Children between 2 and 3 years of age begin to enjoy being near others and participating in the same activity. Although they are still very self-centred and are usually unable to share or talk together effectively, they may imitate and play in the same manner as a child nearby. The children are not playing together.
Two 2-year-olds at the dough table may both be squeezing and poking the dough but not interacting together.
This is called parallel play.
Older children may also choose to play side-by-side in parallel play, even though they have the skills to play together.
To set up for parallel play you would provide activities where small groups of children can work in the same or similar play activities independently.