Describe benefits of: physical play, creative play, imaginative play, sensory play

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.1: Understand the value of play in Early Years
Learning outcome: Understand different types of play for all children
Assessment criteria: Describe benefits of: physical play, creative play, imaginative play, sensory play


There are many different types of play, but all of them are important for child development.

Physical play involves gross motor skills, such as running, jumping, climbing, throwing and catching. It helps children build strong muscles and bones, improve their heart and lung function, and keep them fit and healthy. It can also contribute to the development of coordination and balance. In addition, it can teach them how to interact with others, as well as develop confidence and learn how to take calculated risks.


Creative play allows children to explore their imaginations and express themselves using a variety of methods, including mark-making, music, and crafting. It can support the development of fine motor skills and stimulate self-expression, problem-solving, and social skills. Additionally, creative play provides opportunities for children to make decisions and use their own ideas to explore the world around them.

Imaginative play allows children to step into the shoes of other people and characters, creating experiences that help build empathy and understanding. Examples can include role-playing (e.g. dressing up) and small-world play (e.g. a doll’s house). It can also help develop language and communication skills, foster creativity and support the understanding of complex relationships.


Lastly, sensory play encourages children to use their senses to explore the world around them through touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. Activities might include playing with water, sand or slime. It can help develop problem-solving skills and cognitive development by encouraging exploration and experimentation. Sensory play also helps build fine motor skills and can also be a relaxation activity.

In conclusion, physical play, creative play, imaginative play and sensory play each provide important benefits for child development. Each type of play encourages learning across various skills and knowledge areas. Therefore, it is important to ensure that children are provided with meaningful opportunities to engage in different types of play in order to reach their full potential

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