Exploratory play is when children use their senses of smell, taste and touch to explore and discover the texture and function of things around them. This form of play allows them to comprehend new experiences.
Exploratory play is one of the earliest forms of play and it is strongly linked to a child's development. This type of play is very physical during infancy as babies use their whole bodies to explore their new environment. Children encouraged to freely explore are likely to continue using exploration as a way of learning more about the environment around them. They become confident, competent learners who make discoveries and ask questions.
For example, children learn about the various characteristics of shapes as they build with blocks; this goes on to become a key learning strategy for understanding geometry and other mathematical concepts like volume, weight, length, patterns and numbers.
Parents can foster exploratory play by providing several opportunities for this type of play during each session, including a wide range of natural resources during play time, and actively encouraging their children to investigate and experiment with the available resources. Other forms of play include dramatic play, fantasy play, physical play, games with rules and manipulative play.