What Is Constructive Play?

By Sara Ipatenco
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Constructive play is simply defined as children using objects, such as toys, to build something no one has seen before. Constructive play encourages children to use their imaginations and creativity to learn new things and make sense of the world around them. Constructive play starts during the toddler years as children begin imitating their parents and peers and continues throughout childhood and can involve any number of toys or materials.

Creation Toys

Blocks are a classic children's toy and also a good material for constructive play. A baby or toddler might use blocks to make towers he later knocks down while older children might make houses, roads and other structures. Building with Legos, a popular children's toy, is another example of using blocks for constructive play. Other creation toys, such as pop beads, magnetic tiles, marble mazes, foam shapes and toy tool kits are additional examples of items children use for constructive play.

Art Supplies for Play

Arts and crafts materials are a perfect medium for constructive play because children can construct new things in numerous ways. In addition to standard art supplies, such as paper, scissors and glue, other items, such as beads, buttons, sequins, straws, paper punches and ribbon, can be used to make a variety of items. For example, a child might use paper and scissors to make food to play restaurant, or she might cut lengths of ribbon to make headbands for her doll. Children can turn a stack of blank paper into pretend mail, airline tickets or homework assignments when playing school. Modeling clay or dough is another art supply useful for constructive play.

Outdoor Materials

Children are quite creative when it comes to playing with nonstandard objects. The great outdoors provides a wealth of materials for constructive play. Playing in the sandbox gives children a chance to make a birthday cake complete with candles made with small sticks. Mud can become pies or pancakes. A child might take a pile of sticks and lay them on top of each other in such a way to make a log cabin or construct a magical fairy home with an old clay pot and a variety of leaves and flowers. A water table is another toy useful for constructive play.

Non-Toy Play

Children adore cardboard boxes, and they are an inexpensive item for constructive play. With a handful of crayons or markers, a cardboard box can become a house, fort, bakery or lemonade stand. Kitchen chairs and an old sheet are additional materials good for constructive play because they can easily become a fort or camping tent. Recyclable materials, such as clean plastic milk jugs, oatmeal canisters or cereal boxes, can be turned into homes for dolls, dinosaurs or army men. Bottle caps, kitchen sponges and towels are additional items children can use for constructive play.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.