40 Ways Kids Learn Through Play

Here at Discovery Gateway, our mission is to inspire children of all ages and abilities to imagine, discover, and connect with their world to make a difference. We believe that this growth happens through play. Play has been academically researched and verified as an essential component of children’s mental, physical, and emotional development. The United Nations High Commission on Human Rights even stated that play is a fundamental right of every child! To celebrate Discovery Gateway’s 40 Year Anniversary of Learning Through Play, here are 40 fun facts about play-time!

  1. Play is learning!
  2. Play comes from a natural want to understand the world.
  3. The impulse to play is as strong as the desire for food and sleep.
  4. Discovery Gateway offers more than 60,000 square feet of interactive, hands-on fun.
  5. Make-believe play is important in developing a child’s curiosity and learning how to respond in different situations.
  6. Children become more creative, perform better in school, and develop problem-solving through imaginative play.
  7. Playing, along with reading, talking, and singing are the best ways to spark children’s brain development.
  8. Children can practice their storytelling skills and exercise their imaginations at the Story Factory in Discovery Gateway! Create your own comic strip, perform an original play, and learn about social stories.
  9. There is a direct correlation between play and stress reduction.
  10. In Discovery Gateway’s Sensory Room, kids are welcome to relax and unwind while utilizing all of their senses to explore touch boxes, plasma balls, lights, and more.
  11. Play helps kids learn how to self-regulate their emotions.
  12. Free play helps preschoolers notice other people’s feelings.
  13. 20% of play involves physical activities.
  14. Kids who participate in more physical activities score better on standardized tests.
  15. Discovery Gateway’s newest exhibit, Honey Climber, will allow children to practice their gross motor skills and release energy as they climb, hop, slide, and buzz around in a life-sized beehive!
  16. Pretend play helps children as young as 3 to learn to understand the real world.
  17. Playing is spontaneous!
  18. Children become immersed in the moment while playing.
  19. Children can become so engaged with play that they lose awareness of time and space. That’s why your children can spend hours at the museum!
  20. Play helps kids learn self-control. Self-control leads to success in later years.
  21. Through play, children make their own decisions and see the consequences of their choices.
  22. Play is instinctual.
  23. Parents are the biggest supporters of their child’s learning.
  24. Playing with your child teaches them how to play appropriately with peers. Discovery Gateway
    encourages parents to participate in the play and curiosity alongside their children.
  25. At 3½ years old, children begin to share, pay attention, and communicate with others during play.
  26. In Discovery Gateway at Hatch, Waddle, and Fly in the Kids Eye View exhibit, infants and toddlers can practice their motor skills and observe other toddlers.
  27. Kids can test hypotheses about unknown objects through play and learn how they work.
  28. Discovery Gateway’s exhibits encourage children to investigate, explore, hypothesize, and work together to solve problems. Build dams and water bridges over at Water Play or race custom built cars at DG Derby!
  29. When playing, children practice divergent thinking, a skill the requires children to problem solve by considering several possible solutions – none of which are the correct answer.
  30. Pretend play is essential to children’s development and has been written about by important psychologists including Erikson, Freud, and Piaget.
  31. Active play among children has decreased by 50% over the last 40 years.
  32. Children can get their hearts pumping in Discovery Gateway’s Move It! exhibit. Move It! offers children 1,600 square feet of play space with an obstacle course, cushioned mat area, and multi-use space for jump roping and hula hooping.
  33. Play is super fun!
  34. Kids’ Eye View and Intermountain Saving Lives in Discovery Gateway provides children with
    the chance for exciting pretend play. Kids can experience what it’s like to be an emergency EMT,
    a helicopter pilot, a farmer, a cashier, or play house!
  35. Filling the role of a character allows kids to imagine what they might do or say and helps children better understand other people.
  36. Play helps children deal with stress.
  37. Currently, children play eight hours less each week than children did two decades ago.
  38. Researchers have theorized that play gives children the opportunity to work through negative feelings in a risk-free environment.
  39. On average, kids under three years old spend 3 to 4 hours a day looking at a screen. This number jumps to 7.5 hours per day by the age of eight.
  40. Discovery Gateway, formerly The Children’s Museum of Utah, was founded in 1978 by a group of parents, educators, and community leaders who believed that children learn the best through “doing.” For the last 40 years, Discovery Gateway has been committed to discovery, growth, and learning through play. Here’s to another 40 years!

If you’re interested in learning more about how your child learns through play, check out these fantastic sources!


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