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Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Homeschooler -

Why Imaginative Play?

At Mona Melisa Designs, we are on a mission to bring back imaginative, self-directed play to homes and schools.

Classic researchers, such as Jean Piaget, Sigmund Freud, and Lev Vygotsky emphasized the importance of play and realized that civilization and the world as we know it could not/would not exist without play. Children have a lifetime to sit in front of a computer and do worksheets. They have one chance in a lifetime to be a little child and play joyfully and spontaneously!

Due to many factors, including more rigorous academic schooling, technology such as televisions, computer and video games, and economic factors in schools, imaginative play has been greatly reduced and hampered in the past decade. Children have less time to play on their own and sadly, they are losing the ability to play on their own, without the aid of some sort of audio or visual stimulation.

The more we know about play, the more you can align it to standards and what is best for children.


Brain researchers, pediatricians, educators, child psychologists, and theorists all agree that we must protect and preserve PLAY! Study after study reports that children from play-based classes excelled in reading, math, and social and emotional adjustments. They also seemed to fare better as adults in work. (Crisis in Kindergarten)

Social Development
Play develops the executive function. (impulse control, task initiation, delayed gratification)
When children play in groups they learn to share, communicate, cooperate, and collaborate. These are all 21st Century Skills!
Without play there are more behavior problems in the classroom. This is especially true for boys because sedentary learning is more difficult for them.
Children can learn to play different roles and practice life skills.
Play is essential for building relationships with parents, teachers, and friends.
Play helps children adjust to school.
Children can learn to solve their own problems through play.

Emotional Development

Play builds self-confidence.
Play provides children with the opportunity to master their world.
Play releases dopamine which makes children happy. It is an antidote for depression.
Children tell us things through their play because it serves as a bridge between fantasy and reality.
Play can relieve stress and help children manage their emotions.
Children can express new insights and be creative through play.
Play nurtures children’s individual talents and interests.
When playing children learn to experiment and take risks.
Children can develop self-help skills and independence when they play

Physical Development
Physical play builds healthy bodies and reduces the risk of obesity.
Play develops large motor skills as well as small motor skills.
Unstructured outdoor play can reduce ADHD and even improve test scores.
Cognitive Development
Through play children learn to understand the world.
Play develops language skills and vocabulary.
Play allows children to plan and make decisions.
Block building lays the groundwork for mathematical thinking.


Look for open ended toys - The more ways you can play with a toy, the more open-ended -- and better -- the toy is. Open-ended toys encourage pretend play, which uses and stretches creativity and imagination. There's no right or wrong to the play, the toy is working in the service of the child, not the other way around. Plus, you get your best value for your toy dollar if a toy has many ways to be played with.

Stay away from "scripted" toys. Any toy that's tied to a video, TV show, cartoon, even to a book, comes with a script, and the child is unwittingly locked into the story line. To her way of thinking, there is only one "right" way to play with the toy, and that's the script. So she can't use the toy in any other way and doesn't grow, learn or -- really -- enjoy the toy. These toys tend to be the ones that are discarded first because they're boring.

“A toy that nurtures creative play is ninety percent child and only ten percent toy,” says Susan Linn, Harvard psychologist and author of The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World. “Play is useful for children, and engaging and exciting for children, when they drive the play, when they’re in charge of what’s going to happen in the play,” says Linn.

At Mona MELisa Designs, when we design an interactive wall play set, PEEL, PLAY & LEARN wall play set or On-the-Go travel toy, we do so with imagination and play at the forefront of our minds. Our mix and match pieces and durable materials allow for continuous thought, creativity and pretend play. Try one of our products and we are sure you will appreciate the quality and opportunities to create!!