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The Importance of Playing with Creative and Imaginative Play Materials for Children

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What is Play?

Play is vital for every young child. It is the natural activity of childhood. It provides many ways for children to grow and learn.

Through play, children can:

  • Figure out how things work and solve problems
  • Develop their senses
  • Learn to talk and share ideas
  • Build strength and control of their bodies
  • Develop and express imagination and creativity
  • Learn about themselves, others, and the world
  • Express their feelings and energy in healthy ways
  • Increase their ability to concentrate

Many skills and abilities develop at the same time during play. For example, children building with blocks plan, observe size relationships and construction principles, develop coordination, build their muscles, use language and cooperate with others. They learn the value of borrowing and lending as they use each piece of materials during their play.

Creative and Imaginative Play Materials

1.Wooden Beads

This is a manipulative material that helps children develop hand and finger muscle, hand-coordination, and concepts, and concepts like size, color and shape. It also prepares the children understand the concept of patterns, sequence which is an important tool in math and language as in order of events like what comes next, before, after.

How to use Wooden Beads:

  1. Simple beading using the shoelaces. String beads help children develop eye-hand coordination. Children can come up with a necklace, belt, or a crown. Naming or labelling help them develop their vocabulary.
  2. Using a pattern card, a child can follow a certain sequence like yellow-blue-yellow or long red followed by a small yellow then another small yellow. In terms of numbers, a teacher can device a certain pattern like 2-2-4-2-2-4 or long, short, long, short. This activity helps a child understand the concept or events like after an event, what comes next, then next as in story-telling.
  3. Using small containers, children can classify the beads according to: color, size, shape. This exercise can further be used to explain the concept of sets and comparing sets as in more-less vs. few.
  4. Children can be encouraged to count how many small yellow beads there are in a set and compare it with other sets. This exercise is preparatory to understanding concept of one-to-one correspondence.
  5. Through the pattern cards, the child understands the concept of left to right which is preparatory to reading and writing.

2.Table Blocks

This is a construction material which helps children develop coordination and creativity. Children learn about math and science and build skills and coordination. Just like the floor blocks, children learn the concept of balance, quantity, symmetry, etc.

How To Use Table Blocks

  1. Two or three children can play with one set of table blocks at one time. Since this material is unstructured by nature, the children are free to come out with any design allowing them to imagine, create, build, rebuild, explore and manipulate. The child is the determiner of sequence, form, and content as he uses them. They change as he changes them.
  2. Using this material will help the child learn concepts of color, form, and size. Most of all the child is free to create and use his imagination. He learns language (vocabulary building) as he names or labels his piece of work.
  3. Encourage the child to count the number of pieces he used.
  4. Help the child identify the shapes he used like cylinder, long block, square, triangle, etc.
  5. The child develops social values like borrowing and lending, cooperation, waiting for one’s turn, and respect for the work of others.
  6. Teacher can use the table blocks to explain addition and subtraction in numbers.


These materials because of their precise size helps the child develop his fine muscles, motor dexterity as he piles up one cube on top of another.

How to Use the Cubes:

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  1. A child may be encouraged to put cubes on top of the other. Count how many cubes were piled up before these topple down.
  2. Child can use the cubes to classify color using small containers like small baskets or boxes to sort out all the red ones, green ones, etc.
  3. As the child classifies the colors, he can count each set and compare with the other sets: concepts like many, more, few, less are learned.
  4. Using pattern cards, a child can guess what color comes next in sequencing the inch cubes. Example

Red blue blue red blue

Using the pattern card, the child can be encouraged also to place the cubes in the card to match the color or to place the cubes above each space.

This way, the child understands the concept of sequence.

  1. The child can be encouraged to color each cube drawn on the card or drawn on a piece of paper using a single card, to reinforce following of instructions: understanding instructions and at the same time figure out which among the children have fine motor skills by coloring the cube on paper evenly.

4.Spindle with Buttons

This material is very good in bringing about the concept of” situation, height comparison, motor skills (eye-hand motor), counting and understanding number concepts like comparison of more-less, greater, fewer, etc.

How to Use

  1. A teacher can cut numbers 1-10 from an old calendar and paste these numbers accordingly on the side of spindle buttons with the pasted number. The buttons are colored so that the children will discover by themselves the number of buttons to be placed on each spindle.
  2. A child can be encouraged to count all the buttons.
  3. Teacher can ask question like:

How many buttons should you place on the pink spindle if the neighbor has this number (5) of buttons?

The child understands the concepts of 1-10 because he sees concrete objects. He counts not by rote but by true understanding. He understands the meaning of each number- that 5 is greater than 4 and that after number 5-comes number 6.


Children are curious, inquisitive, and always excited about learning new things. Learning for them comes naturally and the best way to teach children is to build on play and their natural learning styles.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cynthia

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