“We don't stop playing because we get older; "We grow old because we stop playing."

(GB Shaw).

One of the best things that the Three Wise Men can leave under the tree for a child is a symbolic toy.

If you still do not know their importance, in this article we will explain what symbolic games are, why they are the best option to give as a gift in these Kings 2024, what are the benefits for health and child development and from what age does it begin to appear. .

What is symbolic play?

The simplest way to define it is this: symbolic play is a type of game played by young children, in which they use an object or toy to represent something else. It is called symbolic because it precisely implies a simulation, since objects or toys are symbols that represent other roles or things.

The Russian psychiatrist Lev Vygotsky theorized at the beginning of the 20th century that fantasy is essential for the healthy development of each child . It helps you overcome impulsivity, develop more complicated cognitive functions, understand rules and language, and of course, cultivate your symbolic capacity.

More definitions: symbolic play encompasses any spontaneous activity in which children use their mental capacity to recreate an apparently invisible scenario , demonstrating everything they can imagine. For example, a broom can be a winged horse, a tree branch can become a wand, or a bottle broken in half can be a pirate ship. They can also pretend to be fathers or mothers, cooks, cowboys, astronauts and multiple other roles and characters.

At what age does symbolic play develop?

As a general rule, symbolic play begins to develop at 2 years of age , and is more versatile and complex when children reach the ages between 3 and 5 years.

The researchers point out that a child who follows a sequence when playing (stirring the milk and then feeding the doll) will also be able to handle the syntax of language (“I need paper and crayons”).

Benefits of symbolic play for children

Symbolic play is essential for children: it activates their creativity, helps them externalize behaviors and learn new ones, experience other worlds and stimulate their imagination, activate social and emotional skills or express their feelings. It is a key type of game within their maturation process.

It is also a springboard to numeracy and literacy . For example, by following a sequence during the game - such as “preparing” a bottle and feeding a doll - the use of language syntax is stimulated.

The skills that a child acquires through symbolic play can be summarized in five, according to the health website Healthline.

  1. Cognitive habilyties . By exercising the imagination, the child develops new neural pathways and learns to think creatively, represent experiences and improve decision making and problem solving.
  2. Social skills . Symbolic play teaches the child to see the "other", to cooperate and negotiate with those who think differently and to develop empathy.
  3. Self-esteem. Symbolic play increases the child's self-esteem, providing them with self-confidence, help to master their frustration and tools to organize their thinking and overcome emotional difficulties.
  4. Language . Since a child needs a developed memory to understand that an object can represent something other than itself, play is the first step in language acquisition and an excellent way to develop and expand vocabulary.
  5. Both fine and gross motor skills , as the game involves action, manipulation of objects, movement, etc. Therefore, dexterity, balance, hand-eye coordination, sensory stimulation, strength, flexibility or concentration are also worked on.

What symbolic games to give a child for Three Kings in 2024

Best symbolic toys for children

At Cucamenta you can find a wide collection of symbolic games from the most select brands and with the most respectful and best quality materials for your children.

And if you don't want to opt for symbolic play, remember that you have many other options: from stuffed animals and doudous ideal for babies , to multi-activity walkers , rattles with sound , bee hives , the funniest board games , climbing cubes and balance bars - ideal for promoting physical activity - or learning towers , very versatile and great for getting the most out of them.


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