Play ideas

Encouraging our children to become effective learners involves us allowing them to decide what they want to learn and providing the time, space and support for them to explore, experiment, and try things out. Providing an environment that offers interesting play materials and opportunities to try new things is a good starting point.

The cultural heritages of both partners in Te Tiriti o Waitangi should be reflected in the programmes of learning we offer our children. Te Whāriki, the ECE curriculum, reflects this and our programmes, being based on the principles and strands of Te Whāriki (through the curriculum framework), should reflect this also. It is important for all children to experience general aspects of the traditions that make up Māori culture. Everyone has a role in providing this learning for children.

The principles/Ngā Kaupapa Whakahaere and strands/Ngā Taumata Whakahirahira of Te Whāriki should be evident in everything that occurs at playgroup. The play materials and experiences that are available in the playgroup are the tools through which the ideas in the principles and strands of the curriculum framework can occur.

Each playgroup will provide equipment, and opportunities that best reflect the values, beliefs and interests of their own children, families, and the resources available in the setting and local community. While keeping this in mind, the play ideas listed in this document can provide playgroups with a starting point to help them provide a wide variety of experiences and opportunities.

Children learn when they:

  • find things that capture their interest
  • get involved and spend time playing around with and exploring things
  • persevere with things they find difficult or unfamiliar
  • test their ideas, share and talk about ideas, make up new ideas by themselves and with others
  • initiate or take responsibility for their own learning.

When parents look at children engaged in learning at the playgroup they often see different things being learnt and developed. When a child is playing at the playdough table one parent might notice the increasingly different ways the child is moulding and manipulating the dough (Exploration strand), another parent might notice how the child builds friendships with other children using playdough (Contribution strand), yet another parent might notice the way the child is using playdough to act out familiar cultural practices (Communication strand).

It is important to remember that new learning or progress in learning is not always immediately noticeable. In addition to providing an array of interesting and stimulating equipment, opportunities and resources adults should pay attention to what children are doing, how they are doing it and how their play or exploration is changing over time.

Te Whāriki is present in a lot of what children are doing. When adults observe children and bring knowledge of Te Whāriki to that observation then they are in a very good place to support that child’s future learning.

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Last updated: 6 July 2010