Enclosing/Enveloping Play Pattern

Have you noticed your little one has an urge to put things inside an enclosure or container of some kind? Perhaps they put toy animals inside “fences” or bags, build boundaries or forts with blocks and fill them with objects or wrap things up. If this sounds like a pattern of play your child is exploring, they are likely experiencing a fascination with Enclosing/Enveloping.

Children who are learning through Enclosing/Enveloping tend to join lines or build structures or cover things with different materials to form boundaries and enclosures. These could be any shape and could be made with string, blocks, or even their food! When playing with paints, pens or crayons, they make boundaries that surround other smaller drawings, or they may fill the inside completely with a different colour, or paint over the whole sheet of paper. They may like to put toys inside things, or put themselves inside structures or even small spaces.

You can help stimulate your child’s cognitive growth by supporting their Enclosing/Enveloping fascination! Support their play by providing them with ribbon, string and stackable toys (like blocks or Lego Duplo) to create boundaries, or with materials such as tents and boxes or sheets to make forts, or wearing onesies/dress ups.

The following are constructive activity ideas to help support your little one’s growth through play:

  • During arts and crafts time, use different items to make borders — paper towel tubes, string, and twigs are some good options
  • Use old shoe boxes to create homes/forts/caves for your little one’s smaller toys
  • Glue ice block sticks together, creating fences or walls to enclose toy animals
  • Provide some large boxes or sheets to make forts

When talking to your little one, use words that link with their Enclosing fascination, like inside, outside, around, fence, boundary, border, and surrounding to help encourage their early language, literacy and vocabulary. Encourage your little one to explain their train of thought by asking them about their patterns of play; “That looks like fun, tell me about your game…”

If you’d like to learn more about different patterns of play (your child may be learning through more than just one), check them out below and discover loads of fun ways to support your child’s learning.

Have fun playing and learning together!