Play is children's work
There are multiple types of play. Constructive play involves building and creating objects that last beyond the actual playing (if the child chooses). This type of play usually involves props like LEGO® bricks, blocks, dough or clay, cardboard boxes, and even toilet rolls or paper towel rolls. Exploratory play includes activities that encourage children to use their physical selves, including their senses, to figure out how things work. Jumping in a pile of leaves or digging in the sand at the beach are two examples.
Dramatic play happens when children take on roles and act them out. Sometimes these roles are based on real life experiences and other times they are completely imagined. In dramatic play, children often use easily available props to stand in for objects and characters in the story they create. Puppets, stuffed animals, and dolls are common props in dramatic play, as are common household items repurposed to fit children’s needs.
In all types of play, open-ended opportunities are important. Open-ended play is undirected play with props that have multiple possibilities. At the library, families will find boxes of LEGO® and Duplo® bricks in a variety of colors that children can use to build whatever they imagine without rules to follow. During storytime, children are invited to experiment with a variety of art supplies or explore a sensory bin filled with dried beans and small treasures — often without a prescribed goal, which is a key aspect of open-ended play.