Researchers have identified various categories of play—physical, constructive, imaginative, dramatic, and games with rules—all of which help children develop in three domains: physically, socially and emotionally and cognitively:
Imaginative play, such as drawing, dancing, or playing with water, lays the foundations for creativity, allowing kids to express feelings, communicate, and experiment with reality.
Building with blocks or cardboard develops fine motor skills. It also helps kids to develop resilience, or grit (those block towers do fall down) and start reasoning and problem-solving (“How do I build a tower that does not fall down?”). Chasing, hiding, jumping and wrestling build gross motor skills, the basis for which will be used to crawl and walk and run, not to mention persevere and think (exercise helps with memory consolidation). Dramatic play (such as dressing up, role play, puppets, and storytelling) helps children with emotional regulation and critical relationship skills, including empathy, cooperation, and negotiation.
Great info via qz.com