What are the main principles of heuristic play?
One of the main principles of heuristic play is that the materials are made out of natural materials such as metal, wood and cloth. These objects are put into a treasure basket and the child is allowed to explore these items by touching, smelling and mouthing them. The adult must be there to supervise to ensure the babies are safe they don’t however direct the play. The babies are given the freedom to play with the objects how they choose, this allows them to reach into the basket and choose for themselves. As the children get older more objects and materials can be put into their heuristic play such as plastic bottles, biscuit tins, and cardboard tubes. Some smaller objects can be added now too such as shells, corks and wooden rings. But again like with the babies, their play must not be directed by an adult but the adult must be there to supervise for the safety of the child.
Benefits of Heuristic play
Heuristic play allows children the freedom to explore properties of different materials and provides opportunities for children to experience size and shape. This helps with children’s fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. Heuristic play gives children the change to use their problem solving skills and the creative materials to put items together and try find a way to make them fit or connect. Older children will talk to their friends about what they have found and may use objects to work together, whereas babies will explore independently and show an adult what they have discovered and will make vocalisations (meaning they will babble and make sounds when children are not ready to make words yet) and when their communication skills have started to develop they will self-talk. Heuristic play gives children the freedom to play independently and make choices on how to use the materials in the basket which gives them a sense of achievement as they have discovered the properties of materials themselves.