Play and learning blog

girl stroking a rabbit

Why children need outside time (and lots of it)

“The more I think about ways to support children in growing into productive, happy and kind individuals, the more I realize that time outdoors may be the missing ingredient.” writes Lauren Maples. “Spending unstructured time in nature opens a world of wonder and awe.”

Time in nature is not just a luxury; it’s a very important educational platform which every teacher and parent should embrace. How and where should you begin? Read more.


teacher reading a story to a group of toddlers

Something to talk about

“I’m Mopsy,” says Mia, hopping around the room. “What does ‘don’t get into mischief’ mean?” At four she loves Beatrix Potter. The stories are simple, yet they suddenly present new words:

Peter gave himself up for lost, and shed big tears; but his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows, who flew to him in great excitement, and implored him to exert himself. –The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Books give children something to talk about. “When you come across a word children might not be familiar with, take a moment to talk about it.” writes Jennifer Fiechtner. This is “an important vocabulary building exercise, and it helps you tune into their interests as you choose your next books.” Read the article for language development strategies.


PS. Mopsy, in case you forgot, is one of Peter Rabbit’s good little bunny-sisters.

child and teacher playing clapping game together

Learning through music

Grant, five months old, attends a nursery where the staff and children love to sing. One day his key worker lost her voice, and she noticed that Grant was fussy and discontented.

“We have all experienced crying, fussy, or sick children in our care who become calm when quality instrumental music is played. They are listening!” writes Elizabeth Carlton, music consultant at High/Scope Educational Research Foundation.

“If we sing to our three- and four-year-olds, we will probably be asked to sing the song again…and again. Many listening experiences during the first two years of life are necessary before children actually sing or talk with us…Songs, instruments, and instrumental music are wonderful ways to develop children’s listening skills and awareness of different words and musical pitches.” Read the article


STEAM with Block play

tech-nol-o-gy  [tek-nol-uh-jee]   
1. The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.
2. Machinery and devices developed from scientific knowledge.
3. The branch of knowledge dealing with engineering or applied sciences. (Oxford Dictionary)


Educators recognise that a balance is needed between digital learning and practical experience, and hands-on experimentation often leads to complicated engineering and "machinery developed from scientific knowledge”. Equipment that is durable, modular and fosters curiosity and imagination supports STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths). If this is so, block play is at the foundation of technology.


Take a look at this steam engine built out of Unit blocks by two five year old boys. It makes you wonder what they will be building in 20 years! 
A child playing with blocks and pinecones

More than just a theory

Toys and tinsel cluttered the shelves and lay strewn on the floor. Four-year-old Mia and three-year-old Roger were at odds with each other, grabbing and arguing.  Suddenly a collection of shells, forgotten since our last trip to the sea, found its way into Mia’s hands. Peace reigned as she and Roger began to decorate a chair with the shells and when they ran out of shells, they used pinecones—after all who ‘owns’ the things of nature?

Nature offers a wide assortment of loose parts that are captivatingly simple and empowering. Although educators have always known the great play value in natural materials, current research now validates the tremendous learning potential they offer. Read the article.

Search or browse our learning library

Filter by topic or type