What Is Guided Play and Why Is It Important? | Seeme & Liz (2022)

You came here for an answer to your question “what is guided play?” but you will leave with a lot more than just a simple answer.

But to quickly and concisely answer the question, guided play is when parents, caregivers and/or educators get involved in their child’s play to teach them new skills in an indirect and implicit way.

Guided play is extremely important for children between the ages of 0 and 3.

Children learn so much during these critical years and parents are their child’s best teachers!

However, play does not come naturally to many adults, myself included.

I learned the importance of play and how to play with young children as part of my education and training in becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist.

Therefore, during many of my therapy sessions with young children it wasn’t a surprise to see parents ooh and aah over my “play techniques”.

I was thrilled when I learned that a Speech-Language Pathologist named Frida, and her company Indy Talk Shop, had come up with a fabulous product to help parents engage in guided play with their young children.

Frida is also the founder of Indy Speech Servicesbased out of New York City.

I had the honor of being able to ask Frida a few questions about her product, The Playbox.

Here are my questions and Frida’s answers.

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1. How Did You Come Up With The Playbox Idea?

Back in 2012, when I was working as a full time pediatric speech-language pathologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, I started thinking about how I could use what I learned in my profession to make a product. That began my journey into a world of entrepreneurship.

I started going to meet up groups for digital healthcare, joining an inventor club and taking a bunch of different courses ranging from marketing to financial spreadsheets and business-plan-making to learn how to make products in healthcare and insurance – stuff that made my head spin and I had no clue how to do!

I even tried taking a computer programming course and drove my husband nuts because he ended up spending hours with me every night after work on my assignments!

After all of that and some seriously long nights, I realized that I was trying to make a product in fields that I really had no idea about. So, I went back to the basics.

I started really listening to what theparents of the children I work with had to say and watching how they interacted with their kids at home during playtime.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that toys weren’t tying in research into their designs and parents weren’t being given the right tools – in the form of toys – to help their kids grow and learn. That’s how I started designing our Playbox.

2. Who Is Your Target Audience?

We love to connect with parents of little ones between the ages of 0-3 because we fundamentally believe that this time period is critical for brain development, bonding and overall growth.

This is such a special time between parents and kids that we feel families deserve better designed toys to help them reach their child’s potential when playing with them.

Our Playbox line is designed for toddlers and preschoolers, but our baby line will be designed for those early months into their first year to help guide better interactive play with infants.

3. What Are The Benefits Of Using A Playbox As Opposed To Regular Toys?

The benefits of our Playbox are threefold:


Encourages Guided Play

The Playbox is designed based off the outcomes in child development research. This research has shown that if parents gently guide how kids play by asking them questions, emphasizing important words and conversing with kids, kids learn more abstract skills, develop better bonds and even increase their IQ scores.

What Is Guided Play and Why Is It Important? | Seeme & Liz (2)

Our story is designed to engage parents and their kids in this type of guided play routine that researchers have said is great for their development.

In our first Playbox launching in late February 2017 called Indy and the Farm, we have paired an original story and matching farm animal puzzle set.

As parents read the story, they are prompted to emphasize certain words, sounds and vocabulary as well as ask questions and pose simple problems with the puzzle.

This type of interaction promotes a reading-while-playing experience that is all about guided play to improve communication and cognitive skills.

By the end of the interaction, kids have not only practiced their language skills, but also become more flexible mentally and exercised their problem-solving muscles!

Promotes Developmental Skills

Since I am a pediatric speech-language therapist, I have taken research from my area of study as well as my clinical experience to hand-pick the words, sounds and vocabulary that are critical for toddlers and preschoolers to learn.

I was also very careful to pick the nature of the story, the puzzle and methodically considered the type of interaction that the experience could create between parents and kids.

I wanted there to be lessons available for the child just as there are for the parent in terms of what guided play looks like and how to do it so that parents could try it with other toys too!

As parents, I think it is pretty easy to get bogged down with what exactly to teach our kids and when. This helps narrow that down a bit so that you can focus on the developmental skills that are most salient and important to practice while playing.

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Our Playbox comes in a wooden box that stores the story with the matching toy.

This design allows for ease of storage in any bookshelf! We will also be adding other features, like a handle or straps to the box, to help kiddos transport their Playboxes from place to place without hassle.

4a. Do You Feel Parents Can Get Too Carried Away Providing Guided Play Activities?

I think that as parents, we try to search for good solutions to help us focus the time that we have with our kids.

But, sometimes good marketing from big companies moves us in the wrong direction.

For example, new research has shown that apps on devices that move from image to image too quickly, can actually be hurting our kids’ attention spans.

Many parents wonder whether or not using technology is good for their little one’s development, but the answer is not so simple as a “yes” or a “no”, but it is more about the quality and quantity of what is being used.

Also, the toys that are being called “interactive” right now are along the same vein. These are the toys that repeatedly play music, sounds and flash lights.

If you take a close look at what happens when a child and parent play with one of these toys, you realize that they stop talking to each other because they are listening to the toy instead. The toy doesn’t give the child a chance to respond verbally. That may also be hurting our kids’ development.

On the other end of the spectrum, kids have very overbooked schedules and don’t have any time to just be – or, be bored!

Being bored offers great opportunities for imagination to strike and creativity to thrive. This is when kids come up with interesting new games, role-playing scenarios and all kinds of imaginary play schemas that help them really take off developmentally!

All in all, I think it is about creating a sense of balance and harmony between offering kids opportunities for guided play while also giving them their time to have fun and play freely too.

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4b. If Yes, How Do You Suggest They Find A Balance

Finding a balance to anything can be difficult. My suggestion to families would be to observe your kids more.

When I sit back and observe what a child is telling me, whether they are talking or telling me non-verbally with their gestures and body language, I am able to easily gauge what they are interested in doing at that moment.

Sometimes, kids really want you to just watch them play on their own when they are engaging in free play.

Other times, they are vying for your participation. That is because they inherently know that you can teach them amazing new things.

It is during these moments that guided play really manifests beautifully between parents and their kids because it is natural, fun and carefree. So my suggestion would be to really watch them and to follow their lead.

5. Do You Believe Children Need A Mix Of Guided Play and Free (Unstructured) Play?

Absolutely! Children need to learn to how to manage their world on their own at times and at other times, be guided on how to do so.

They learn how to do that through a combination of guided play and unstructured play. Both are not only great, but crucial to a child’s healthy development.

Tanya’s Final Thoughts

As children get older the need for guided play lessens because most children have already learned many valuable skills and can put those skills into practice through child directed free play!

So don’t worry about constantly “planning” activities for your children as they get older. But in the early years a good amount of guided play is extremely important and a toy such as a Playbox will be beneficial to both you and your child.

The first Playbox is called “Indy and The Farm” and contains a carefully thought out, age appropriate book along with a coordinating puzzle.

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You will also receive instructions to get the most out of your Playbox. Make sure you take a look and learnmore about the Playbox!

What Is Guided Play and Why Is It Important? | Seeme & Liz (4)


What is the importance of guided play? ›

Guided play combines the best elements of free play and direct instruction: child autonomy and adult expertise. It provides an optimal medium for delivering educational content in ways that are enjoyable and that allow for genuine child agency, while constraining chil- dren's activities to facilitate learning.

How does guided play work? ›

Guided play is a shared experience between adults and children where adults provide scaffolding (preparation of relevant and engaging materials, modeling of new skills, and purposeful conversation) to boost language, development, and learning.

Why do children need to be guided? ›

Guidance provides children with appropriate and positive models of behaviour and helps them to develop respect, self-regulation, self-confidence and sensitivity as they learn and grow. Guidance is needed while appropriate behaviour is happening, as well as before, during, and after inappropriate behaviour is displayed.

Why is play important Eyfs? ›

The Importance of Play. Play underpins the EYFS. It also underpins learning and all aspects of children's development. Through play, children develop language skills, their emotions and creativity, social and intellectual skills.

What are the benefits of guided learning? ›

The benefits of guided learning include: It allows students to explore new concepts and ideas with guidance from a teacher. It gives opportunities for students to work together in a group setting, which develops social skills and cooperation.

What are 2 examples of guided activities? ›

Guided Practice Activities
  • Diagramming. Student pairs work together on a diagram that illustrates and explains how paper is manufactured. ...
  • Completing graphic organizers. Students fill out KWL charts or other graphic organizers about the topic of an informational book. ...
  • Experimenting. ...
  • Analyzing.
21 Oct 2019

What does guided play look like? ›

Ideally, guided play involves forethought in setting up play opportunities based on a learning goal, but it doesn't necessarily require extensive adult interaction. For example, if a climbing structure is painted to show units of measurement, children may take notice and talk about how high they're climbing.

How do you implement guided play in the classroom? ›

Engage in responsive dialogue with children as they explore. Model and promote positive social and emotional skills. Ask open-ended questions to deepen students' thinking and extend their learning. Document children's learning and experiences using photographs, video, and scribing children's thoughts/ideas.

Why is teacher guided activities important? ›

Critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, adaptability and analytical thinking are all developed predominantly through teacher guidance. detailed lesson plan with activities will address this type of learning.

What are child guided activities? ›

Child-guided play is a form of play where children are allowed to explore under the guidance of adults. One important factor when it comes to guided play is that adults follow the lead of the child. This allows the child some autonomy to explore.

Why is it important to teach and guide children in their decisions? ›

Kids will make mistakes, so don't pressure to always make the right decision when practising. Help them learn from their mistakes and teach them not to repeat them. With good decision-making ability, kids will be able to make positive life choices as they grow.

How does the Eyfs define play? ›

Play is a physical or mental activity that we do for fun, without any other purpose in mind. Play in the Early Years Foundation Stage is often used to encourage aspects of children's learning and development while they are having fun. It can be a very social activity or one done alone.

Why is play important in the classroom? ›

When children engage in real‐life and imaginary activities, play can challenge children's thinking. Children learn best through first-hand experiences—play motivates, stimulates and supports children in their development of skills, concepts, language acquisition, communication skills, and concentration.

What is the main goal of guided reading? ›

The main goal of guided reading is to help students use reading strategies whilst reading for meaning independently.

What is the meaning of guided learning? ›

Guided learning is learning facilitated by a teacher. Instruction is one form of guided learning. Guidance can also occur through a carefully prepared learning environment, for example, as in Montessori classrooms, museums, makerspaces, etc.

What guided learning activities? ›

Guided learning is a term that refers to a process in which learners initiate and advance their learning guided by more experienced partners and socially derived sources, such as tools, text, and/or other artifacts.

What is guided activity and example? ›

Everyone has sat in a math class and watched a teacher model how to solve a problem. Students ask questions until they are able to understand. Then, the teacher turns over the task to the students. This is an example of guided practice.

How do you teach guided practice? ›

Quick Definition of Guided Practice

It involves three steps for practicing new skills in the classroom. First, the teacher models how to do a task to the student. Second, the student does the task with guidance from the teacher. Third, the student practices the task independently.

Is guided practice effective? ›

Guided practice within explicit instruction has been shown to be an effective method for teaching academic and behavioral skills to students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). The support provided through guided practice allows students to acquire new skills confidently and successfully.

What are guided activities? ›

Guided Practice is interactive instruction between the teacher and students. After the teacher introduces new learning, he/she begins the student practice process by engaging students in a similar task to what they will complete later in the lesson independently.

What is self guided play? ›

Self-directed play, also known as open ended or intrinsically motivated play, happens when a child plays completely of his own accord, with no adult direction or instruction.

What is a teacher guided activity? ›

In her community talk, Pyle also described “teacher-guided play” as a hybrid of child and teacher direction in the center of a play continuum that starts with free play driven by the children and their imaginations, and ends with direct instruction, which is completely driven by the teacher.

How do you engage students during guided reading? ›

9 Ways to Engage Your Students During Reading Block
  1. 2 – Whole Group Whiteboards. During whole group, incorporate a variety of engagement strategies. ...
  2. 3 – Read Aloud Engagement. ...
  3. 4 – Make Learning Phonics Skills Fun. ...
  4. 6 – Small Group Engagement. ...
  5. 8 – Add Technology.
28 Feb 2022

How do you engage students in guided reading? ›

Have students talk briefly about how they would answer the question. Then, let them take the guided reading books back to their seats and respond to that question independently, in writing. The next time the group meets, students can bring their responses back and share them with a partner.

How do you use play to encourage children's learning? ›

Playing can help children develop their social skills with others.
By listening, paying attention and sharing play experiences, this helps a child:
  1. explore their feelings.
  2. develop self-discipline.
  3. learn how to express themselves.
  4. work out emotional aspects of life.

Why is teacher guided activities important? ›

Critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, adaptability and analytical thinking are all developed predominantly through teacher guidance. detailed lesson plan with activities will address this type of learning.

Why is play important Vygotsky? ›

In Vygotsky's cultural-historical theory, play is an important part of early childhood. Vygotsky believed that play promotes cognitive, social, and emotional development in children.

What is the role of the teacher during guided reading? ›

Teacher's role in guided reading. Teachers select texts to match the needs of the group so that the students, with specific guidance, are supported to read sections or whole texts independently.

What guided learning activities? ›

Guided learning is a term that refers to a process in which learners initiate and advance their learning guided by more experienced partners and socially derived sources, such as tools, text, and/or other artifacts.

What does guided play look like? ›

Ideally, guided play involves forethought in setting up play opportunities based on a learning goal, but it doesn't necessarily require extensive adult interaction. For example, if a climbing structure is painted to show units of measurement, children may take notice and talk about how high they're climbing.

What does Vygotsky say about play? ›

Vygotsky states: “In play a child is always above his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself.

What does Piaget and Vygotsky say about play? ›

Where Piaget presented the child as a 'lone scientist', Vygotsky emphasised the social and cultural aspects of play. He argued that during play children were able to think in more complex ways than in their everyday lives, and could make up rules, use symbols and create narratives.

What did you learn about play from Vygotsky? ›

According to Vygotsky, in separating mental symbols from reality, children augment their internal capacity to regulate their actions; in engaging in rule-based play, they respond to external pressures to act in socially desirable ways.


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