The Value of Play

Every night, dear husband would ask DA what he did for the day.

DA would happily reply, “I played!”

This would always lead to the daddy scratching his head, doubting whether the kids were actually learning anything as the days go by.

While play may sound trivial and unimportant, there is more to it than meets the eye.


Everyone seems to know how to play, even babies do. Give them a set of cups and they’ll start tinkering with it, essentially “playing” with it. It’s the way they learn and develop essential lifelong skills. Playing, whether indoors or outdoors, single or in groups, benefits young children by fostering imagination and creativity, problem solving skills, fine and gross motor development, and even social and language skills.

Our Play at Home

These are some of the plays that we do at home. Most of them cost nothing and yet they allow us to reap a good deal of benefits, both for our young kids and for us, as adults.

Phone Conversations One time, just for fun, I held up a mobile phone, pretended to dial, and started an imaginary conversation. DA picked the habit up and has since loved making imaginary conversations as well. We started with “talking” to people he knows, like relatives, so that he has concrete things to say, like “when are you coming to visit?”, “what are you doing today?” As he was introduced to superheroes, Spiderman, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk became his phone buddies. What’s really funny is that he makes realistic expressions and would even laugh as if his phone pal had actually said something funny. Dear husband calls us crazy whenever he hears us doing this but I say we’re just being creative and imaginative. 🙂 

Play - Phone Converations

Stacking Cups These are great for babies in developing their fine motor skills as they learn how to pick up the cups. They also help in developing the child’s problem solving skills as he learns how to put them on top of each other. It’s so cute to watch their chubby hands manipulate the cups, willing them to fit. They might get frustrated though if they cannot do it so try to add a little help to keep them going.

Play - Stacking Cups

Ktichen Fun While I cook in the kitchen, I let the little one do his own play there as well. He’s free to open up the cabinets and drawers and play with the things inside (no sharp utensils, of course). One of the things he came up with is this arrangement of mugs and dishes. I was so amused by it that I just had to take a picture. It’s free play and yet I can see the organization skills already. 

Play - Kitchen Fun

Making a tower of cups is also our play in the kitchen. I showed him where to get the cups and how to stack them up. From time to time, he’d open up the cabinets and get them out to try a balancing act with the cups.

Play - Kitchen Fun

Running Around Every kid’s favourite! 🙂 This physical activity beats being glued to the iPad or TV anytime.

Play - Running Around

Jenga From time to time, we’d do play as a whole family. This is a good game that can include even the toddlers. While they may still need help, they can already take part in deciding how to keep the stack from falling. They also have a roaring good time when the whole thing falls down!

Play - Jenga

Playdates We haven’t been to a lot of playdates but those that we’ve been to have been fun. Playing with same-aged kids develops social and language skills among them. We’d sometimes listen to the kids’ conversation and get bewildered but they seem to understand each other well. Issues of sharing (more like non-sharing) of toys would sometimes arise though but we took it as a good teaching opportunity. 

Play - Playdates

How about you? What sort of play do you do at home with your kids? 🙂


P.S. This is my volunteer work for Unilab Foundation’s project of building a #healthierPH through Play It Forward. 🙂 Read about it here.

27 thoughts on “The Value of Play

  1. Hurrah for play! You have a cutie toddler! 🙂

    My son is 3, he creates his own make-believe characters he “talks” to on the phone. One of them is a car mechanic he named, “Bom.” 😀 At the moment he enjoys building cars, houses, and spaceships using blocks. We also do pretend plays 🙂

  2. my daughter just love to play”mommy and baby” she’s the mommy and I’m her baby. She would feed me, take care of a sick baby me and say words of advice and comfort, those are the things I normally do to them. I love to watch her acting my role to her coz I can see that she absorbs everything I do for her and to her siblings.

  3. My youngest loves to play arranging things and with patterns pa. We have mega blocks and aside from building airplanes, he arranges it to form a straight line. Even his toy cars and flash cards. Sayang was not able to capture it.. next time 🙂

  4. whenever i spend time with my little boy, we usually scatter his toys all around us.. i am still trying to work on making him not put anything he picks in his mouth… 😀

    1. Ahh! That’s the problem with my second one because everything is like a teether for him! Someone has to really watch over him while playing. They’ll get over it though. Slowly, my son’s starting to actually play with the stuffs and not put them into his mouth.

  5. A lot of “conventional” people (mostly relatives) frown on the way we let our kids be themselves – run a lot, climb anything and everything…you know..just be boys. It’s good that I’ve read a book on it..on the importance of play and actually messing up in their development- especially for boys.

    How interesting to see that you let your baby play with stuff from the cupboard. That’s the only few things off limits here because I’m afraid I won’t get to them on time when something breaks. But I would’ve loved letting them do that too. 🙂

    1. I really hate it when conventional people do that. Just let them do their thing, test their limits. What’s the title of the book that you read? I’ll have to look it up. 🙂 TIA 🙂

      I’ve since taught the toddler about being careful with breakables. So far, nothing broken yet. Whew! Hehe.

  6. Naku, ang cute. My toddler does everything in this list, too, and he loooves running around. Also loves “biking” and “driving” his cars. They’re so full of energy and I agree that play is really beneficial!

  7. Oh, to be a kid again! Walang iniisip, play lang ng play! 🙂 I also keep empty cups, boxes and tissue rolls. Kids like those things. Sometimes, they like it even more than the expensive toys we buy for them.

  8. nice post! except for the Jenga and the free access to breakable plates, the stuff you listed are also favorites of my kids! how old is your toddler, and when and how did you get him to be careful with fragile objects? impressive!

    for phone play, we don’t let them hold our phones so everything else becomes a phone. the other day one of my twins found a small mat of medicine capsules, put it against her ear, and walked away from us saying “‘lo?” parang busy talaga na she had to step out to take an important call, ha ha! then she started jabbing her finger at the capsules! the way kids’ imaginations work are really fascinating 🙂

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