What is a Play-based Curriculum? (2024)

Play-based Preschool Curriculum

In a play-based or child-centered preschool program, children are able to choose activities based on the current interests. Learning activities such as creative arts, literacy, numeracy, social studies, science, etc. are presented to children through play. Educators encourage children to play, facilitating both social and emotional skills along the way. It often looks like children are “just playing”, but in fact, they are learning important educational, social, emotional, and life skills through the process of play.

Play enhances children’s physical, social/emotional, and creative growth and development. It is the primary means by which children explore their world and begin to make sense of the world around them. Without play, it is difficulty for a child to understand how the world functions and how they can function in it.

It is evident that play has a major role in the cognitive development of the child, but what about meeting those important learning objectives and goals? Through play, children actively post problems, explore solutions, and begin to develop a real understanding of how things function in the world around them. Educators can support this play-based philosophy by offering and encouraging the engagement in play-based activities centered around academic areas that will allow for cognitive development as well as activities that will promote social and emotional learning.

What Does a Play-based Classroom Look Like?

A play-based learning environment is generally set up into sections. There are typically sections for science, literacy, writing, reading, dramatic play, blocks and building, and social studies. These areas of learning will then incorporate play-based materials and activities that the children will find engaging and fun. The learning environment will be inspiring, stimulating, and nurturing, and it will welcome all children of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. The classroom will be a place that children can feel safe to learn, play and expore. It will be organized in a way that supports the child’s social and emotional development as well as cognitive learning.

What is a Play-based Curriculum? (2024)


What is meant by a play based curriculum? ›

A play-based curriculum is informed by children's interests and needs (as they emerge). The teacher has fixed learning goals, but these are achieved holistically, responsively and flexibly as the children grow and develop (Van Oers and Duikers, 2013).

What is an example of play-based learning? ›

Whether it is playing dress ups, constructing grand designs with building blocks, singing songs, telling stories, playing with containers or having fun outside with sand and water – play can be built into everyday routines and activities. Let your children see you having fun!

What is an example of a play generated curriculum? ›

Play-based curriculum engages all senses in learning. For example, children may hear stories and sing songs about farm animals, then collaborate with others playing imaginary games.

What is the play based method of teaching? ›

Play based learning refers to a holistic approach to learning and development. Through play, children learn valuable skills that support their social, physical and cognitive development. Through engaging with others, objects and symbols, children learn to make sense of the world around them.

Is Montessori a play-based curriculum? ›

Open-Ended Play. One of the key differences between a Montessori education and one received at most other schools is the approach to play. Simply put, the Montessori approach to play is learning skills that have a practical application…in a fun way.

What is a key feature of a play-based approach? ›

Elements of play-based learning

Enjoyable: Play is enjoyable for the child. This emotional aspect is important. There may be some frustrations or disagreements during play but overall it's pleasurable. Unstructured: A child has ample time to explore and discover during play.

What is a play-based lesson plan? ›

Last updated on November 21, 2023. Play-based learning is a powerful approach that has gained significant recognition in early education programs. Instead of relying solely on traditional teaching methods, play-based learning embraces the innate curiosity and creativity of children to foster their development.

What are play-based strategies? ›

In play-based learning, teachers take an active role as intentional planners, observers and guides. Play-based learning maintains the joy of free play while allowing children to connect authentically with content.

What is the difference between play and play-based learning? ›

Play vs Play-based Learning

Play-based learning includes a greater integration of adult support and more intentionality in the planning for play contexts. The most effective play-based learning occurs when the educator is there to facilitate and scaffold learning.

How to create a play-based curriculum? ›

Designing a play-based curriculum

Creating a play-based preschool curriculum involves mapping out a framework that supports various types of play, such as sensory play, imaginative play, and physical play, and then opening up the space to let children take the lead.

Is creative curriculum a play-based curriculum? ›

The Creative Curriculum for Preschool empowers children to be confident, creative, and caring learners through play-based, hands-on investigations—a research-based approach that incorporates language, literacy, and mathematics throughout the day.

Is Reggio Emilia play-based? ›

Likewise, at Reggio Emilia Early Learning Centres, there is a focus on play-based learning and an understanding of how it can effectively support a child's cognitive, social and physical development.

What is play-based learning examples? ›

A play based environment also enhances the development of your child's fine motor skills. Spending their time running, throwing balls, playing sports, and colouring significantly improves their core strength, hand-eye coordination and balance.

How to plan play-based learning? ›

Key aspects to consider include:
  1. Cultivating environments that encourage and support children to develop their language, literacy and mathematical knowledge and understanding through play.
  2. Considering the balance between child-initiated play and more structured activities to meet the learning needs of your children.

How to incorporate play-based learning in the classroom? ›

The researchers offer five ways educators can support playful learning in their classrooms:
  1. Empower students to guide their own learning. ...
  2. Create a culture of collaborative learning together. ...
  3. Encourage risk-taking and experimentation. ...
  4. Promote imaginative thinking. ...
  5. Accept the different emotions that play can create.
May 17, 2023

What is the playwork curriculum? ›

The Playwork Curriculum suggests that the essential experiences available to children fall into the following categories - The Elements (Fire, Water, Air, Earth), Identity, Concepts and The Senses. Children need direct and first hand experience of all four elements.

What is the purpose of play-based learning? ›

Teachers and researchers alike view the value of this type of play to be social, emotional, and developmental; children gain skills by negotiating relationships and conflicts with peers and by role-playing novel situations.

How to explain play-based learning to parents? ›

Children are naturally curious and drawn to play, and by providing a play-based approach, we are able to focus on their social learning and allow them the time and space to build relationships at their own pace. With time, children will become engaged in play and develop strong social connections.

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