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Play Schemas by Riley Mahmood

Are you sick of asking your child to stop throwing, smacking, and being rough with their toys? It’s so frustrating when kids can’t be gentle and careful with what we give them. Sometimes the urge to smash is all too real. If you can’t stop them, don’t fight it- embrace it, and find a way to support their developmental periods through play. 

If you struggle to understand how exactly to go about doing that, you are not alone. Thankfully, there is a helpful way to compartmentalize this information: play schemas. Play schemas are an organized way of explaining the repeated patterns and ideas that children learn and develop through exploring different types of play. Here are some important play schemas and product pairings that will encourage exploration of these developmental skills.

Trajectory

The Trajectory play schema can be explored through allowing your child to throw items and see cause and effect of their movement. In order to do so, you would want something soft or pliable. Earth Grown Kids Play Dough would be a perfect option for littles to shape and move dough, and even have a play dough snowball fight! The dough is so soft, you don’t have to be as concerned about injury or breaking anything. And if the shape they make doesn’t simulate what they want when throwing, they can always make a new one! 

Connecting 

When a child is practicing the connecting schema, they are piecing together sections in order to make a larger whole. The ability to connect pieces together helps fulfill a developmental need in children. Papoose Puzzles would support this play schema for interlocking pieces, and the Earth Grown Kids Play Dough is another great option. Since it is so pliable, it can form to whatever shapes that kids want to connect. The Alphabet Block Set from ooiooi is another great choice that allows children to interlock pieces. 

Rotation

Rotation is exactly what it sounds like. Spinning wheels, tops, and rolling things across the room are not just fun for kids, but adults too! The bigger the wheel, the easier you can focus on the way it rotates. Sit with them and pay special attention to the way the designs on spin tops spin around, and ask them what they see! Another great way to encourage rotation exploration is through vehicles like the Plan Toys Wautomobile which even have a pattern on the wheels that moves as it rotates, or the Plan Toys Snail which helps them to rotate and spin the snail around the room via a string. The Plan Toys Dump Truck is another great option because it can help combine multiple schemas through one play action. 

Positioning

When children are practicing their positioning, they can line things up, organize small world play and cityscapes, and have fun with wooden animals as well. You can line up pretty much everything, and kids definitely do! The Once Kids sets allows kids to set up a small city however they’d like. If they want to put buildings next to trees or on top of a pond, they can. The only limit is their imagination. These Skandico Castle Blocks can help them build and position the different pieces in whichever way they would like. 

Enveloping

For the enveloping schema, kids are trying to see what happens when they envelop or hide an object. This would be a great skill to practice with the Skandico Fruit Stackers, as you can hide things and create barriers, so if they have little toy animals they want to conceal, this is the perfect way to do it. The Skandico Peg People in Cars are great too, since the peg people nest inside of the vehicle. 

Orientation

Orientation can involve children getting physical, hanging from things or testing out gravity. The Montessori Infant Pull Up Bar would be a great way for your child to test out the desire to test movement and practice pulling themselves up. Children are curious and adventurous and this gives them a safe way to explore gross motor skills as well. 

Enclosing

Enclosing is similar to enveloping, but in a different space. The emphasis is on surrounding something instead of making it disappear. A really fun way to support this schema is through arts and crafts. If you get the OOLY watercolor pad and some of their paint pods, your child has the ability to create their own masterpiece, then conceal with more paint or obliterate it completely. The fun is theirs!

Now that you understand more about play schemas, do you notice your child engaging in any of these schemas to try and get a better grasp of some developmental skills? Are you able to be mindful with their activities and understanding what they are trying to work on? By familiarizing yourself with play schemas, you’re helping to solve the mystery and support your child through the best play possible. 

by Riley Mahmood 

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