It all starts with play

“All they do is play.” There is intense pressure on academics and learning put on families to get their children ready for college before they even enter Kindergarten. While learning to read, write, and count (to become whatever they want to be) children and their grownups need play.

There was a great conference in Tucson a few years ago for early childhood educators and the theme was: “No play, no learning. Know play, know learning.” Everyone learns better through playing. There has been countless research on this including by the LEGO Foundation. We need to explore everything and then find a way to add it to something we already know.


Babies explore the world every day around them. For babies, everything is an experiment. How does it feel? Smell? Taste? Sound? What happens when I drop this on the floor? Are those my feet? I wonder how they taste.

The best way to help babies learn is to give them time to explore and for you to take your time with them to learn what they’re discovering. Take your time with them and let them find things on their own.


Toddlers are amazing in their ability to be so very independent and then of course not at all. Giving toddlers the space to explore the world around them (nature, anything in the kitchen, your closet or sock drawer) and really taking the time to do it with them will teach both of you so much. Allow toddlers the space to explore on their own time, such as with building blocks or on a walk around the park and that strong “NO!” might not happen as quickly.


Nature walks, simple machines like pulleys, levers and inclined planes, along with building structures of all kinds generally keeps both children and adults really busy. Just how high can we stack those blocks? What will it take to balance it? If there’s an incline will the toy car, marble or bobbin roll really far? Not at all?

If you have a sand box or even access to any kind of soil and water, try making water ways and directing the water with dams and river banks. Figure out how to build bridges together or boats or rafts. What will sink or float? And then of course you can always check out some seeds from the library and plant a small garden.

Not sure what to do? Here are some ideas for how to discover the world together.

The Nitty-gritty Gardening Book

Dirt + Water

Nature Play at Home

A Stick Is An Excellent Thing

Loose Parts

Iggy Peck, Architect

-Daniela, Children's Librarian, Kirk-Bear Canyon Library

Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play!

Play comes so naturally to children and is an essential element to lifelong success. When children play, they are practicing and perfecting early literacy and life skills!

Read more about early literacy and how you can make a difference in your child's life.