10 Real-Life Examples of Relational Play Observed In Kids

A child goes through rapid physical, motor, and brain development during certain initial years of life. The development during this period impacts the whole life of the developing kid, hence, it is necessary to ensure that a child is developing healthily. 

One significant parameter that ensures and facilitates the healthy development of a child is Play. A child goes through various stages of Play during their life such as pretend play, constructive play, and symbolic play. Relational Play is one of the plays that a young child engages in. Relational Play begins in the toddler years and lasts till the preschool years. Like other forms of Play, relational Play has many benefits. 

Relational play in young children is a form of play where kids actively explore different objects or environments and manipulate them to identify how one object relates to another. This can be done by combining, stacking, or building different objects. Relational play also encourages independence in developing children. 

Parents or caregivers play an active role in promoting and encouraging children to engage in relational Play. They can provide the necessary toys, environment, attention, and time to the kids and can play along with them. Additionally, parents can encourage children and show them different ways to play games. 

Let’s cover some examples of relational Play that are evident in real-life. 

Examples of relational play 

Relational Play is a crucial step in the development of a child. Some examples of relational Play that children engage in are- 

1 . Banging two utensils, such as a lid or spoon, on the pot 

Banging two utensils, such as a lid or spoon, on the pot 

Banging two utensils, such as a lid or spoon on the pot or any other utensil, is a common example of relational Play. Toddlers often bang one object on another for playing. The banging of objects also creates loud noises, which kids seem to enjoy; hence, banging the objects as loud as possible. 

2. Stacking plates on top of each other 

Stacking plates on top of each other 

Stacking plates or objects on each other is another example of relational Play. Young children are often creative with the stacking of objects. Such as, they sometimes stack plates on each other, or they might stack one plate, then one cup, then another plate, and so on. 

3. Putting the toys in the toy bucket 

Putting the toys in the toy bucket 

Putting the toys back in the toy bucket is an activity that parents demand from their little ones to teach them the importance of cleaning. Though, they make a game out of it. The toy bucket becomes their goal and toys their target. They will throw the toys into the buckets to make a goal, or simply the toy should successfully land in the bucket. 

4. Playing with the puzzle pieces 

Playing with the puzzle pieces 

Playing with puzzle pieces is another example of relational Play. Kids try to combine the different puzzle pieces to form some shape or object. They also engage with various interlocking games and try to form different shapes from them. Lego is another game that young children engage with. 

5. Pouring juice using a pitcher 

 Pouring juice using a pitcher 

Children view their parents as engaging in different activities and try to copy them. Pouring the liquid using a pitcher into glasses is one such activity. Toddlers pour liquids from one glass or bowl to another and another, and so on. Pouring the liquid is a fun relational play that kids often engage in. 

6. Stirring the soup in a bowl using a spoon 

 Stirring the soup in a bowl using a spoon 

Another common example of relational Play is to stir the soup or any liquid in the bowl using a spoon. Young children can play anytime and with anything, such as their meals. They often stir the food in the bowls using spoons or other objects. 

7. Special greetings or handshakes 

 Special greetings or handshakes 

Kids actively explore new surroundings and objects and creatively interact with them. They can easily be taught a form of greeting, such as a handshake, high-five, bumping of shoulders, etc. They enjoy these special forms of greetings and look forward to them. 

8. Grouping the objects together 

Grouping the objects together 

Another common relational play example is a grouping of objects together. Developing kids often group small and big objects, such as balls or household chairs. They collect and group the respective objects just for the sake of fun and organize those objects in multiple ways, highlighting their creativity. 

9. Playing with gardening tools in the garden 

Playing with gardening tools in the garden 

Multiple toy gardening tools are available that young children manipulate and play with. Digging the soil with gardening tools, burying things inside them, or some dead plants with the hope of new plants growing, or simply watering the plants is something the kids happily engage in. 

10. Hitting the ball with the bat 

 Hitting the ball with the bat 

Another common example of relational Play is hitting the ball with the bat. Young children either throw the ball on their own and run after it to hit it or ask their parents or elder siblings to throw it and hit it with the bat. They often play with a ball only by throwing it on a wall and trying to catch it.  

How does relational play support the development of children? 

Relational Play is crucial for growing children’s physical, intellectual, and motor development. Some other benefits of relational Play are-

1. Problem-solving skills 

Relational Play enhances the problem-solving skills of developing kids. Relational Play allows exploring the surrounding and engaging with various objects. Dealing with objects and manipulating them requires problem-solving skills, which toddlers learn with the help of relational Play. For instance, stacking the objects in any form will result in the collapse of all the objects. Hence, they learn to place small objects first, followed by large ones. 

2. Hand-eye coordination 

Playing with objects enhances the focus of the children. Toddlers actively use their hands and eyes and learn to coordinate them, which is crucial for the early development of young children. There are various hand-eye coordination activities, such as kids try to put the pieces of puzzles together. 

3. Motor skills 

Playing with objects strengthens the muscles of developing children. They engage in multiple sports which is beneficial for their development such as running from here and there, grabbing one object from one place, stacking it somewhere else, or playing with a ball or bat that improves their motor skills. Relational play helps to improve fine and gross motor skills, both. 

4. Concentration 

Relational Play is also useful for enhancing the concentration of developing children. They engage in an activity and sometimes concentrate on it for a longer time, such as digging the soil and burying some waste or dead plants in it. Over time, relational Play helps increase the attention span in young children. 

5. Pattern-recognition 

Another benefit of relational Play is it helps toddlers identify patterns. They recognize different patterns in their playing objects and manipulate objects accordingly. For instance, toddlers identify that for stacking a large pile of plates, they need large objects to be placed first, followed by small objects. They further follow the same pattern in their stacking games. Various board games can also be used for facilitating pattern recognition in developing kids.

Final words 

Relational Play is a part of a child’s development. It provides an opportunity for a developing child to engage with the surroundings, manipulate the different objects, and creatively play with the objects and toys. Relational Play is also important for intellectual development. Toddlers use age-appropriate toys or any object available to them and engage in relational Play. Relational Play is simply exploring the objects and identifying how one object relates to another. 

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