The four types of play, the six stages of play, the sixteen types of play! Independent play, sensory play, heuristic play… What does it all mean? Which one is best for your child?

Here’s a collection of our guides to all things play. We’ll show you which activities to offer your child – and when. We’ll look at toys and everyday materials. And we’ll see that the best approach is to simply set up the room for fun and exploration and get out of the way.

A child playing independently

Independent play

Become a creative self-starter who makes their own fun.

Read more about independent play.

Heuristic play

Heuristic play is discovery play. It’s how toddlers learn. It’s treasure basket play for mobile children. Offer interesting materials and leave your child to explore.

Read more about heuristic play.

A child exploring nested pots through heuristic play
A boy enjoying sensory play with sand at the beach

Sensory play

Before children learn to think symbolically, to represent ideas in their minds, they must learn what the world looks and feels and tastes like.

Read more about sensory play.

Small world play

Tell a story with figures and a simple setting. Whether it’s cardboard-box castle and wine-cork soldiers or a doll’s house with immaculate dolls, the game is the same. It’s life in miniature.

Read more about small world play.

A small world play scene with wooden animals

The four types of play

Read more about the four types of play.

A child playing with loose parts
A child playing alone with blocks

The six stages of play

Read more about the six stages of play.

The importance of play

Read more about the importance of play.

A child enjoying block play

Block play

Toys are tools for thought? And what provokes thought better than a simple wooden block? Spatial reasoning, pattern-making, positioning, balance, symmetry and schema play. The whole of the early years curriculum in a single toy.

Read more about block play.

Free flow play

Where will you play today? Indoors, outdoors, the kitchen or the bedroom? What will you choose? There are no rules. It’s up to you. It’s free-flow play.

Read more about free-flow play.

A child at play
A girl engrossed in imaginative play

Imaginative play

As children enter the preschool years they move from sensorimotor play to the age of let’s pretend.

Read more about imaginative play.

Symbolic play

This banana is a cutlass, that wooden block is a racing car. I am a superhero! Symbolic play marks a leap in children’s development, from the here and now to pretend play.

Read more about symbolic play.

A boy dressed up as a superhero