Explain the principles of heuristic play

Qualification: Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.1: Understand the value of play in Early Years
Learning outcome: 4 Understand different types of play for all children
Assessment criteria: 4.2 Explain the principles of heuristic play

  • Heauristic play is an approach that involves babies and toddlers being given opportunities to handle real-world objects rather than toys
  • 60-80 objects are offered to children in a ‘treasure basket’ and they are left to freely explore and play with these items with their hands and mouths whilst adults observe
  • Objects could include pans, wooden spoons, feather dusters, empty milk bottles, silk scarves etc. – there should be variety of propeties throughout the objects (e.g. shape, texture, weight etc.)
  • This provides increased sensory stimulation for a child (many toys are often made of plastic and have the same texture)
  • It also helps children to be creative and express themselves (e.g. a spoon and a pan can be used as a drum etc.)
  • It promotes choice as the child is free to use the objects in any way they wish
  • It can also build a child’s confidence and concentration

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