National Playday – Hooray!
Community play spaces offer so much joy and are so important for a child’s natural development. National Playday is an annual event which was invented to protect these spaces which children play in. The awareness day happens on the first Wednesday in August annually and is run by a dedicated organisation who work in partnership with Play England, Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland. This year, ‘Playday’ will be on Wednesday 2nd August – so next week!
So, how did this all come about? In London, in the 1980s, there was a loss of funding for play centres and playgrounds in the local communities and schools. A determined group of playworkers organised a meeting to see if they could do anything about the situation and ‘National Playday’ was born in response to these cuts in funding. It is an incredibly important event which endeavours to promote an understanding of the importance of play. As well as giving everyone the opportunity for some fun, play has a vital role in a child’s happiness and development.
Did you know that the United National describes play as one of a child’s fundamental rights? In its ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child’, the importance of play is clearly stated. In the UK, National Playday is seen as an opportunity to educate people on the need for childhood play. It also hopes to drive forward the protection of play spaces and play facilities which children can safely and happily enjoy.
Fred Rogers, the creator, and star of the long-running American television show ‘Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood’ is famous for saying, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play IS serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
So, I think we have established the importance of play but how can families get involved in this year’s National Playday?
- Show some appreciation for a local playground – go for a play there and promote its upkeep to others.
- Early Years – Encourage your toddler/preschooler to play outdoors (weather permitting), letting them play how they wish - allowing their imaginations to roam free. The addition of toys is great, but children of this age also love investigating random bits and bobs – pots, pans, wooden spoons, leaves, sticks…
- No equipment is needed for the old classics like ‘I spy’, ‘Shadow Tag – or just Tag’, ‘What’s the time Mr. Wolf?’ and ‘Simon Says’ for example. You may even get a couple of minutes peace by playing ‘Sleeping Lions’.
- Take a search online, there are thousands of Outdoor Activity Ideas for early years children.
- School-aged children are great at inventing their own games and fantasy play. Why not encourage this role-play by taking some materials outside to make some character masks with? Masks can really ignite a child’s imagination – their characters and stories can really come to life.
Here, at Naturally Sheepskins, we hope to improve the lives of parents and children by providing them with quality sheepskin products. There are several ways in which sheepskins can help little ones to ‘play’. Malleable play is fantastic for developing your child’s fine motor skills as they practise building their hand muscles and learn about their own strength. Building these muscles is an essential pre-requisite for mark-making, holding a pencil and writing. Any (safe) material that children can manipulate with their own hands or tools is recognised as ‘malleable play’ in the Early Years Curriculum. There are obvious choices such as play-dough, slime, sand, water and clay…however it can also involve much simpler materials. The soft, silky and malleable texture of sheepskin is fantastic for babies and toddlers to play with. They can explore its texture by running the sheepskins through their fingers, they can tug at it and stroke it. Want to know more about the different types of play in early years? Well, check out our blog next week which will explore this and play theories in depth.
Sheepskins are also great for creating soft and welcoming spaces for children to play in. They make ideal rugs in ‘reading corners’ or form a comfy surface for the bottom of a den. Little ones really do love to play and rest on them – when they are tired, they can simply lie down and have some quiet time. For very young babies, our sheepskins can even be used as a mat in their play gym. Our customers often tell us stories about how they have been caught short when their baby has needed a nappy change out and about. They have simply opened out their sheepskin footmuff, put a muslin over the top of it and changed their baby in comfort. Our baby rugs with a sheet over the top are also perfect for carrying out ‘tummy-time’ activities with your little one to strengthen their neck muscles.
The familiar touch and feel of a sheepskin can also be such a comfort to your youngster. Babies and toddlers often become very attached to their sheepskin, so it is incredibly fortunate that they are easily portable. Travelling with your sheepskin and presenting it at an unfamiliar setting can really help to calm your child. Its presence will help your tot feel more relaxed and in turn, happier to simply ‘play’.
Check out the following ranges of our sheepskins which can really facilitate ‘play-time’ for your baby, toddler or child:
Merino Sheepskin Baby Rug
Sheepskin Pram Liners
So, happy National Playday for this Wednesday – don’t forget to make some time to play!