Does your toddler take great delight in lining up their toys or arranging play things (likes books, cups or trucks) into order?

If they’re anything like my son, they’ll jump at the chance to play with his “amimals” in order to create an array of interesting and varied scenes (like the one pictured below that sprung up across the driveway this past weekend!).

But is this a normal part of play?

The answer is yes! Positioning is known as one kind of play “schema”, or a pattern of repeated behaviour that allows children to explore and express developing ideas and thoughts through their play and exploration.

What does it mean? Should I encourage it?

When my son plays with his animals in this way, it’s a chance for him to learn positional language (e.g. on top, next to, in front of, around the edge, beside, behind) or words associated with size, colour or shape.

He also has opportunity to:

Problem solve (“How can we make the lion (with the dodgy leg!) stand up by himself?)

Question (“Where is the ….” or “Which one is….?)

Describe (“This one’s sleepy, rough, tall, green” etc.)

Imagine (“Mummy dinosaur wants to find her baby”, “Let’s give these dirty animals a wash”)

And develop independent choices as he makes decisions in an area he’s familiar with.

There’s a clear purpose behind each of these choices as he sets about creating displays and learns about new ways to play and interact.

Have you observed your child creating scenes like those pictured? What ways have you added language?