Learning Through Play
Learning Through Play



Can children learn through play? YES, they most certainly can! Here at Great Little Trading Co. we’re big believers in the power of play. Children learn and develop all sorts of new skills through play; the kids’ toys we design do much more than simply entertain children, they nurture their physical and mental development.

Encouraging learning through play in the early years will equip your child with the skills they need for the big wide world. Rather than telling children about the world we live in, it’s important to show them how things work and get them involved in learning through fun, hands-on creative play.

Here’s the lowdown on how children learn through play and the best toys for the job.

Collage of children playing with table top role play toys



Eyes that recognise the rainbow and hands that can grip a pencil are nurtured by toys that help encourage motor skills and colour recognition. Before you pop a pencil in a child’s hand, those little fingers should explore how to dig, twist, pinch, press, and pull a variety of different materials.

Take our Lolly & Scoop Ice Cream Shop, with 25 wooden accessories included in the set, there’s always something to pick up. Whether they’re scooping up a dollop of strawberry flavoured ice cream or rearranging the lolly display, all the gripping, pointing, and choosing involved is brilliant for strengthening little hands and cementing visual skills.

Budding horticulturalists will love to dig, plant, and water their own allotment with our Growing Garden Wooden Toy. Stocked with the tools they need to nurture their plot, it’s ideal for challenging their dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Children can also match up the seed markers with the coordinating colours of the fruit, veg, and flowers provided.

Both pretend play sets are also a fun way to practise their numeracy skills. Ask your little gardener to count their crops and don’t let your ice cream vendor short-change you!


Babies and children learn from watching their parents and the people around them; role play toys provide a wonderful opportunity for kids to copy this behaviour and learn through play with child-sized props.

Not only does role play increase a child’s knowledge of the everyday world, but it also helps develop their imagination and social skills. From ‘fixing’ the wheels on their doll’s pram with their very own tools for the job to rustling up a feast for Granny using their play kitchen – these fun, pretend play activities will exercise their imagination, get them chatting, and encourage them to use their problem-solving skills.

As they interact with grown-ups and their peers through play, they’ll learn to negotiate group dynamics, collaborate, compromise, deal with others’ feelings, and share. The social skills they’ll pick up while learning through play are crucial to help prepare them for life at school.  

Play kitchens & food


When it comes to the best toys to encourage talking, role play toys are yet again a go-to for learning through play in the early years.

As children draw upon their memory to recreate real-life scenarios, like “the time mummy forgot her purse at the shops” or “when the doctor put the bandage on my leg”, their language skills will be put to the test as they use and expand upon words they’ve heard others saying.

Playing doctors with our Ambulance Doctor’s Set will also challenge their numeracy and problem-solving skills, as well as help them develop empathy and listening skills as they think up ways to treat different maladies, take readings on the thermometer, and care for their patients.

Young girl playing with Ambulance Toy Set


Toys that put your child in the driver’s seat and encourage independent play are the best tools for valuable learning through play.

Our Star Beans Coffee Shop, like many of our tabletop toys, is the perfect size to leave on display everyday so it can be easily accessed by children. As they serve up cappuccinos and the specials of the day – whether that be rainbow or worm croissants – they’ll get the chance to experiment with their menu and build their confidence as they play independently or with friends or siblings.

Role play also extends beyond shops, cafes, and doctor’s surgeries. Let them be a superhero, tame a dinosaur, hunt for treasure, or fly to the moon with a treasure trove of fancy dress costumes! Our range of children’s dressing up rails help keep their capes, crowns, gowns, and tails organised and easy to reach. As they explore a whole host of characters and personalities, children can dream big and in turn grow their confidence and self-esteem.

And let’s not forget art & creative play! Time spent with a pencil or paint brush in hand nurtures imagination, self-expression, and confidence. After all, “Look what I made!” leads to “Wow, look what I can do!”

Collage of children playing with various GLTC role play toys



Try not to judge or direct their play too much – it’s not your game! With engaging, open-ended toys at their fingertips (plus a sprinkling of imagination), children have all they need to experiment, make their own rules, take risks, and showcase their ideas.

Our range of inspiring wooden toys are designed to help parents provide the framework for learning through play yet allow little ones to fill in the gaps by themselves.

To kick-start the creative play, we’ve created some free home learning & play printables to team up with our play sets. These activity packs include things like open and closed signs, name badges, menus, and lots more to ignite their imagination and promote learning through play.