Toddler Play Areas

Children love to imitate adult activities, particularly those activities they see you doing each day, so setting up a ‘home corner’ is a great idea. In fact you’ll quickly find home corner becomes a favoured play zone for your child, as it will offer them a mini version of the environment we adults inhabit each day.

It’s Easy

For younger children, you’ll only need to provide a few simple toys and lots of attention from you. Their play will mainly be imitative and you’ll need to prompt their activities – for example, ‘Let’s stir the soup.’

As they progress, you’ll need to provide open-ended toys and props so they can extend their play. This simply means looking for resources which the children can use with their own imagination to create their own roles or activities.

What’s The Value Of Home Corner Play?

As well as offering a safe and fun play environment for your child, home corner also promotes the development of a wide range of skills including:

  • problem solving
  • exploring
  • labelling and experiencing different emotions
  • practising social skills
  • refining fine motor and self help skills
  • encouraging co-operative play
  • stimulating creativity
  • the development of their imagination
  • encouraging humour
  • language skills

Which Props And Toys?

18 months – 2 Years

Your child will play in home corner alone or with you. She won’t need anything more than a tea set or cooking equipment.

2 – 3 Years

You can now start to extend your child’s play into the realm of imaginative play using different props. She’ll still benefit greatly from your participation and encouragement. Also, look for ways to extend her imaginative play beyond the ‘kitchen’ into other areas, to help her develop a full range of skills.

Resources: For kitchen play – toy kitchen equipment (stove, toaster, fridge etc.) either ‘home made’ or purchased, plastic food set, empty food boxes and containers, playdough and coloured water.

To extend her play: dolls, simple dolls clothes, strollers and cots.

3 – 5 Years

As you child begins to ‘pretend’ more in her play, she doesn’t need realistic materials or toys to help her play. For example a box can become anything in her imaginative play now – it doesn’t need to ‘look like something’. She’ll also enjoy using sand and water.

Now is also a great time to introduce your child to multicultural Australia by providing toys or props from a variety of cultures as well as her own ‘home’ items, for example you could introduce Chinese bowls and chopsticks etc.

Resources: Items from 2 – 3 years appropriate plus dress up clothes, cultural props and sand and water play equipment.

5 Years Plus

A lot of your child’s play at this stage is cooperative and will involve your child and her friends. Most important to her home corner play will be extra space!

You can also encourage her to extend her experience, by including writing and reading of recipes, or maps or stories in her home corner play.

Resources: Items from 2 – 3 years play plus extra space, pens, paper and stamps. Also let her use your furniture in her ‘creations’.

Your Role In Their Play

In the early stages of home corner play, you will be a crucial component of your child’s play. She will need your help to arrange, suggest ideas of what to make and do and guidance on how to ‘cook’ etc.

As your child develops, your role will become more of an onlooker who provides extra suggestions to help her extend or continue her play, when it appears to be faltering. You can also give ideas or prompt her thinking when problem solving is necessary.

As your child reaches five years, you can take yet another step back from her play. Basically you will become simply the supplier of all the necessary props for her play.

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