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Resources that ignite curiosity

Inspiring curiosity within children’s play spaces can be as simple as it sounds, as most young children are driven to explore, invent and create using simple things around them.

Written by: Early Educational Advisor - Jo Harris  

Inspiring curiosity within children’s play spaces can be as simple as it sounds, as most young children are driven to explore, invent and create using simple things around them. From infants to Preschool, there is much to be investigated when there is time, space, and various materials available.

Drawing from some developmental milestones children experience is an ideal starting point. Sometimes referred to as schemas or patterns of repeated actions, children apply their learning with meaning and context within this type of play.  

Developing Curiosity with Infants

For infants, it can seem more evident from how much of their day consists of routine activities, the patterns that require repetition before they assimilate the information. In the first few months of life, it is important to provide stimulation that encourages children to strengthen their large muscles through movement as they progress from sitting to crawling and eventually walking. 

When teething, they may be given a silicone ring to provide both comfort and stimulation to take the focus away from the discomfort. This can also be used as a stacking toy that helps to develop hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. A silk and wooden teether with a scarf attached encourages two types of textural stimulation. 

Mirrored Hexagon Blocks, Penguin Wobble, and Shake Rattle Rollers are more examples of resources that could be stored in easy-to-reach baskets or shelving to encourage the development of curiosity in infants. Each of these supports feedback between the child and the resource. It will be further enhanced with educator engagement that young children will observe and later repeat as they continue to grow and explore.

Developing Curiosity with Toddlers 

During this stage of development, children have mastered many developmental milestones and are now ready for more robust play and exploration. This is also when children seek feedback that is sometimes outside the resource’s intended use. Children will naturally form their connections through more independent interactions through discovery. Filling, emptying, carrying, and throwing are some common schemas they will explore. 

Activities such as music and movement support children in connecting to how their bodies work. Wrapping up in a Jumbo Play silk and dancing with musical instruments, children can explore cause and effect properties. When experimenting with Pat Bells, children can create their music and sounds with one or more in the set. They could also be used to add sound effects to songs, rhymes, and oral stories.

Stapelstein stacking stones offer unlimited uses as a prop for investigative play. Used as stepping stones, children may also explore ways to incorporate them into activities in which they can climb, sit, balance, fill, or sort items into. When added to a role-play area, they could be used as a hat, helmet, or bowl. 

Adding small dolls to the stones could become beds for the dolls, and covering them with silks could be their blankets or even nappies.  

Incorporating the Pat Bells into a movement activity with the stacking stones may be used to create their own instructions and directions for games on how to climb across them. 

Developing Curiosity with Preschoolers

Children at this stage of development may extend the length of their play and interest in themes or topics related to their curiosity and level of questioning. Their requests may be more specific or sophisticated as they have firm ideas about what they want to know more about. 

Making curiosity the forefront of their play is an opportunity to choose resources that will support and sustain their concentration and enthusiasm. Setting up small world spaces, which include solitary activities and experiences, children can turn their attention to adding the details of the characters and events that might occur during their interactions with others. 

The Magic Wood Large Buildable Tree House with wooden people, houses, animals, cars, and trees offers a world of possibilities for children to explore their communities from the local neighbourhood to the world. 

They may ask deeper questions or focus on aspects of learning about others which further support their budding social and emotional development. Based on their observations, questions could open up about the wider world around them. 

Curiosity and exploration of further microhabitats could occur by zeroing in on different animal species and their environments. This is often a topic that will naturally be of fascination for them and one that they have an open mind about the mystery of. 

By discovering more about Earth before people inhabited it and were ruled by dinosaurs, children can create theories and understandings by engaging with resources within indoor and outdoor play spaces. 

Large dinosaurs and a Jurassic play mat can be placed near a block corner or outdoors amongst the foliage of real or replica trees and plants to set the scene.

Filling a Tuff tray with sand, fossils, and water play brushes, children can be enticed to learn more about our prehistoric ancestors through their remains and traces of the past. 

Fantasy and mystical creatures such as unicorns,  dragons, and fairies are also a constant source of play for children and the development of their imagination. Adding small baskets of blocks, stones, pebbles, woodland animals, and natural materials can enhance the play. 

For more ideas to spark curiosity and wonder in play, please visit

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