Thursday, 28 October 2010

Fostering Independent Play

Well day 1 of the new toy / activity set up (see previous post) did not go too well. I was quite ill with a cold so things were set up on the fly and I soon ran out of enthusiasm for play (in fact all I wanted to do was to lie down with a lemsip) so requests for the TV were frequent. It soon became clear that 3 activities were not enough. Pip didn't have much of a choice and needed my constant input for entertainment.

So it was back to the drawing board and more internet searching. I struck gold in finding this blog post on independent play by Belinda Butler who writes Everyday Play. It's full of really useful and practical advice. The tip on rotating toys less frequently was really interesting. It goes against all the other advice I've read that rotating toys is supposed to stimulate interest. But having the same toys available all the time enables a child to develop their play and build "their stories" with them. Poor Pip was having to reinvent the wheel each day with a new set of toys!

Day 2 went much better. Whilst she had gone for a walk with Dad, I set up her toy stations around the living room. We had:
  • baby dolls, push chair, blankets, baby bottle
  • farm animals with animal feed (out of date lentils, mung beans and rice)
  • play dough with items from her kitchen set (plates, knife, fork, rolling pin and cookie cutters)
  • paper and crayons
  • a selection of books and puzzles
  • upstairs we had her cars, garage and blocks in her room
All the toys were left out for the day. I stayed close by, trying not to interfere or dictate play. Whether it was the walk or the extra toys, Pip seemed more content and she was able to entertain herself for short periods at a time. I was much more relaxed too. Maybe there is time for a lemsip after all.
Giving baby some juice
We've been continuing this throughout the week, although I've not set up as many stations, the toys are all accessible and Pip was able to get them out of the cupboard or request things. Already I've noticed how she can play for little longer and her play is more imaginative (e.g. her farm animals now need a little nap after they have been fed dried lentils!) The best result was a 20 minute lie-in this morning when she wanted to play with her blocks and cars when she woke up.


  1. Hi Claire! Love the post! I commented on your question on Structured Play here:
    Just wanted to make sure your question was answered and I did not see an email address. I am following you now! Keep up the great play! ;)

  2. Thanks for comment and advice - I used your approach to reading with Pip today with great success, she was more engaged and enjoyed joining in.