The Importance of Play

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Ever since becoming a parent 5 years ago, I was really looking forward to a number of things to do with my children: playing lots, reading stories and getting crafty! Things, that too me build fabulous childhood memories, whilst also developing my children’s skills on a number of levels.

As you know, Red Ted Art is all about craft (which then often leads on to play!!), but it is also about creativity and imagination, which go hand in hand with play. In our modern society, our children are showered with toys, they are go from play date to party to play date, or have one afterschool club after another to teach them sports, music or drama. Their days are busy and structured and when they do have time to play, the toys they have tell them how to play with them.

I say: let’s wind back a little give them more down time and more natural play time. Afterall, that is what kids are best at: playing and inventing games. Here are some of my tips for getting kids playing more:

Less is MoreLESS IS MORE

The best play often requires very little. I am a big supporter of less (toys) is more (play and imagination). A stick becomes a stick MAN, a leaf a plate to eat from. In fact, my little girl needs nothing at all and just pretends she is holding a big cake and a cup of tea for my pretend birthday. My son is different, but we encourage pretend play regardless.  Even pretending takes practice!


Modern kids have stacks of toys.  Stacks of toys have a tendency to get all muddled up. Think big jumble says and how unpleasant it is to sift through to find something to like. Keeping kids toys interesting – though it may seem a chore, having toys sorted and tidy makes them much more fun to play with. You can then also have a “rotation” scheme – keep different toys in the children’s bedrooms and downstairs. Rotating them every so often. This is bit like getting your summer wardrobe out again and finding new delight in your clothes.


Imagination can make all play more interesting. Without imagination it is harder for children to engage in roll play with their playmobil or stuff teddies. But how can you nurture your child to have “more imagination”? Like everything it can be “practiced”. Playing simple every day games such as “cloud spotting” or simple word games. E.g. the next time you see “lovely” clouds in the sky, ask the children if they can spot an animal – or say what you can see. Then see if you can make up a short story – I can see a bunny – the bunny hopped down the meadow and went to sleep. Or give your child 3 words – e.g. car, pink and apple and get them to say a sentence – the Car was bored of being white, so it went off to paint itself pink, then it got hungry from all the work and ate an apple. Nonsense is good and will keep children entertained.  You can then also try and draw your story… These games can be played anywhere any time and with practice they will become easier and more fun.   


BOREDOM (aka Downtime)

Our generation of children are bombarded with activities, play dates and structured play. They are constantly entertained and their minds are never left to wander. Let them get bored (yes, they will whine) and see where the boredom takes them. Creativity is frequently born out of boredom. Boredom is good. Boredom gives their brain the “downtime” to think about other things. When kids get bored, they are more likely to invent their own games. When kids get bored, they are more likely to say, take a cardboard box, sit in it and start pretending that it something else.

And now to the “sponsored part” – the wonderful people at Actimel have gotten together to create a fantastic Family Wellbeing resource site. They are focusing on the following family areas of:

Eat – Play – Move – Connect – Learn- Give

Every two months Actimel is showcasing ideas for every category (some which I have shared with you here today). In addition, the have a fantastic Family Wellbeing Fund! This is an opportunity to apply for funds in each of the categories – entry is simple – write a paragraph explaining how you would use the money to make your Family Wellbeing better in the category you are entering for.

This month is all about – yes, you guessed it – PLAY:

PLAY – A family that plays together, stays together. From board games to museum trips and everything in between. Fun, stimulating activities are the name of the game here.
Example submission – Funding towards a family trip to a museum over the holidays.
Funding Opens March 1st – Closes March 29th.

What are you waiting.. come and enter. And then go off and PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS!