When Play Is The Highest Form Of Research


So, recently, I did a little social experiment with my boys.

I removed 80% of all the toys lying around the house just to see how the boys adapt to having little toys.

Before that were tonnes of toys lying around in every corner, 5-6 Montessori activities on their shelves, a pile of art stuff for them to create…

Perhaps it’s a personality issue here. I personally love minimalism and as much as I try to implement Montessori, clutter crept its way into our home. Oh yes, that Montessori development toy that I absolutely need for my boys’ development? Get it. The other one that says helps to hone their fine motor skills? Get it. Trays for activities? Get it. Should I leave puzzles out for them too? What if they don’t ever get to play any of those educational toys that develop their brains, muscles, eye coordination, superhuman brain powers?

Hence the purging began.

Any toy that wasn’t touched for at least a week was either tossed or kept in storage.

It has been a month since.

The results were astonishing.

First, my house was A LOT neater. Not showroom quality but comparatively neater.

Second, the kids got more creative. The entire house became their playground. They hid under laundry racks, corners, behind curtains. They made musical instruments out of kitchen items. They observed more around the house. For instance, Bubs was staring out the window one cold rainy day out of boredom & discovered condensation. He spent the next 30 minutes playing by the window, blowing his warm breath on the cold windows and drawing on the condensed fog.

Pillows, blankets & chairs became forts.

Imagination allowed Bub to create his own amazing gun or cannon using just an arm & personal sound effects.

Both of them had a couple of cardboard boxes which they played with every day. The possibilities with the boxes were endless.



The kitchen became the next best place for play resources. I came to realise its a wealth of sensory discovery. Each time I cook, the boys learn something new. Egg shells, seafood, poultry, the sensation of heat & cold, doing the dishes, smelling spices, textures of various food… They get to experience that every single time I let them into the kitchen with me.



They did chores together. Simple chores like mopping the floor (using magic clean mop), vacuuming, wiping spills & packing away their toys. The Little One even helps press a button to get the washing machine started during laundry time. His all-time favourite activity.


All the great early childhood educators agree that outdoors does amazing things to children. Nature is the best teacher for them. (William Wordsworth) It invokes their curiosity, sense of wonder, knowledge, wisdom, emotions & hands-on experience. Personally, outdoors are amazing in calming down my two cranky boys. Something magical about the air, the sun, the greenery… when they get crazy in the house, I’ll drop what I’m doing and take them out. Usually to the park, rain or shine.

After 5 years of playing with my children, I wholly agree with Maria Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf Steiner that essentially, children learn best through play and we have to trust that they learn in that way much better than we (as adults) can ever teach them.


“All play is associated with intense thought activity and rapid intellectual growth.

The highest form of research is essentially play. Einstein is quoted as saying, “The desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of a vague play with basic ideas. This combinatory or associative play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought” ”

N. V. Scarfe







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