A virtual reality approach to child obesity prevention
With greater screen time usage being linked to obesity in children, finding new ways to encourage youngsters to sit less and play more is crucial. Transferring the attraction of the virtual world to a real environment might seem like a challenge. But the power of imaginative play can be just as compelling for children – particularly if they have the right tools to spark an adventure. At Hand Made Places we design, manufacture and install a wide range of play equipment which fosters creativity, transporting little ones to a make believe land off screen. Instead of immersing themselves in an electronic fantasy world, children engage in imaginative outdoor play which in turn brings important developmental benefits.
How does imaginative play support growth?
Imaginative play helps to develop the mind, body and spirit and is key to health and wellbeing in little ones. Without realising it, children will be running, jumping and skipping about as they act out a superhero rescue, journey into the unknown on a space rocket or travel through shark infested waters to escape pirates. Pretend play can also reflect real life experiences or scenarios children would like to be involved in, giving them an insight into new perspectives. Practising language and communication skills comes about naturally through imaginative play as well as developing social skills, such as learning to share and take turns. Dramatic play also gives children experience of problem solving and decision making as they interpret different situations and learn to express their feelings.
Imaginative play ideas
Children have the freedom to explore in a safe and comfortable environment when they get involved in imaginative play. Large scale play areas, such as our Play Den, Ripley Climbing Frame, or Oakwood Galleon are perfect for this type of play. Children not only utilise these play spaces in innovative ways, they also expand their physical capabilities through open-ended activity. Animal games are always poplar with children and our collection of Play Sculptures ranges from insects such as a Grasshopper and Dragonfly to farmyard favourites including a Sheep and Hog through to the more unfamiliar sights such as Sharks, Snakes and even Sea Monsters. Vehicles also fascinate children – and when it comes to exploring transport we have everything from a Log Train to a Petrol Pump to inspire a journey to wherever their imagination takes them. Toy cars and other small toys can even be taken into the outdoors with our Mini Micro World tables. Sometimes acting out with toys, puppets and props can help youngsters to master their emotions. Our Star Stage and Puppet Theatre are brilliant tools for encouraging children to come up with stories or plays or even to help them keep fit through dance and dramatic performances.
Bringing screen-time interests into play
Are little ones spending their time watching videos of firefighters online? Try investing in a playground with a tower and slide pole, like our Beddington Play Unit. Do they build their own landscapes within the confines of a construction video game? Try our Holey Poles for making a camp. Are they addicted to survival multiplayer games? How about playing in our Adventure Castle? As well as mirroring online interests outdoors, technology can also become part of the activity. Use apps to discover new walks and trails, or film children as they make their own videos to watch together later. With Hand Made Places, it is possible to balance screen time with outdoor activity to improve the health and wellbeing of children. Browse our products online or get in touch to discuss your playground needs and ideas.