Parkland Players

6 Types of Play Important in Early Childhood Development

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Researchers are increasingly finding that play is essential to development in the early years. As a parent, you likely see recommendations from all kinds of places to engage your children in more play in order to stimulate healthy development.

However, it is important to also understand that play is not limited to the conventional activities we see on the playground during recess and lunch. Play is a dynamic action that can take a variety of forms and changes with your child’s development over the years.

According to American sociologist Mildred Parten Newhall, there are actually 6 general types of play that are applicable for ages 2 to 5 years old. These various types of play each have a variety of benefits for the child, and learning about these distinctions can help parents better understand how to guide and support their child’s development through play in the early years.

  1. Unoccupied Play: although Parten defined this as not truly play, this is actually the most basic level of play. At this stage babies and toddlers are starting to figure out what play is. Their play behaviours are disorganized and mostly involve creative body movements, but there is a lot more going on during this kind of play than meets the eye. Children engaged in unoccupied play are not only developing their play skills but also developing their understanding of the world through movements, the senses, and exploration of the environment.
  2. Independent or Solitary Play: This stage or type of play can be understood as the play that happens when children are on their own. Solitary play can take a variety of forms, for the more introverted child, it may mean reading a book quietly in the corner of a cozy room, for the more energetic child, it may involve running around outdoor and engaging with nature, picking up sticks and observing insects in the garden. Whatever form independent play takes, it is important for the development of self-concept and self-esteem. Children need to be comfortable with themselves in order to have successful social interactions in the later years.
  3. Onlooker Play: most parents are familiar with that moment when their child sort of freezes and gets lost in watching mom or dad do something they find interesting. Eventually, they may even begin to imitate the actions that they have observed! This kind of play is good for learning new skills, finding new interests, but also bonding with parents. If parents can get their child involved when they are playing in the onlooker style, then parents and children can play together and this will strengthen attachments.
  4. Parallel Play: parallel play can be understood as playing beside other children, rather than with others. Children may share the play space and toys but their play is still mostly independent. This kind of play is the first step in learning how to engage in more social kinds of play. Children develop important communication skills like sharing with others and giving other children enough personal space.
  5. Associative Play: At this stage, children begin to play with others, but their goal-directed behaviours within playing may be different. For example, children my enjoy making art together, they will use the same supplies, share their work, but their individual artistic goals are different. Children begin to develop this sort of play around age 3. This is important for expanding social experiences and lengthening attention spans.
  6. Cooperative Play: in this sort of play, children have already practiced a lot of their social skills and are now ready to incorporate teamwork into their play activities. Children are capable of playing together with a common goal or purpose. For example, a group of children may decide to play a game of soccer together. They all know the rules of the game, agree to follow them and attempt to play according to this structure. This stage of play helps to further develop social and emotional skills like communication, problem-solving, compromising with others, positive attitudes towards teamwork, creating friendships and building confidence and self-esteem.

There you have it, six types of play in early childhood! Although this kids of play are presented as though they are stages and children graduate from one to the next, this is not always the case. Play is fluid and children may exhibit various types of play all at one age, just in different settings.

So, keep encouraging your children to play, and when you get the chance, play with them! The benefits are endless, and you just might have some fun as well!



Why Summer Camps Programs Can Be Beneficial for Your Child’s Development

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Summer is often seen as a great opportunity for kids (and parents) to take a break from the busy school year. But just because you are resting and relaxing with the better weather doesn’t mean that your child’s development and learning stops! For this reason, Summer Camps and educational programming in July and August can be incredibly beneficial for children of all ages.


Summer Camps can help children to continue to develop social and emotional skills such as building friendships. It also helps them keep practicing and maintaining routines. Furthermore, a lot of summer camps programs have cognitive, literacy, and science educational programming built into them which can help children continue to use those skills, so when they come back to school in September they are well-prepared.


For a great article on the benefits of summer programming, go here:


Spring Time Nature Collages

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Developmental Goal/Activity Objective: To practice creative art skills while learning about the environment.

Materials Needed:

  1. Contact paper OR clear plastic and glue
  2. Nature materials


  1. Go on a nature walk and collect some outdoor items.
  2. Put out some contact paper with the sticky side up.
  3. Use the materials from outdoors to make a collage by placing the items on the sticky contact paper.
  4. Seal them in with a second piece of contact paper stuck to the first.
  5. Display in the window for best effect.


Guidance and Safety Considerations

Contact paper is sticky, might need to be taped to the table to be easier to work with.






IQ vs EQ: Why Emotional Learning is Important

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Today we are sharing an article form “Today’s Parent” about IQ and EQ. For those that don’t know, IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient, and in this context can be understand and the traditional understanding of academic learning. EQ stands for Emotional Intelligence Quotient, and refers to a child’s emotional skillset. Emotional intelligence is important for internal things like self-regulation, understanding how you are feeling and how to deal with your own emotions, but it is also important for social skills. Throughout our educational lives, there should be a push to focus on EQ just as much, if not more than academic abilities.

Social-emotional skills are not innate, they are learned, and so it is our job as parents and teachers to help children develop their EQ’s in order to become confident, socially competent, empathetic, and emotionally healthy human beings.

For the full article on IQ and EQ go here: IQ vs EQ


Making Recycled Paper

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As many of you may know, Earth Day is coming up this month, so in the spirit of the occasion we are sharing this super cool activity for learning about how to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Materials Needed:

  • Mesh or sheer fabric
  • Craft sticks
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard egg carton
  • Rolling pin


  1. Note: all instructions below are taken exactly from the source site in order to preserve the directions of the task.
  2. Tear the egg carton into tiny pieces. You will want about 2-3 cups of paper pieces. Place the pieces in a blender.
  3. Boil about 2 cups of hot water.
  4. While the water is heating, assemble your craft stick frame. We used eight sticks to make a large square and glued it with hot glue. Then glue the frame to our sheer fabric and cut off the excess fabric.
  5. Once the water is boiling, pour it into the blender with the paper pieces. The hot water will start to turn the carton into pulp. Place the lid on the blender and blend the paper pieces and water until it creates a soup-like mixture.
  6. Place the frame over a large bowl. Pour the paper pulp over the frame and use the rolling pin to spread the pulp evenly across the frame. Use a second piece of fabric to keep the paper from sticking to the rolling pin. Let the water drip out of the frame. If your frame bends, place it on a glass baking pan turned upside down. This will allow the water to strain out and down the sides of the pan without allowing the paper to sit in water, which will prevent it from drying.
  7. Allow the paper to dry completely, which may take 24 or more hours. When your paper is dry, slowly peel it off the frame!



Keeping Your Spring Break Active

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Spring Break is a great chance to spend time together as a family, but often it also ends up being a time to knock of some of the big things on your to do list. And it can be difficult to think of activities to do with the kids every day, if you don’t have them in a camp or daycare program. So today we are sharing this awesome article from fraser health about 7 things you can do on your spring break to keep kids active and engaged instead of watching TV and telling you they are bored again.

Check out the article here: Fraser Health 7 Spring Break Things To Do


Water Cycle in a Jar

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Today we are sharing a super cool activity from some of the staff at our centre. They did this activity in the past week with preschoolers and the students loved it!

Goals of the Activity: Learn about learn, understand how regular events in the environment occur, encourage exploration and curiosity.

Materials Needed:

  1. Water
  2. Shaving cream
  3. Popcorn
  4. Food colouring (preferably blue)
  5. Clear container (like a jar)


  1. If you are in a group, have children gather around a table.
  2. Fill container with water
  3. Put container of water on table.
  4. Discuss rainy weather as it pertains to relevant topics (ex. Spring weather, outdoors, etc.)
  5. Put popcorn in the water. Discuss how it represents clounds and how the clouds get too heavy with water.
  6. Put food colouring in for rain. Discuss condensation and precipitation processes.
  7. Have children go to eye level with bottle.
  8. Make sure children observe and ask questions.

Source: Staff at Parkland Players adapted this activity from a variety of sources. For more details regarding this activity, feel free to contact us.