as your child develops you’ll start to see him or her engage with peers and playthings in different ways. Here’s how the evolution progresses: Parents Baby see, baby do. Parents are a baby’s first and most favorite playmates and playthings. From birth, kids are ready to play. Songs, rhymes, peek-a-boo, and finger plays are simple social interactions that are stimulating, soothing, and fun for...

How to Host (and Survive) a Slumber Party

How to Host (and Survive) a Slumber Party

by Amy Saldanha, kiddywampus So, your child wants to have a sleepover. Great. Because the thought of a gaggle of kids giggling and racing around the house all night is every parent’s dream, right? Don’t stress. Here are some no-fail tips for making sure your child’s slumber party doesn’t end up being a nightmare. Make a Plan Talk to your kids about what they want to do, what their friends might enjoy, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Do the kids want uninterrupted “hang-out time or do they need more structured activities? Do you know the personalities of the guests involved and can you predict any situations that might occur? Are there rooms in the house that are “off-limits” to the party guests? What will happen if guests can’t agree on an activity? Movie...