559 Beliefs

5 Types of Play - Physical Play

As I mentioned in my earlier post Why 559?, each of the numbers in our name represents part of the philosophy of 559 (namely, our belief that good toys should be open-ended and developmentally nurturing). This week we'll talk about that first "5," the 5 Types of Play, and the open-endedness of a good toy.

Physical Play

As I write this, I'm watching my 10-month old son climb up and down a mountain of pillows. It's a mountain dotted with some familiar, and some new, objects to find. He's crawling, and working hard to get over some particularly fluffy bits of the 'mountain.' He's spotting the objects, picking them up, rolling on his back to play with them, then shaking and mouthing them. He's watching balls get away from him, and then he's chasing after them. He's engaging in physical play.

Physical play includes everything gross and fine motor related, from an infant reaching for a toy for the first time, to building block towers, to swings and slides, to colouring, to the bike ride that you went on last weekend. It's learning, practicing, integrating and mastering all of the muscle movements that a wee (or big) body is capable of doing, and as an infant or toddler (and up!), it's key to creating the neural connections that will lead to, well, everything physical: walking, writing, dancing, and even climbing mountains (whether they be made of pillows or not).

So let your little one explore! Let them feel different textures, practice holding different objects, pass them back and forth between tiny hands, and then let them bang those things together. Give them beautiful things to reach for, fun things to shake, and interesting things to manipulate. As long as it's safe, really anything will do (in addition to wooden toys, we're big fans of kitchen objects in this house). Let your child play, and watch the magic happen!

Some 559 Products that can be used in Physical Play:

Baby Blocks

Saucer Trio

Orbit Rattle

Tabby Square

Unshape Autos

... and pretty much everything else!

Play is Easy (and Very Important)

No matter how science-y things may get on the 559 blog, there are two things that I hope you come away with:

1. Play is Important

2. Play is Easy

The Importance of Play

While I could write an entire blog series about the importance of play (and hey, I just might), I'll try to sum it up in one post (though it may be a long one). Unfortunately, play gets a bad rap from adults. Things are "just play" or kids are merely "playing around." But for kids, play is vital.

Play is how children explore, understand and begin to make their own mark on the world. For infants, play is how they discover how their bodies work, how physics works, and how interacting with other people works. This discovery continues through childhood, and play is used by children to gain understanding of their entire worlds. Playing house allows understanding of how families and relationships work, finger painting allows for self expression and choice, and tag and go-fish start to form the basis for sharing, justice and healthy social interactions. Needless to say, play, for infants and children, is very serious business.

Play is Easy

As a business, we would love for you to buy our toys. We believe in them, and we hope that you do too. We also believe that play should be universal, and that quality play should never be out-of-reach for any family to provide. Because of this, we donate funds and toys to families in need, but we also want to let you know that nothing in particular is necessary for quality play to happen for your children.

The most important toy or tool that a child can have in play is an attentive adult. Someone to play finger games, to hear the voice of, to make silly faces, to sing, to tickle, to play patty-cake with. The rest is just icing on a perfectly wonderful cake. And the icing does not need to be fancy (though really, we hope you check out our toys).

An example of the ease of good play: One of my son's favourite toys at the moment is a large pink plastic bag clip, bought in a bulk pack from a certain international build-it-yourself furniture chain. He can feel the different surfaces, watch as it bends between his hands, mouth it, bang it and throw it. He's engaging in physical play, developing his physical and cognitive abilities, and is becoming spatially and kinesthetically smart. When we talk about what he's doing as he plays, his language development and linguistic intelligence are nurtured. When we help him bang a rhythm with it, his musicality develops. Later on, we can play passing games with it (games with rules, social development and interpersonal intelligence) or he can sort the whole bag of clips into colours or sizes (cognitive development and logical intelligence). After that, he can use it with some ribbon or string to create something (constructive play). Bag clips are not fancy toys, but they can have endless possibilities in the play of a child. (He also loves his Tabby Square, but I'll try to limit the amount of self-promotion in this post).

So yes, we are a business. We make toys. We hope people buy our toys. But our toys are not a necessary panacea for the development of your child. We also know a fair bit about toys, and the science behind them, and the science regarding play. But play does not need to be complicated.

Above all, we believe that children are important, and that children deserve good play. And that play really is really easy.

Why 559?

Coming up with a name for a toy company proved to be incredibly difficult for me, especially considering that toy development has been on my mind for over a decade (toys themselves have been on my mind a lot longer). I knew that we wanted to avoid something "cutesy," as over-cute-ification was one of the largest hurdles in finding toys for my own baby. On the other end of the spectrum, we knew we wanted to avoid sounding too clinical - we make toys, not medical supplies! We knew we wanted something that represented our products - simple, solid and interesting, as well as some of the thinking behind our development process - that toys should ignite development, and be versatile. So, why 559?

5 Types of Play

5 Developmental Areas

9 Different Intelligences

"Play" can take on a lot of different forms, but they can all be summed up into one of 5 types. "Development" is a multi-faceted and complex process, but early learning can be divided into 5 areas. And while "intelligence" is typically thought of in terms of test scores or school grades, there are actually as many as 9 different, but equally important, intelligences that one can excel in - there are a lot of ways that our kids can be 'smart.'

There is overlap between the three concepts, and we'll be the first to tell you that not every area is necessarily addressed by a 559 product. For instance, there are a lot of incredible toys and tools out there for developing language skills, and while our products can certainly be used in language play, and to develop literacy skills and to nurture word smarts, it's not the focused intent of our current toys. But making toys that can be used in a variety of ways, and that will help your child develop in a variety of ways... that's important to us. Eventually, we'll even have a blog post for each product that will profile how it fits into the 559 philosophy.

5 types of play. 5 areas of development. 9 different intelligences. 559 Toys. Delightful. Durable. Designed for Growth.

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And, in case you don't want to wait for the individual blog posts about the 5 types of play, 5 areas of development, or 9 different intelligences... here they are:

5 Types of Play

Physical / Constructive / Fantasy / Social / Games with Rules

5 Developmental Areas

Physical / Cognitive / Language / Emotional / Social

9 Different Intelligences

Linguistic / Logical / Musical / Spatial / Kinesthetic / Intrapersonal / Interpersonal / Naturalist / Spiritual