It is a way our youngest children can explore the world that surrounds them, to find meaning in it and to feel some control over it. Heuristic play is typically suited to more mobile babies approaching or in their second year (10-20mths). It allows the toddler to experiment with objects and the environment.
It is a collection of bits and pieces of different sizes, metal tins, plastic bottles, curlers and wooden curtain rings any materials that might be found around the house or in the recycle bin! The important thing to remember is that they are items which are open ended and not ‘toys’
Why is it important?
When a baby becomes mobile and grows into a toddler, they become interested in what their body can do, and also what their body can do with objects. If babies had language, they would be asking, ‘’what can I do with this object?’’ Heuristic play allows young children to develop key skills for future learning and development. It is the…
basis of all future problem solving, scientific and mathematical learning.
chance for a toddler to develop an interest in cause-and-effect, ie the relationship between objects and the effect of his action upon objects.
opportunity for physical skills to be practiced and developed
promotion of independence and thinking skills
chance for toddlers to develop concentration skills
How to set up Heuristic play?
Sit close by your little one to provide reassurance, safety and to share in your toddlers exploration
Find a quiet time to allow your child to explore
Provide lots of materials to ensure plenty of choice
Help your child investigate by moving objects around but be careful not to take over and direct their play.
If your child disrupts another or starts throwing objects why not intervene with suggestions and distractions, your attention and interest in what they are doing is key.
What items can be used for Heuristic play?
Small bags and boxes
Cardboard cylinders of all sizes and lengths
Off cuts of sanded wood
Metal jar lids
Balls of different textures and sizes
Old tissue boxes for posting
Yoghurt pots and wide necked bottles
Mug trees and kitchen roll holders
Tins of all shapes and sizes
Lengths of chain/ bunches of keys
Safety – always undertake a risk assessment, supervise and check for choking hazards.
For more information about how heuristic play can help your child's development click the link on the sidebar
Over time build up a collection of safe real life items to be used for heuristic baskets. Offering your child a selection of items in a basket rather than sharing lots of items will avoid your child feeling overwhelmed. Then mixing the items up over time can add variety. By sitting with your child while they explore you can talk about the items they are discovering.
More information about how heuristic play can help your child's development.