setting up for success

I've got a heuristic set, but now what do I do with it?

This is your guide to setting up a ProjectPlay heuristic set - 

We get asked this many times! And the answer is simply – NOTHING! Well not quite that simple, but a heuristic set is designed to spark curiosity, wonder, excitement, engagement, creativity, adventure and exploration. Everyday, simple, open ended items, that ignite the senses through different textures, sizes and materials, that don’t require any batteries! A heuristic set aims to be a calming and engaging “toy” that ignites a child’s inner urge to explore the world around them, while sparking their imagination.

Simple, natural, calming, eco-friendly, baby-friendly, toddler-friendly, parent-friendly! - No whizz bang, over stimulating lights, or annoying noises!!

Here at ProjectPlay, we promote the environment as the third teacher - Say WHAT?? In a nutshell this means that it is our job as parents, caregivers, educators & teachers, to provide the right play environment for children to learn in. This philosophy means that the environment provides all the opportunities for children and we as adults take on an observation role & let the children explore the environment in their own time, pace & space.

Setting up a play space using loose parts is a simple and easy investment into your child’s learning and development. All you basically need are some open-ended loose parts and a blanket/rug to place them and your child on. It’s really that simple! No batteries required!

Follow our simple steps below to get the most out of your heuristic play set.

  1. Pick a quiet space in your home that is free from “traffic”. By this we mean a space that it not a thoroughfare or a space where people/animals will need to step over to get past. A little corner in your living space is ideal as this ensures your child feels safe and secure in their own play space, setting up the perfect environment to explore. Ensure this is a space you can easily supervise, and is away from any potential furniture that may fall into your child eg: book shelf, tv etc…
  2. Once you have found your ideal space, place a blanket or rug on the floor. This gives warmth and comfort as well as defining the space intended for play. This indicates to your child that this is their “yes” space, that they are allowed to freely explore here. A nice soft blanket works well on carpet, or a rug if you have wooden floors.
  3. Gather your loose parts and place them on the blanket/rug. You can either leave them in the cotton bag or place them in a low, sturdy basket. Ideally the basket will need to have a flat bottom and be made from a natural material.
  4. Next invite your child to explore this space. For a child who is sitting, having the bag or basket available is enough to spark their curiosity. Sit beside them and discover alongside your child as they explore it’s contents. Let your child lead the play. Your role is to observe, while also being present and available. You can use descriptive language to describe what they are learning such as: soft; smooth; rough; shiny; hard; bumpy; flat; round; squishy. For a child who is non-mobile, place a few items on either side of their upper body. Close enough for your child to reach out and grab what interests them, but far away enough that it allows them a little challenge and promotes movement. This encourages them to move their head from side to side, kick their legs and stretch their arms. You can also sit beside your child and offer different objects to them to hold. Again use the descriptive language to describe what they are experiencing. Remember this is all new to an infant who is just learning about the world. Giving them words to match their learning all help them to build the important connections for healthy brain development.

Enjoy this time with your little one, take it slow and soak up the wonder that is their learning. Always supervise your child while they are exploring with their heuristic set, especially if they like to mouth objects (remember this is all learning too so we encourage this, but promote safety first!).

Play tips:

  • Choose a time when your child is settled and calm. Just after a sleep or a feed is a great time, when they are ready and settled to engage in play. When children’s needs are met they are then able to feel safe and secure to then play. An easy way to set this up, is when your child is napping, this gives you time to create your play space and “re-set” for the next part of your day.
  • For a non-mobile child, you can place items just out of their reach to encourage them to reach out and grab. This promotes determination, gross motor development and builds sense of self achievement when they are able to work out how to reach the object. It also encourages them to find ways to move their body such as rolling and crawling.
  • Regularly rotating the items in your collection, and introducing new objects offers new challenges, stimulating curiosity, concentration and a sense of independence.
  • A circular rug offers balance, and enables you to place objects around the edge of the circle to encourage your child to move and explore. This is especially beneficial for children who are just learning to roll and move about freely, sparking curiosity & motivating them to move. 

 Our heuristic sets and loose parts, are designed to grow with your child, that is the beauty of open-ended play items! For older children you may like to set up an invitation to play, or simply having these available for your child to explore at their free will.

We are here to help! If you have any questions about heuristic play or setting up your space, please contact us and we'll be happy to help you out!