Imagination and exploration through interaction with characters.
Children’s imagination is active from an early age. Imaginative play has links to what psychologists call ‘social pretend play’. Young children pretend or imagine that, for instance a wooden block is a cake and they carefully ‘cut’ it. A large proportion of pretend play tends to be social. Imaginative play begins when infants play and pretend with adults. As young children develop they begin to try to engage other children in social pretend play. Young children in nursery benefit from engaging in imaginative play. It helps them to begin to understand that other children think differently to them and have different ideas. Children can engage in imaginative play with other children where they have agreed on a story or scenario that they want to act out. Young children playing with toys use their imagination to invent scenarios and play out the consequences. They can use characters to explore scenarios and act out scripts such as going shopping or bedtime. Imaginative and social pretend play is beneficial for children as it allows them to explore different ways of viewing the world. Children who use their imagination when playing with other children are increasing their social competence and their understanding of other people. In a study where we observed children playing in a nursery we found that young children engaged in imaginative play, often using the toys in unexpected ways. Children’s imagination benefits from the opportunity to play with all types of toys.
Introduces the alphabet, letter sounds and vocabulary.
Babies start to babble at an early age and this can be seen as the first signs of language. They are predisposed to pick up the sounds of the language that they hear around them. Adults can facilitate babies’ language development by playing with them, focussing on particular toys, reading books and naming everyday objects. The more babies are exposed to language the faster they will begin to pick up it up. There are social skills involved in language acquisition such as realising that it is necessary to wait until the other person has finished speaking. Babies begin to learn about conversational turn-taking from an early age; if a baby is babbling the adult waits for a pause and then talks to the baby. Babies learn to take turns even before they are using words. Social interaction is important for language development and turn-taking games are a fun and educational way for babies and young children to learn. Young children also need to practice their language skills. Toys that name alphabet letters and everyday words satisfy young children’s need for repetition and rehearsal when practicing words and sounds. For instance, young children can press a button repetitively to hear the same sound or word again. Babies and children learn a lot through repetition and pick up words rapidly in this way. Once children begin to read their vocabulary expands enormously.
Enhances musical skills with music and sound activities.
Babies are sensitive to sound patterns early in life and respond emotionally to voices. Even before they are born infants detect and monitor sound to a certain extent. During the second half of their first year babies are particularly sensitive to differences in beat and rhythm. Music is a complex form of auditory stimulation that is linked to human movement. Infants are drawn to music and are very good at being able to discern different musical structures. In a recent survey we found that parents often choose a particular traditional nursery, for example twinkle, twinkle little star, because of the gestures linked to the song. Babies love music and nursery rhymes that have plenty of repetition and gestures. Children also love to experiment with music. Toys that allow children to create their own tunes facilitate learning. Children can learn about a wide variety of sounds and tempo. They can also learn about the sounds of different musical instruments through pressing keys on a musical toy. Children who grow up in the Western world tend to be exposed to the typical even-beat pattern of Western music. There is a link between learning, singing and rhythm that is related to the type of culture that children grow up in. Musical creativity can be nurtured through the infant’s and child’s exposure to music, musical toys and instruments.
Develops imagination and encourages cooperation, listening and turn-taking.
Role play is a form of social pretend play. Children benefit from social pretend play because it can help them to revisit events that may have provoked some anxiety in the past. For instance, after a visit to the doctors children often play at being doctors and nurses. Role play not only reflects but also contributes to children’s cognitive and social skills. Playing out an experience enables children to understand more about it. Research has shown that during social pretend play, young children’s interactions last longer, are more engaging and also more cooperative. Nursery school children who spend more time in socio-dramatic role playing are also perceived as more socially competent by their teachers. Role play enhances many cognitive abilities such as sustained attention, memory, language and literacy skills, and helps children to understand and manage their emotions. Role play is generally a social activity but some children can engage in solitary role play where they create imaginary companions. Games where children can create worlds and populate them with their own characters can be beneficial.
Choose from seven charms in the heart-shaped dish and place them on the three magic hearts to hear colours, objects and phrases in English and French
Press the blue heart button to hear quiz questions, then place the charms on the unicorn to answer them.
Horn lights up and changes colour
In music mode, press the blue heart button to choose a melody, then place the charms on her to add sound effects and create your own special song.
Squeeze the magical unicorn’s tail to see her beautiful wings flap and hear whimsical phrases and sound effects that encourage imaginative play.
Best for ages:
Place the seven charms on Magical Lights Unicorn's magic hearts to see her horn light up and hear colours, objects and phrases in English or French
Go on an enchanted adventure with Magical Lights Unicorn. Place the seven charms on any of the three magic hearts to see her horn light up and hear colours, objects and phrases in English or French. Use the charms to answer quiz questions or add sound effects to create your own special song. Squeeze the unicorn’s tail to see her beautiful wings flap and hear whimsical phrases and sound effects that encourage imaginative play. Her majestic hooves feature wheels so you can push her as you head off on your next adventure!