Imaginative play

Twos waterplay

Messing about in boats

"Nice? It's the only thing," said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leaned forward for his stroke. "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

- Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

An afternoon at the park with a two-year-old is not exactly relaxing, but it’s fun. What about those summer afternoons when it’s just slightly too cool to get wet, but warm enough to take off your shirt and mess about in a boat? When you are two, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the boat is floating or not. In fact, when it’s on the grass you don’t need to sit still, and you can climb in and out as often as you like.

“After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.” (also from Wind in the Willows)

imagination for breakfast

Imagination for breakfast

Roger, just two, has never been very interested in breakfast, although he loves his lunch. His flights of fancy during breakfast intrigue his parents, when they’re not worrying about how he’ll get through the first couple hours of nursery. He sets his fork on its side, “A gate!” He turns his cup upside down, “I could sit on it!” He walks his half-eaten bread across the table, “A rooster! No, a horsie!"

Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Is it also more important than breakfast?

For more on open-ended play request our free resource I made a unicorn.

Two-year-old pushing milk truck

50 years and still rolling

At the end of the year, people like to look back and see how far they have come and where they are going.


If you visited our display room at Community Playthings this year, you may have seen this little truck. We found it still at work in a nursery in London, which had bought it from us over 50 years ago. How do we know? In 1964 we changed our logo, and the brand underneath the truck predates this change. In more recent years we added a driver in the cab, but otherwise the design remains the same.


Roger, who is two years old, likes to use his truck to take the milk bottle back to the fridge after meals.


You can purchase a small truck from us today, and it will also roll into the next generation.

Block cello

"Too exciting not to talk!"

I visited a London primary school that had set up a "block play room", and was fascinated by the dramatic improvement in communication and social skills the teachers described. One girl, en elective mute, began talking to her teachers as she played with blocks. Another child talked at home, but not at school - until the block play sessions began. "It's too exciting not to talk!" he explained.

Early years experts have noted the connection between block play and language development. It's not surprising. Blocks are so open-ended, children often have to verbally explain representation (that's my cello, not a bulldozer), not to mention the planning, collaboration, and "what-if" conversations inherent in block play.

Right now, as nurseries consider how to use their EYPP funding, many are looking to improve language skills. Why not invest in blocks?

Little Owls

Boosting communication and language skills

How often do you tune in to the happy babble of children absorbed in play? It is delightful to listen to them verbalise and share their ideas. At the same time they learn new words, ideas and skills from each other.

Little Owls, a nursery in Cambridgeshire, has been piloting the Early Years Pupil Premium since January. Manager Deborah Parfitt explains how the physical environment impacts communication skills: "If we raise the language skills of our Early Years Pupil Premium children, then other things tick better for them. When we set up the areas within the room, we looked at them from a language point of view. We created quiet spaces and places where children can talk."

See the Little Owls case study here.

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