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Different types of play stimulate children in different areas of development. The four main categories of play are physical play, explorative and discovery play, social and imaginative play and last but not least, painting.

Physical play helps the child by encouraging physical coordination skills, strength, stamina and confidence in physical abilities. Children love physical play as it gives them the freedom to do things not normally allowed in the house. They exhibit no restrictions as they run, laugh and play with the care free abandonment that only children are capable of.

Physical play can also be conducted within the house by including the child in simple domestic chores. She can help in hanging the clothes out to dry. She can learn the process of drying by evaporation. She will learn the difference between dry and wet and how wet clothes are heavier. Encourage the child to ask questions and explain to her the facts in simple terms for her to comprehend.

Explorative and discovery play develops the general intellectual development of the child. When she explores, she discovers about other things. She will get to understand concepts in a concrete way after her hands-on experience. Playing with construction blocks helps the child in many ways. She develops her gross and fine motor skills handling the blocks. She uses her eye-hand coordination and her control of her fingers improves. She will learn about size, shape, numbers and colors. The basis of simple addition and subtraction is introduced naturally through playing with construction using the blocks. The child learns that more blocks build a higher tower and removing blocks results in a lower tower.

Ordinary daily activities afford many opportunities for counting " lessons ". Count everything that's plural in numbers. This will acclimatize the child the concepts of counting. She learns to count by route and this is important for beginning arithmetic. Nursery rhymes that incorporate counting are also very useful in teaching the child to count orally in fun ways.

Children love fantasy and make-believe. They engage in imaginative play to express themselves as well as their creativity. The child acts out the role play according to her experience of what that role encompasses. Role playing can include taking on many occupations as she acts out her make-believe characters. This develops concepts, lateral and abstract thinking in the make-believe world. Her self-expression is also a gauge for adults to measure her intelligence. Imaginative play develops the child socially as she learns to relate to others. It allows the child to express emotions and reveal her imagination at work. Pretend games are harmless and a normal part of growing up. Usually children outgrow this phase naturally and there is no cause for concern.

Painting is a relaxing form of play for children. The different types of paint such as poster colors, liquid paint or powder paints are interesting to try out for the child. Painting develops fine motor skills such as gripping the brush. There are many different types of paper to use for painting. Children love to make messy play with paints. They love to use fingers, and other objects for their paintings. There is a wealth of objects to explore to use in painting. All these are rich forms of expression using art. Let the child and express herself freely. Later, you can ask her what each of her paintings represent. If they don't resemble the real thing, the paintings are still to be applauded for their attempts to communicate their message. You'll be rewarded with many interesting insights of what the child artist's world is expressed.

Play need not be rigidly structured to stimulate the child. Play in itself is a chance to learn through hands-on experience. Young children should be allowed to play to learn. Then they are stimulated mentally, physically, emotional and socially.