messy play

Learning Through Play

Guided play maximises learning opportunities

What is it?

Learning through play is the process of giving children the opportunity to learn through the first-hand experience of engaging in tasks that capture their imagination.

Your children will tell you they are "just playing". In practice, it is more structured and purposeful than they appreciate.

Staff supervise the play at all times, so it is safe, constructive, and models positive behaviour. They gently guide the children, using encouragement and suggestions, to challenge them and extend their learning.

Why is it important?

Learning through play is far more central to the development of young children than many parents realise. It promotes confidence, imagination and creativity while building so many essential skills.

Research has clearly demonstrated that, in the early years, a play-based approach is far more effective than the traditional instructional method of teaching. It is particularly strong at developing those core attributes of thinking, concentrating, and creative problem solving that are fundamental to further learning.

Learning through play at Acorn

Indoor and outdoor areas are sub-divided in to learning areas. Each areas has its own equipment and resources to encourage a particular kind of activity, and these are frequently changed.

Children are encouraged to become actively involved in hands-on activities. These are fun and engaging, while helping them to link new concepts to ideas they already understand.

Sensory activities are used to encourage open ended exploration by seeing, smelling, hearing and touching. We incorporate scoops, shovels, spoons and tweezers. This all helps with developing motor skills.⁠ Communication and language skills are developed through discussion, communication, and teamwork. Children learn to express themselves, and increase their vocabulary. ⁠

Numicon shapes are used as a hands-on way to learn pre-maths skills through play. They are easy for our youngest children to manipulate, using them to learn colours, sorting, and eventually counting. Our older children use them for building towers, comparing sizes of sets, sequencing, following or making patterns and eventually for counting, addition and subtraction.⁠ ⁠