Play and learning blog

a boy and girl creating building an arch unit blocks

Play – a right of childhood

“Play is fundamental to human creativity and well-being.…the structure of values, beliefs and attitudes that we develop in the early years creates the strong and permanent roots that will underpin our whole lives,” writes Wendy Ellyatt, founder and CEO of the Save Childhood Movement.

“The core characteristics of childhood are curiosity, playfulness, wonder and joy.” It is up to us to create an environment which encourages and nurtures these characteristics. Read the article

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two reception aged children experimenting with water flow on the outlast cascade

The outdoor waterplay system

There’s something about manipulating the movement of water that is irresistible. Which child hasn’t discovered the thrill of sticking their thumb under a tap to create a dramatic and drenching spray of water? It is an opportunity to explore, experiment, and observe – science at its best!

Community Playthings set out to discover how we could enable every setting to provide this type of play – even in urban locations with limited outdoor space. Here, finally, we can show you our new Outlast water play system – operated by a group of industrious little engineers completely absorbed in their play and exploration. Get ready for a waterfall! Watch now.

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two children building a structure with outlast blocks

Why we must return to kindergarten

Two centuries ago, Friedrich Froebel combined the German words for “children” and “garden” to illustrate his revolutionary approach to early childhood education – kindergarten. He envisioned a fertile environment where young children blossom and grow into creative, free-thinking individuals. Through meticulous observations he arrived at the conviction that a child’s natural play and exploration is the primary mode for learning.

Often, this “children’s garden” becomes the bottom rung on a pressure-packed, test-driven, educational ladder. How can play be restored to this important chapter of a child’s life? For some thoughts from US educators, read this article.

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nursery aged boy building with unit blocks

Open Mathematics, open minds

‘Imaginary play helps children to think beyond the literal, they can use a chair to be a pirate ship, even though the chair does not resemble a ship…play is crucial to children’s development of abstract concepts like mathematics,’ writes Elizabeth Carruthers, who has developed the concept of Open Mathematics to help young children understand maths.

Open Mathematics is ‘not neat and tidy.’ It draws on children’s interests and makes maths relevant to their play. ‘It involves deep-level learning and sometimes the chaos of thinking, refining and finding new mathematical ideas.’ Read the article.


keilhau germany

200th Anniversary Celebration of the Keilhau School

The school in Keilhau will celebrate its 200 year anniversary this year. On 22 April visitors to the Froebel school will have the rare opportunity to visit and tour the school grounds, attend workshops, (both English and German) and experience a day in the place where Froebel was free to put his educational theories into practice. It is still possible to register to take part in this unique day! See more Information about the event. Speakers include Tina Bruce, Jane Read, Stella Louis and Pete Moorhouse from the UK, as well as representatives from the International Froebel Society, Deutschland.

Register online at or email

About the school
Where are children truly still able to experience a childhood? One of the secret havens is Keilhau - a tiny village in Thuringia, Germany where the well-known educator, Friedrich Froebel, founded a school in 1817. He worked to provide children with the tools to become “free-thinking, independent people,” uninhibited by the whims of fashion, society and the stifling spirit of the age. Froebel believed that formal education should not be separated from the rest of a child’s learning: “school and life should become one!”

Unlike other initiatives started by the father of the modern Kindergarten, the school in Keilhau has not been turned into a museum, and remains a living memorial to Froebel’s work and vision. It continues to run based on his principles and ideas: education through example and love. Creative, imaginative and explorative childhood is still to be found here in the school and the surrounding woods and mountains.

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