Younger children gain a lot of information about their bodies through big body play. For example, when a mother kisses or massages her baby’s body, her baby learns about where his body ends and the space around him begins. He also learns how different types of touch feel and the names for those feelings.
When a toddler jumps into her dad’s lap, or she runs to hug a friend, she learns how to control and regulate her body movements. She also learns that she should adapt the intensity of her movements in relation to another person. For example, she might run to hug her friend with less force than she uses to jump into her dad’s lap.
When children enjoy big body play they can also build both verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Through big body play, they learn to correctly interpret nonverbal gestures, like when my friend puts her hand up it means I should stop but if she smiles it means I can keep going. Children will apply this skill throughout their lives in different social situations.
When children take turns jumping off a tree stump they practice taking turns.
And, because most children enjoy the play so much, they learn how to compromise. They might let other children go first and be strongest so that the play can continue. Children are also calmer for longer periods of time following very rowdy play. Greater learning is likely during these calm, focused periods. "
Read more: http://families.naeyc.org/learning-and-development/child-development/what-big-body-play-and-why-it-important