Play-Based Learning: What is it? – Creative Sand

Play-Based Learning: What is it?

If you've ever been interested about what play-based learning is all about, here is an article from our friend Megan Gourley from Play Based Life (Digital Resources for Learning) who is sharing her knowledge on this subject. 

What is play-based learning?

Well, it is exactly as it sounds… play-based learning is essentially free play for children which promotes academic, socio-emotional and cognitive development as part of a child-centred educational approach.

Educators can become involved in play-based learning too, this is referred to as ‘guided play’. In this way, educators will enhance a child’s exploration and learning through guidance, while being careful not to be invasive within the play scenarios.

Play-based learning has been described as developmentally appropriate learning for young children, letting them learn at their own pace through the natural process of play.

A play-based learning environment will include many stimulating opportunities for play such as dramatic play props and dress-up clothes, blocks, toys, loose parts materials, art materials, musical instruments, books, and writing implements. The emphasis is put on items that promote open-ended play through experimentation and an imaginative expression of ideas – these are key to a child’s understanding of their world.

Children learn so much through play.

It allows them to explore, discover, negotiate, take risks, create meaning and solve problems, which are valuable for developing literacy, numeracy and social skills.

Play-based learning focuses on a child’s natural sense of inquiry and discovery through hands-on exploration of the world around them. Educators can enhance these opportunities through teaching and learning within the play experiences that children are interested in and naturally drawn to, making it more likely they will stay engaged with a particular experience.

For this to be successful, it is important that an educator know each individual child really well, to know what they are interested in and how each child learns best.

An example of play-based learning might be a parent and child enjoying a puzzle together as a way to interact and have fun – they might talk about ways to fit the pieces together (border matching).

An educator would use this as an opportunity to work with children to explore concepts such as pattern-matching, problem-solving, numerical and mathematical concepts such as part/whole and shape, along with language skills too. It’s also an opportunity to help children develop self-confidence and self-esteem.

You see, play-based learning is purposeful and also intentional. Educators carefully and deliberately plan play-based experiences to help children learn about educational concepts involved in literacy, numeracy, technology, social skills and more in a way that’s meaningful and enjoyable to them.

If you'd like more information about Play Based Learning check Megan's website:


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