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All parents want their children to succeed in life. And play zones are not only needed, but is important for promoting healthy child development.

The current trend towards stuffing your child’s free time full of lessons is losing favor, thanks to studies that show that unstructured play is crucial to your child’s development. What you may not know is that there are 16 different types of play, all of which benefit your child’s development and learning process in different ways.

Customize your house or educational environment to make sure your children can indulge in all of these styles of play with these tips for creating special play zones.

Imagination space

A play space geared towards stimulating your child’s imagination is crucial, especially as children grow older and lean more towards complex and play.

You might want to include:
  • Dolls or action figures, which let children play out social scenarios and conflicts in a safe space that they control
  • Building toys such as blocks or construction bricks, which let your child customize the play environment easily and quickly
  • Model cars with tracks that your child can build and set up
  • A kitchen or work area with child-size models of grown-up objects, so your child can engage in imitative play of the adults around them
  • Audiobooks your child can listen to while they play, instead of videos which encourage passive absorption and the need to keep eyes glued to the screen
  • Noisemakers and musical objects so your child can make their own music

It’s easy to organize this area. Try storing different kinds of toys in labeled plastic tubs. This makes clean-up relatively easy for your child, and encourages reading and categorization as they sort through and pick up their toys.

Messy Space

It’s important to have a space where kids can get messy. Messy play doesn’t have to mean getting markers or mud all over everything, despite the name! This kind of play includes creative crafting as well as pure sensory fun. Having an area where kids can roll their sleeves up and dig in encourages tactile play and hand-eye coordination, as well as problem-solving skills when kids learn to create arts and crafts.

Include sensory toys and craft supplies like:
  • Lots of paper for writing and drawing, as well as colored construction paper. Origami paper is also great for encouraging hand-eye coordination and three-dimensional visualization skills
  • Colored pencils, markers, tempera or oil paint, and other drawing supplies
  • Scissors and other office supplies (age-appropriate, of course)
  • Air-dry modeling clay or polymer clay for sculpting and squishing
  • Glitter, stickers, buttons, beads, feathers, felt, and anything else that can be used to embellish a child’s art
  • Natural items like branches or rocks to decorate
  • Jelly beads, which grow in water for a pleasing sensation
  • Kinetic sand

As you organize the messy space, remember to keep selected objects out and ready for play so your child is always invited to create. Make sure you have plenty of surfaces for children to create on. Don’t stress if they don’t pick up after themselves as much in here; children may want to keep projects out so they can pick up where they left off last time.

The messy room also makes it easy to contain the grimier materials you have for play.

Quiet Space

The quiet space is a place children can go to calm down or just be in a soft, welcoming area. This is a room where your child can nap, hide, read, cuddle, talk, or just daydream.

Add touches to the quiet space like:
  • Soft blankets and pillows to cuddle in or to make a pillow fort with (pillow fights are ideal for this space, being a relatively quiet and soft way to blow off steam)
  • A tent or fort a small child can hide or sequester themselves in if they need to get away from the noise and bustle of the big, busy adult world
  • Plenty of books to read, including a dedicated space to store library books
  • A dress-up box or basket and mirror. The dress-up clothes may be worn where it suits your family, but the quiet space is a perfect place to change into a costume or just enjoy experimenting with your look
  • Low, warm lights such as nightlights or fairy lights to keep the ambiance welcoming and cozy

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