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Types of play

Children learn and develop through different types of play.

Physical play

Physical play can include dancing or ball games. This helps your child build their muscles, bones and physical skills.

You should encourage your child to move as much as possible.

Social play

By playing with others, children learn how to take turns, cooperate and share. This also helps them to develop their language skills.

You can encourage social play by taking your child to playgrounds. Parent and toddler groups can also help them meet other children.

Constructive play

Constructive play is where children experiment with drawing, music and building things.

This helps them to develop their movement skills and become less clumsy. Constructive play also helps children to understand distance and size. An example of this could be if objects are small or far away.

Encourage your child to do arts and crafts and play with building blocks.

Let your child work problems out for themselves during constructive play. This is important. It is better than trying to show them the 'right way' to do something.

Fantasy play

Using their imagination during play is good for your child’s communication skills. It is good for them to create their own games.

You can encourage your child to develop their imagination by giving them props. These could be things such as a whisk and bowl if they are pretending to be a baker.

Dress up costumes also encourage fantasy play.

Games with rules

Games with rules can teach children about fairness.

You can play simple games like 'Simon says' or 'Duck Duck Goose' with younger children.

Board games are also a good way of teaching children about rules, as well as being a fun family activity.

Find play activities for children aged 12 to 24 months -

Stages of play

Page last reviewed: 15 September 2022
Next review due: 15 September 2025