Heuristic play

I attended a children’s birthday party over the Summer on one of the hottest days of the year.  The parents had laid on a huge bouncy castle, 2 paddling pools, they had ice lollies and choc ices and a very impressive birthday cake.

However, It wasn’t the nice cool paddling pool or the bouncy castle that were the biggest hit with the children, nor the choc ices, ice lollies or birthday cake but a very large cardboard box the Grandfather had knowingly placed in the middle of the lawn! They spent hours crawling through it, chasing one another around it and using it in their role play for all manner of scenarios.

I don’t know why this surprised me particularly, I am fast learning as a new mum that the money I have spent on ball pits, a paddling pool and expensive jumperoo is pretty much wasted!

Watching my son play, it’s clear that the things he really enjoys are everyday objects – a toilet roll tube, a cardboard box, even a clean nappy!  He likes nothing better than clanging the pots and pans and baking trays in the kitchen or playing with my car keys!

This is what is known as “Heuristic play” which describes the activity of babies and children as they play with and explore the properties of ‘objects’. Heuristic play was a term coined by a child psychologist Elinor Goldschmeid in the early 1980’s.

I have developed my own treasure basket and heuristic play trays here at Aston Childcare and give children the opportunity to regularly explore natural objects or everyday household objects. As always, the utmost of care is taken to ensure there are no choking hazards and that all items are age appropriate.


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