Active play

girl looking through outlast block

Play: a key dynamic in early childhood development

How do we support children’s learning through play? An effective play educator “engineers learning experiences that put children in the driving seat and then gets out of the way for a while”, write Pam Mundy and Sue Egersdorff. “They (genuinely) smile a lot, provide constant reassurance, and are fun to be with.”


Read the fourth article in the “Model for living” series, which encourages and inspires us towards helping children develop a playful approach to learning and life.

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little girl climbing up stairs, active play, outdoors, physical play

The power of physical play

Children love to move. Physical play is vital to their growth as learners and helps to develop body awareness, fine motor control, concentration, perseverance and social skills.

The Power of Physical Play is a documentary film made by Siren Films in order to help adults who work with children understand the significance of physical play and its learning potential for the growing child. Watch the trailer.

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boy balancing on Community Playthings hollow blocks and plank

What's wrong with an active child?

“The teacher just informed me that my three-year-old boy isn’t the ‘perfect fit’. They say he’s too active,” the lady related over the phone. “Is there something wrong with him?”

Angela Hanscom, a paediatric occupational therapist, was shocked. “My blood boils at the notion that something is wrong with an active three-year-old boy,” she writes. “We are expecting children to sit still when they are just barely out of nappies?” Children require full body movement, risks, and challenges in order to grow into balanced, healthy, and resilient adults. How can we overcome our fears to give children the outdoor play and unrestricted freedom of movement they desperately need? As a therapist, Angela has successfully treated many children with attention, balance, and sensory issues. What is her unconventional remedy? Read the article.

a nursery aged girl playing with outlast ramps and a waterwheel

Making the most of water play

“Water is one of the basic raw materials for purposeful play. Just like sand, clay and blocks, children can use water without being constrained by the one right way to use it,” writes Sandra Crosser, Ph.D.

“Water is intriguing. It seems to draw children to explore its structure and properties. Because water is naturally fascinating, the thoughtful teacher can structure the environment and materials in the water centre to make the most of water play.” Read more.

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two children doing dramatic play in the home corner

The rules of play – developing self-control

“Mothers and fathers go to work and make the dinner, but not babies. Babies cry, while grown-ups take responsibility for caring for and calming the babies. Even fantasy characters behave according to some rules,” writes Nancy Stewart, experienced teacher, consultant, trainer and author.

“While to a casual observer it may seem that children involved in pretend play are acting totally spontaneously in ‘free play’, in fact they are imposing their own set of rules... Children who show self-restraint in following the shifting rules of the play gain the great pleasure of belonging, as they develop cooperative play with others.” Read this excerpt from Nancy's book How Children Learn – The characteristics of effective early learning.

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