- Math- When children are shoppers or cashiers in a pretend grocery store, or when they build in the block area, they use numbers (“It costs three cents”), explore measurement (“My tower is taller than yours”), and develop problem-solving abilities (“Put the big blocks on the bottom so your wall won’t fall down”).
- Science- Children use science concepts like prediction when they experiment at the sand and water table. (“I think two scoops of sand will fill the bucket.”)
- Social Studies- As children take on different roles in the dramatic play area, they practice being parents (“It’s bedtime. Let’s put on your pajamas and we’ll read a book.”) and learn about community helpers, like health care professionals (“Put your arm here so I can take an X-ray”) and postal workers (“I have a package for you in my truck”).
- Language and Literacy- Children develop early reading, vocabulary, and writing skills by telling familiar stories to stuffed animals (“Once upon a time, there were three bears”), using the names of different dinosaurs as they play with figures (“The brontosaurus ate all the leaves on that tree!”), and creating a menu for an imaginary restaurant (“Write pizza first—it starts with P”).
- Social- During play, children learn to interact with others. They talk, collaborate, and pretend together. They might be workers in a veterinarian’s office (“Let’s put the dog on the scale.”), shoppers at a farmers’ market (“Can you help me? I need to buy an apple.”), or workers on a street repair crew (“Can I hold the stop sign while you and Denise fix the potholes?”).
- Emotional- Children are beginning to recognize and talk about emotions. As they play in different scenarios—a birthday party (“I’m really excited about blowing out the candles.”) or a doctor visit (“Will I get a shot? I feel scared.”)—they are able to relax, focus, feel successful, and express their feelings of happiness, frustration, surprise, anger, or delight.
- Physical- Children develop their small and large motor skills during play. They stack blocks, complete puzzles, and paint pictures (small motor). They run on the playground, dance to music, and learn to hop (large motor).
- Cognitive- Play helps children develop cognitive skills—thought processes of learning. These include remembering, problem solving, making decisions, processing information, and learning language.