Did you know that with guided play, children learn to plan, communicate, and think critically? This is playful learning, the way that children learn best. And one of my favorite ways to begin guided play is with picture books.
In guided play, the child is in charge of the direction of play but the adult supports with props, vocabulary, and new ideas.
Green Toys, known for its line of simple, iconic playthings that foster open-ended, non-digital play, recently launched 3 new hardcover storybooks which can be used in guided play with their toys.
Train Off the Rails with Kody and Dot
Boats Built for Speed with Davey and Pearl
Mixed-Up Trucks with Baxter, Rosie and Gus
The storybooks share the Green Toys world by establishing narratives around the popular Green Toys Construction Trucks, Sport Boats, and Train. Kids will see their favorite toys and characters embark on exciting adventures throughout the pages of each book, and can re-create the story with their toys.
There’s a term in education called scaffolding from a researcher named Vygotsky. Hopefully it gives you the metaphor of starting from the ground and building something towards the sky, like a scaffold does. Like a scaffold supports the building, we then guide and support our child in what he or she could learn next.
When we guide a child’s play, we scaffold our child’s knowledge of a topic. This knowledge could include information, vocabulary, or concepts.
Guided Play with Picture Books
Start your guided play time with a picture book. First read the picture book. As you do, be sure you stop frequently and talk about what’s happening in the story. Also share what you think might happen next.
Give the child a toy that relates to the picture book subject whether it be trains or flowers or boats.
Start the play time.
Watch what happens as your child plays. When you feel like the play is lulling, ask if the child if she wants to add props that correspond to the picture book story — water for the boat, boxes for the train, and so forth. This will continue the play and, more importantly, scaffold it meaningfully.
Remember, let the child direct the play. You’re only the guide.
As you play with your child, consider what learning you can contribute to during the play.
Ask leading questions: “I wonder if your guy wants to add a motor to his boat so it’s faster.”“What about . . . something on the train tracks?”“What do you think your boat is carrying?” “What if the train stops working?”
Share new words: “Did you know that the person who fixes the engine is called a mechanic?” “Who on the train is the conductor? Who is the engineer?”
Talk about concepts such as over and under, near and far, or heavy and light
Ask questions or make that relate back to the storybook’s story: “Remember in the book how the people tried a lot of ways to get the boxes across the water? Want to do that, too?”
Guided, dramatic play is so beneficial to kids. It develops language skills, emotional intelligence, and abstract thinking. (Plus, it’s lovely bonding time with YOU!)
The Green Toys Storybooks are all printed in the United States using 100% recycled paper and using soy ink. Bundle with the toy for a great gift this holiday!
For a limited time, save 20% on your order; use promo code READPLAY, valid only at greentoys.com.
“Helping Kids Learn Through Play,” Parents Are Important
“Guided Play: Principles and Practices,” Association for Psychological Science
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!