Guided play combines play that is kid-led with gentle instruction or suggestions from adults. It allows kids to be in control of the way they are playing, while adults help them to reach a goal or learn a new skill.

It’s play with a purpose!

What is Guided Play

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Guided play represents an “enhanced discovery” approach to learning that increases your kids’ knowledge. Here’s an example:

Your kids are playing with blocks. You can enhance their learning by asking questions:
  • What shape is that block?
    • If it’s a square, talk about the qualities of a square – count four corners together and notice how all of the sides are equal lengths.
  • What colors are your blocks?
    • After they name a color, point to another color and name it, tell your kids your favorite color and ask what colors they like.
  • How many blocks are in your tower? Let’s count them!
    • Help your kids experiment by asking what they think will happen if they put another block on the top, or use all their breath to try to blow the tower over.

Guided play also provides your kids an opportunity to receive immediate feedback and guidance from you when they need it, which can help curb their frustration and extend the activity! Here’s an example:

Your kids are doing a floor puzzle, but they can’t make some of the pieces fit.
  • Talk your kids through flipping pieces in different directions until they fit together.
  • Point out different colors, shapes, animals, etc. that look to you like they might go together, and encourage your kids to give it a try. 
  • Offer praise when they fit pieces together: “You really thought that one through!” or “Good thinking! You found the tiger tail and matched it to the rest of the tiger!”