Play to Learn


Play is Essential

For young children, play is essential for learning. Whether they play with others or by themselves, children learn and acquire life skills by dressing up in costumes, pretending to grocery shop, driving a child-sized ambulance, and floating toy boats down a little river.

Play is Backed by Important Research

Recent studies over the past decade show that play develops creativity and social and emotional skills — not to mention healthy bodies and an active style of living. Play builds self confidence, develops problem solving abilities and lets children take ownership of their work. Unfortunately, research shows that play seems to be vanishing from children’s lives.


We’re Supporting Play & Learning During the Pandemic

During the Covid-19 closure, we’re committed to helping parents provide play and learning at home.

  • We sold or gave away thousands of dollars worth of toys, costumes, toys, books, and art supplies at our “Sales and Giveaway” event in August to dozens of families and preschool staff.
  • We offered our costume collection for sale for Halloween 2020 and beyond.
  • We’re sending out weekly “Habitot-At-Home activities through our online newsletter to over 8,000 emails.
  • We’re creating and distributing Play & Learning Activity Kits through our community partners to the most vulnerable children (foster and homeless families, those with formerly incarcerated parents, children with special needs). Kits are also available for purchase.
  • We’re developing Mini-Exhibits for pod play and learning. To inquire about availability, contact us at

Adult Role is Critical

Adults play an important role in making sure children enjoy productive play, both at Habitot and at home. Parents must be willing to tolerate a little more unpredictability, less structure and more mess. They must be willing to allow children to choose. Children will often welcome parent’s participation — as long as they don’t take over or direct the play. Undivided attention is key: parents must be willing to put down the mobile phones and be present. When asked, kids say “just sit down and have fun.” What can adults do to facilitate play?

Our Exhibits Let Children Choose

At Habitot, we embrace the sometimes untidy business of unstructured play by providing a safe and contained place for it. Imaginative, intimate exhibit areas allow young children to choose their own play, to decide how long or how little they will play in each area. Exhibits are multisensory and are thoughtfully designed to encourage children to interact socially — like two steering wheels on most pretend vehicles and curvy edges on the waterplay tables so that children can be really close. The diversity of children at Habitot provides opportunities for interacting, planning together, negotiating, and for taking on and sharing roles in dramatic play, all critical skills in school and in life. There are no rules for how to use the many loose parts. Children often take fruits and vegetables from the Little Grocery Store into the Rocketship exhibit — evidence of two-year olds planning ahead for eating on their space voyage — or to float down the River Ramp — a classic experiment in cause and effect.