Play Based Learning

Why is play important?

Children learn best when they’re having fun, and they are more likely to be having fun when they are playing. Children’s learning is optimal when they’re free to learn at their own pace and in their own way. It has previously been thought that educating children from an early age is ideal and that play has little value. Research indicates that a work-oriented, rigid approach to learning is not likely to help children develop a love of learning or provide the skills and attitude they need to be life-long learners. Play is the way in which children learn best.

What are the benefits of play?

  • Play provides opportunities to improve fine motor and gross motor skills and maintain physical health.
  • Play helps to develop imagination and creativity
  • Play provides an environment in which to practise social skills
  • Long periods of uninterrupted play build children’s concentration and the inner motivation to take responsibility for their own learning.
  • A positive sense of self is important in facilitating ongoing learning

What is play-based learning?

A play-based program does not mean that children just do what they like all day. A play-based program will look different throughout the day. At times children may play alone or with their friends. At other times children will come together as a group, listen when others are talking, follow the rules of the group and begin to take responsibility for their own actions and their environment.

What is the adult’s role within a play-based program?

Within a play-based program, the adult’s role is to guide and extend the play activities. Adults continually evaluate children’s play to discover what it is children are learning and to then help shape and extend this learning. Materials are added to play by children or adults. Adults will ask questions to extend the play. They will interact and participate with children and their play.


Nature walk and collage

This activity that encourages preschool children's "language development through group participation, questions, speculation and conversation."


  1. Paper Bags (enough for each child)
  2. A place to walk - park, garden, backyard. Make sure it is safe and that you are watching the children at all times
  3. Paper
  4. Glue
  5. Crayons (and anything else children may think to use)


Go on a nature walk. Allow the children to pick up objects from nature such as bark, grass, leaves, flowers, seeds and put them into their bags. As you walk along encourage children to talk about what they see and hear in nature. Allow them to observe and ask questions. When you return set out the art materials and let them create a collage of their nature walk.

Bean Bag Toss

Boy tossing bean bag

A great game that children will love that also enhances their hand-eye coordination.

What’s needed?

  • Place a large bucket in an open area
    Note to parents: the space should be free of anything precious or fragile, just in case something gets broken!
  • Some bean bags

What now?

If you don’t have any bean bags, you can make them easily with some old socks.

  • Find some old socks. The more colours the better!
  • Take a sock and fill it with some dried beans or rice and tie off both ends.
  • Make three or four bags

Children take turns to throw the bags into the bucket. As children get better at this activity, get them to try it from further away, throwing over arm instead of under arm, or playing with a group of children.