At Maia Purposeful Play we are passionate about providing diverse play experiences that are open-ended. These thoughtfully curated experiences aim to support the holistic development of babies and children. In open-ended play, children use their imaginations to guide it in different directions based on their individual interests, stages of development, and previous experiences. How a 14-month-old baby interacts with the water tray is vastly different from that of a three-year-old, yet both are learning and refining their skills as they play parallel to one another.
The simplicity in the design of our play experiences means that the setups do not change dramatically from the beginning to the middle and end of class. This ensures that children can have similar play experiences, even if they're not the first ones to engage in a particular area.
Below, we outline some of our regular play experiences to help you to better understand the reasons behind why we choose them. There are so many benefits to play, and these are just a few ways that these setups may support your child’s development depending on how they engage with each of them.
Loose Parts Play: Loose parts play offers children the opportunity to use their imagination to design, create, and build. It supports early engineering skills as they develop their creativity, think critically, and problem solve. Color recognition, sorting, and counting are examples of important math concepts which can be learned through loose parts play. As children lift and move the resources, they are enhancing their fine motor skills, building their hand-eye coordination, and developing an understanding of spatial awareness.
Water Play: Water play allows children to engage many of their senses, including touch, sight, smell, and sound. Children can feel the wetness and temperature of water, observe its color, notice how it moves, and listen to the sounds it makes. All of this contributes to children's sensory development. When children are engaged in water play, they may be introduced to and learn new words and phrases related to water, such as "splash," "pour," "wet," and "float." Engaging in water play with adults or peers promotes communication and social interaction, which can further enhance language skills. Most importantly, water play is a fun and enjoyable experience for children. It can be calming and regulating, which is vital for children’s overall well-being and happiness.
Rice Play: Sensory rice encourages imaginative play. Children can use their imagination to explore various scenarios, such as pretending the rice is an ocean or a farm, that they are making potions or cooking breakfast. This imaginative play boosts cognitive development and critical thinking. Pouring, scooping, and transferring rice from one container to another improve children's fine motor skills and build an understanding of spatial awareness and math concepts like volume, quantity, and measurement.
Magnetic Tiles: Magnetic tiles can be used on their own or in conjunction with other toys and resources such as cars, balls, or small world figures. As children manipulate the tiles to connect and build, they develop essential skills like spatial awareness, problem-solving, and fine motor skills. They also learn about shape, weight, balance, magnetism, and much more, providing a strong foundation for future STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) learning. Building with magnetic tiles requires patience and resilience. When children face setbacks, such as it falling or being knocked over, they learn to adapt and try again. This resilience can positively impact their confidence and well-being as they develop a growth mindset.
Sensory Mats, Stepping Stones, and the Rocker: Using sensory mats, stepping stones, and the rocker for climbing, jumping, and movement contributes to gross motor development and provides important sensory input. Children build up their confidence and self-belief as they improve their physical abilities and gain essential skills for balancing, body awareness, and overall motor coordination. These resources are also brilliant to support children’s imagination as they become boats, dinosaur mountains, beds for dolls, or stones to cross shark-infested waters. The possibilities are endless. As children practice taking turns and expressing themselves, it supports their social and emotional development.
Nature Play: Interacting with nature through mud, flowers, and sticks involves touching, feeling, and sometimes even smelling different textures and scents. The differing colors can be visually appealing. This sensory exploration helps develop a deeper connection to the natural world and makes the play experience more memorable. Exploring nature stimulates children's natural sense of curiosity and wonder. They may ask questions, make hypotheses, and seek answers to better understand their world.
The flowers used in our classes and workshops come from a local florist. These are flowers which cannot be used in bouquets as their stems may be broken or they are no longer at their freshest.
Well-being: Yours and your child’s comfort is another top priority of ours. The use of soft mats, blankets, and cushions means you are not sitting on a cold, hard floor. These little details make the experience even more enjoyable for children and adults alike.
We understand that different children have different preferences when it comes to their play. Some children like to sit or lie on the floor when playing while others prefer to stand and play at a height. With this in mind, we have tuff trays which are at the children’s height and some on the floor. We also offer play experiences which are not confined to a tray so children have more freedom to move them around.
If you have any questions about our play experiences, feel free to reach out via email firstname.lastname@example.org, DM us on social media, or ask us in person at one of our classes or workshops.