You might have seen that we're all about having tea parties at the moment. It's not just an excuse for me to play with the wooden toy biscuits, I promise. There's more to it.
Playing tea parties/ picnics / pretending to eat play food is a way of role-playing something that happens in everyday life. It's imaginative in that we're not actually eating the food, but it's close enough to reality that it supports Auggie to understand concepts like sharing, eating together and caring for others.
Imaginative play like this is important for a number of reasons:
☕️ It develops communication and language skills, as we MODEL the language we would use in the real life activity. "Would you like a biscuit?",
☕️it allows children to act out and make sense of real-life situations in a safe space. It's safe to make mistakes here and learn through repetition.
☕️it allows children to explore, investigate and experiment,
☕️it fosters social skills as children, collaborate with others,
☕️ it encourages children to empathise as they take on the role of another character. This teaches children an understanding of different perspectives.
☕️it can help children learn about different cultures and what happens in places other than their typical day to day.
☕️it encourages children to express their ideas and feelings in a relaxed environment,
☕️ it develops children's awareness of themselves and others,
☕️ it can be a fantastic learning tool and a great way for adults to teach basic concepts and. new vocabulary. "We need THREE spoons."
☕️ it sparks creativity and imagination.
I have a play food obsession. So we use that. But food can also be completely pretend (tokens, small objects) or you could use real food (as long as it won't get damaged - there's a pandemic on and food is a luxury!). Grab your little one's teddies or dolls and model how to share, eat, drink and all the language in between.
"teddy has come to the tea party"
"teddy is hungry"
"can i have a biscuit please?" "Thank you! It's delicious!"
"I'm pouring the tea"
"that's a big piece of cake!"
"We need 3 cups"
Will you have a tea party?