The Magic of Heuristic Play


I know what some of you are thinking… “what is heuristic play?”. This term may be a new one to some, but it is simply the term used to describe children’s interaction with everyday objects instead of toys. 

In Kangaroo Kids this method of play is near and dear to our hearts since introducing The Curiosity Approach and replacing our brightly coloured toys with more awe-inspiring open-ended resources. We saw a dramatic shift in the children’s attitude towards learning and through this we discovered the wonders found in the small and simple moments in life. 

In this day and age, children are constantly surrounded by bright colours and loud noises. The world can be an intimidating place for these little ones who are just learning how to navigate through life’s twists and turns. We found that taking a calmer and more tranquil approach helped children settle into nursery faster, and thus using more seemingly ‘mundane’ items made perfect sense to us. 

From Toys to Open-Ended Resources: 

When giving a child a toy car, it can only ever be a toy car… there is no room for interpretation or space for imagination to work. However, when giving a child a stick… it can be anything! A powerful wizards wand, a wise man’s walking stick, a microphone for your rock concert! The possibilities are limitless, and this allows children to expand their minds and challenge themselves to think outside of the box… or ship, or cave (again, the possibilities are endless). 

I’m sure all parents have experienced coming home with something from the shops exciting and your child is more interested in the box it came in? This is a perfect example of Heuristic Play at work. 

Classic plastic toys can become extremely predictable for little learners, as they will eventually learn that when pushing that specific button a specific noise comes out of the toy… and nothing more is going to happen. On the other hand, when children interact with everyday items, they are often unsure of result or consequence of their interaction with it. 

‘What will happen if I put this bowl on my head? What will happen if I bang this spoon on the table?’ – these are all intrinsic lessons that children learn each day that are vital to their overall development

Sensory Exploration & Cognitive Growth:

In the early years, it is very important for children to deeply explore their senses which in turn supports their cognitive growth and intellectual development. Heuristic play allows infants and toddlers to partake in a wide variety of sensory exploration throughout their everyday lives. It stimulates multiple senses which creates more synapses in the brain, which is the secret to learning new things! 

Exploring everyday items allows children to figure out the context for themselves and develop skills such as innovation and critical thinking. When a child is exposed to a variety of items that vary in shape, size, texture and weight, they are developing their mathematical concepts as they process how the items differ. By comparing the items to one another they learn about form and can begin to conceptualize more complicated mathematical concepts. 

The Power of Possibility: 

As children interact with these seemingly mundane items, they are learning important lessons about the world around them. There’s a saying that goes… “toys that do less, actually do more” and this is relevant to Heuristic Play

Normal items hold a world of possibilities, it just depends on how you look at it. Something that we always say in the nursery, is that we love the way children see the world – full of endless possibilities, free from judgment, and filled with curiosity and wonder. These normal items light up with magic as we watch the children transform them into their wildest dreams, it is truly magnificent to bear witness to. 

Heuristic Play in Nursery Life:

Our incredible staff and beloved families work hand in hand in ensuring the children are actively engaged and learning to the best of their abilities. In Kangaroo Kids Nursery Dubai, we love to recycle and share this passion with our community. We have introduced so many awe-inspiring items gifted from near and far. The children enjoy interacting with real tea pots, cups and saucers, a variation of real kitchen utensils such as wooden spoons, pots and pans. Our role-play areas include a diverse array of beautiful clothing such as blazers, dresses and of course… hats of all kinds! 

We began to introduce curiosity buckets into each of our classrooms which are collections of interesting items. The children love bringing different items from home to add to the buckets, such as shells, door knobs, or even pieces of fabric. These can all be turned into a magical adventure that the children are free to act out as they wish. 

Cost-Effective & Magical:

And do you want to know what one of the best parts of Heuristic Play is? 

It’s … so easy! 

You don’t have to buy the most expensive state-of-the-art toys for your children. Being a parent is tough, super tough. And having to always “keep up with the Joneses” makes it even tougher. Heuristic play allows you to provide your child with easily accessible resources that will stimulate their imagination and creativity. 

These are just a few of the examples of Heuristic play, there is a whole world that awaits! 

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