• Danielle Mussafi

Concept: Adding ‘Novelty’

If I were to ask you your child’s favorite toy, I’m sure you could think of that special one they love the most in seconds. Be it babydolls, trains, cars and trucks, or blocks, most children have something that particularly drives their interests, imagination and their play. Children really do thrive on routine, rhythm and predictability and often like to play with the same toy the same way over and over again (or read the same book, or listen to the same songs, etc). This is developmentally appropriate as children learn from the repetition as well as find safety and comfort in the familiar. While this repetitive play is wonderful as is, there is something we adults can do periodically to enhance and evolve their play: add a bit of novelty!

When I am preparing our classroom in the morning for our friends, I often think of what I‘ve observed them playing with and exploring previously. This particular class loved trains and would be very happy playing with the trains and the train tracks in the playroom day in and day out. However, I would often like to introduce a little novelty here. Either by changing location (bring the trains out into the main room or in the library, laying them out on a table and not the floor) or adding a new element (the people figurines, animal figurines, blocks, etc) I would experiment to see how their play would grow and change. This is an easy way to infuse a bit of intrigue and excitment while also keeping it familiar and comforting.

Here are some examples from this week at my house:

Rahm loves his trucks and cars and will often play with them in his little play area. One day, I drew out a simple track on a large piece of paper, laid out a few trucks, and set it up in our dining room area. The addition of a new track plus the new location invited Rahm to explore his trucks in a new way. He also enjoyed coloring on the track, as well.

Later that week, after putting the paper track away for a few days, I brought it back out but this time put it on our coffee table. Again, the slight change of environment invited Rahm to explore his toys in a different way, as seen below:

I had never seen him line up his trucks quite like this before!

This week, spend a day or so observing how your children are playing with their favorite toys: where, how, and with what else. And then one day, add something new to the mix! Move the play somewhere else in the house, or add a new element. Adding something new and different to the familiar is a great recipe for deeper play!



- Add scarves to be blankets or wraps

- Change locations to include real beds or at the dining room table to imagine meal times

- If water safe, add water for bath time


- What other household items might make good building blocks?

- Add recyclables like paper towel rolls and tissue boxes

- Add figurines, dolls, animals, cars and trucks etc

- If you have access to an outdoor space, would building outside change the play?


- Put paper in different locales! How would drawing in their bedroom differ than the living room?

- Hang paper on wall for vertical exploration

- Use different materials to draw or paint on: cardboard, tin foil, cloth.

- Experiement with paper size

If you’d like guidance on adding some novelty to your kiddo’s favorite type of play, please ask!

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