Children can build anything they want with blocks and use their imagination. Easier than it sounds, creating centers only requires gathering items and setting them out.
An important success tip in planning preschool playgroup meetings is to provide unstructured activities so that children can learn through creative play and develop prosocial skills. But instead of giving out a coloring sheet with a truck on it as an art activity, parents can provide a more age appropriate play activity by covering a child sized table in plastic then butcher block paper. When parents add simple kitchen props such as tongs, plastic knives, a meatball former, a plastic garlic press and a rolling pin, young children will stay busy simply manipulating dough into different shapes.
Parents usually want their child to be part of a playgroup because of the social interaction opportunities offered by being around other children. If parents dont have plastic dishes, paper plates, plastic spoons and plastic bowls work well as emergency props.
Examples of Structured Activities:
Coloring on coloring sheetsAssembling craftsPutting on a play with rehearsed linesPlaying games with rulesExamples of Unstructured/Creative Play Activities:Coloring with crayons or sidewalk chalk on plain paper (white or solid colored)Exploring with a variety of art supplies with no end product in mindPretend play using a variety of dress up clothes and props with no scriptPlaying music and providing different props for children to use to move or danceSuccess Tips for Planning Unstructured Play Activities
When planning preschool playgroup activities, adults can save time and improve social interactions among children by providing age appropriate materials for several unstructured play activities. Setting out paper in different shapes, glue sticks, paper plates, markers and chenille stems to let children create something that is their own idea is an example of a more unstructured activity.
A play kitchen or even a table and chairs with play dishes and food will spark plenty of unstructured creative play for preschoolers. Assembling a craft that results in all children following the same steps to create a paper plate cat face is a structured activity. Dramatic play props of any kind are of high interest to preschoolers and pretend play develops children’s social skills.
Squishing play dough is another unstructured play activity that preschoolers love. Structured play activities have rules, guidelines or exact steps to follow. A preschooler’s brain needs an abundance of creative play opportunities.
What are Unstructured Play Activities?
Preschoolers learn best through unstructured play as opposed to structured play. If children seem tired of blocks after a few playgroup meetings, adults can perk up block play easily by setting a box of cars or a box of animal figures next to the blocks.
Outdoor Summer Preschool Playgroup Ideas
When play materials and activities are suited to the age level of children, the stress level of children will be lower, fewer arguments will occur and social interactions will be enhanced. Theres no need to plan a craft or a game. Unstructured play activities allow children to explore in creative play with materials and see what happens. But preschool playgroup meetings can be counter-productive and stressful to children if the setting and play activities are too structured and not age appropriate. Whether meeting inside or outside, parents should plan a preschool playgroup meeting by creating centers, the same way that preschool classrooms are set up, with materials and toys for children to do plenty of creative play and safe exploring. When parents follow this keep it unstructured success tip, meetings will be more relaxing for both children and adults.
How Age Appropriate Activities Affect Social Interactions
Many parents arent aware of child development recommendations and may think, if my child can do this, it must be okay. Certainly children may be able to accomplish tasks that arent exactly on their age level, but inappropriate activities are more likely to cause stress for children and have a negative impact on social interactions with other children.
Wooden blocks are always a hit with young children. Preschoolers will spend much more time running toy trucks through the paint mud puddles and observing the paint tracks on the paper than they would coloring a picture of a truck.
Best Bets for Unstructured Play for Preschool Playgroup Meetings
A box or laundry basket filled with dress up clothes, hats, boots, shoes, capes and wands will keep preschool meetings full of unstructured imaginary and creative play for a long time. If parents want to plan a preschool playgroup meeting around a theme, such as trucks or water play, it works to set up centers too. Children will be less stressed, use more creativity and practice more social interaction skills when parents set up age appropriate centers full of exploration opportunities.. By dabbing a few puddles of paint on the paper and adding a bucket of small trucks on the table, parents can create a more unstructured art activity. Preschool aged children will stay engaged longer in unstructured play activities that are suited to their developmental age level because their social and educational needs are being met
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