Play World Australia 2019: An Exhibition of FUN!

Pretty soon, you are going to be bombarded with toy reviews and gift ideas as we lead up to {insert end of year celebration of Christmas or something similar here}. We here at GeekMom try to make it easy for you; we are all parents like you and we know how much a complete pain in the posterior this can be. For me, the biggest problem I face is the balance between toys the kids will love and somehow encouraging some organic play. To be honest, I was not looking for another Toy Sale or Toy Fair to give me ideas. I wanted to see how the kids would play. Because PLAY is important… nay, essential for every child. And that’s how I found Play World Australia.

Play World Australia 2019

Play World Australia

Play World Australia debuted in Sydney in 2018, and I was lucky enough to check it out. It was an event filled with toys, games, and activities to entertain the kids and inspire the parents. You see, kids don’t need a lot of inspiration; give them a little bit of space and they have the potential to create almost anything. Parents are the ones that lose their inspiration over the years. (Okay, maybe not so much the geeks…)

First and foremost, this is NOT a “Toy Fair.” It is an exhibition, but it is more like a collection of workshops brought together in a kid-centric fashion. And while, yes, that may seem chaotic to some adults, it is ideal for watching your kids and to learn how they play.

This year, Play World Australia is returning to the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour (Sydney). Presented by Nintendo and supported with guests like LEGO, Code Camp, and The Beanies, the event is perfectly timed for the local school holidays (details are below).

Why Is Play Important for Kids?

Before we jump into all of the benefits from an event like this, let’s take a minute to understand why PLAY is so important of our kids. Now, when we talk about “play” we are talking about any activity done for entertainment and enjoyment. It should be voluntary and, most of all, it should be FUN! Play is something anyone can do and we can all do it in our own way. We can do it with things (like toys or props) or on our own. There are also different types of play: physical, social, and imaginative.

Image provided by RocketComms / Play World Australia 2018

A lot of this may seem like common knowledge, but many people don’t realize all that play entails. Subsequently, they then miss the key elements of why play is so important.

Play can be a full sensory experience. That’s right—when a kid plays, they can engage any and all of their senses at once. This is how they learn about the world around them! Kids can dig into the dirt or swing through the air or jump in muddy puddles!!! Have you had a chance to watch Bluey yet? Now there is a character who plays every day and in every way! For the best way to enhance their sensory development, look at play activities which use a combination of senses. For example, drumming workshops encourage kids to listen for the rhythm and to hit the bongos for the sound. They can see their friends and family dancing along with them and even smell the natural fibers of the bongo. However, I would strongly recommend not licking the drums. You don’t need to use EVERY sense ALL of the time.

Play can be creative. Child driven play encourages their problem-solving skills, often creating massive scenarios or entire worlds around them. The more imaginative the play, the more they learn to think through possibilities and find new solutions or “paths” in their play. It also helps to encourage their empathy, being able to see different views. This can enhance a child’s confidence and resilience.

Image provided by RocketComms / Play World Australia 2018

Play develops cognitive skills. While they are playing, kids are watching and learning about their “play.” They are paying attention to rules and expectations, remembering details, reasoning, and negotiating for changes. These are some fine decision-making skills that are essential for later in life.

Play is good for your mental health. When we play, we feel good… well, mostly. I don’t think anyone feels good playing Monopoly, so let’s just ignore that one. Play can promote lots of feel-good vibes, which in turn boost your mood and help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Active play is first and foremost the preferred method and is the style most likely to encourage the endorphins to make us healthy and strong. However, studies are showing moderate passive play can also be beneficial, particularly in pain management and mental health care. (For more discussion on how computer games can help with mental health, read GeekDad Rory’s article here.)  The important part to remember is it needs to be fun and it needs to be shared across all types of activity.

Before you start looking at the next greatest toy for your kids, take a minute to think about how they are going to play with it. Think about how they will interact, how they will benefit, and what attracts them to it. Most toys are awesome and can be a great launchpad on to amazing play, be it LEGO or coding robots or making your own flower crown. This is where I think Play World Australia is a fantastic opportunity to show how “play” fits around our kids’ creativity and imagination. Give them the launchpad and see where it takes them. Based on the success of the Sydney event, I would love to see more events like this all around the world.

EVENT DETAILS:

Where: International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia
When: Saturday, October 5, 2019 and Sunday, October 6, 2019
Time: 9am to 5pm each day
Tickets:
Kids 4 to 12-years-old  = $19.95 online / $30 at the door
General Admission (13+) =  $24.96 online / $35 at the door
Tiny Tots 0 to 3-years-old = Free

Family Ticket (2A + 2K) $69.95 / $105 at the door

Please note: Workshops on the day are an additional $10 each.

For more details, check out the Play World Australia website here.

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