Imaginative play

block play

Bring back the blocks!

For many young children, hands-on, sensory experiences with three-dimensional objects have been replaced by two-dimensional screens and worksheets. This is detrimental to their learning.

 

With all the evidence linking good spatial skills with future achievement in all STEM areas, we must find a way to bring back the blocks. “I am more convinced than ever that blocks are one of the most essential materials for the early childhood classroom,” writes Rosanne Regan Hansel. Read more.

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Heuristic play

What is heuristic play?

According to the Oxford dictionary, “heuristic” means helping to find out or discover; proceeding by trial and error. It stems from the same root as Eureka – “I found it!”

In the early years classic, People under Three, Elinor Goldschmied and Sonia Jackson coined the term heuristic play, to explain how to provide a more structured opportunity for this kind of activity. Heuristic play “consists of offering a group of children, for a defined period of time in a controlled environment, a large number of different kinds of objects and receptacles with which they play freely without adult intervention”. It is particularly useful for children in their second year who often seem unwilling to engage in any activity for more than a few minutes.

Interested in running heuristic play sessions in your setting? Read this.

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girl looking bored

Making room for creativity

Unstructured time gives children the opportunity to practice problem solving and to develop motivational and creative skills that they will need later in life. Adults need to resist the temptation to provide a constant barrage of stimulation and entertainment for children. It’s okay to be bored.

 

Is there time for constructive boredom in your classroom? Read the article.

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little boy holding flowers for teacher to smell

From the basics to beyond!

The phrase “back to basics” is often heard in our field. However, a more motivational approach for teachers would be “toward the basics and beyond!”

 

“The kinds of traditional play that children have done naturally for generations is still at the foundation of the work that we do with children,” writes Deborah Murphy. “We have the wisdom of the sages through the ages, but we also have the wisdom of the children right here, right now.”

 

“‘Teacher! Look!’ they say to us. It is good advice. Let’s watch and appreciate their deep engagement, singular focus, and creative innovation. We often discuss modelling behaviour for children. What about flipping that paradigm?” Read more.

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little girl doing role play under an Outlast table with flowie outdoors

Making sense of the world through role play

“The very existence of youth is due in part to the necessity for play; the animal does not play because it is young, it has a period of youth because it must play.” – Karl Groos, German biologist 1861-1946

 

Because children, like baby animals, learn best through play, it is in our best interest to create enabling environments which will ensure that their play naturally fulfils the EYFS learning and development requirements. Here's how role play can incorporate all seven areas of learning and development.

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