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September Blog: A New School Year: Our Roles as Parents

July Blog: Teaching Your Child Important Values Through Playing

June Blog: Learning Through Play

Play gives children a chance to practice what they’re learning.
- Fred Rogers

Learning Through Play

We all like to have fun and obviously this has its roots in early childhood. What child do you know of would turn down having fun? Children love all types of games, make-believe, role-playing, etc. As parents/educators we want our kids to be happy and to have fun, but we also are well aware of the crucial life lessons children need to learn in order to stay safe and happy as well. So why not combine the two - learning and playing? Children can be taught through lectures or discussions or they can learn while playing a game, laughing, interacting, moving around, and having fun at the same time. Now which would YOU prefer?

What is Learning Through Play?

1. “Learning through play” is an actual term used in education to describe one of the ways children can learn to navigate their world.

2. Through play children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments.

Play is essential to a child’s intellectual, social, physical and emotional development. 3Im fact it’s theorized that healthy play in a person’s childhood can have an impact on that person’s predisposition for violence later in life.

Different Types of Play

3. Experts have divided the types of play into the following categories:


●      Active Play

●      Quiet Play

●      Cooperative (Social) Play

●      Solitary Play

●      Manipulative Play

●      Creative Play

●      Dramatic Play

In this blog we’ll look at the link between learning and playing games so, although many of these types of play overlap, we’ll concentrate mainly on the cooperative and creative types of play.

Different Types of Learning

4. Neil Fleming, a New Zealand teacher and researcher, creator of the VARK model (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic), presents four different types of learning. As with the different types of play, these different types of learning can overlap.


●      Visual - includes information found in maps, charts, graphs, flowsheets, diagrams and all symbolic arrows, circles, etc. used to represent what can also be presented in words.

●      Aural/Auditory - information that is heard or spoken. People with this type of learning will prefer lectures, radio, printed words, discussions, spoken words as in web chats and mobile phones.

●      Read/Write - information displayed as words; usually preferred by teachers and students. This emphasizes reading and writing as in manuals, reports, essays, etc. These people prefer the Internet, lists, dictionaries, diaries and journals, etc.

●      Kinesthetic - demonstrations, videos, simulations, case studies, applications, etc. The key is the reality or concrete nature of the information, information that can be felt, tasted, grasped, held. Often referred to as “learning by doing” or “learning by experience.”

Learning that takes place through playing can include all of the above learning styles.

Meaningful Play

5. Meaningful play is play that has the following characteristics:


●      Give a child a choice about what he or she wants to do

●      Feels fun and enjoyable for the child

●      Evolves spontaneiously rather than giving kids a script to follow

●      Is driven by intrinsic motivation about what the child wants to do

●      Creates a risk-free environment where kids can experiment and try new ideas

6. Children mostly learn through comparing physical experiences, interactions with others and their own feelings.

7. Play pulls together the logical and the creative parts of the brain by allowing the child to ask questions, express themselves, collaborate with others and take creative risks.

Benefits of Learning through Play

Games make learning fun, which in turn helps them to pay attention and stay focused. When the child is engaged, they are motivated. An engaged child won’t want to stop playing the game until the game is over;

8. this is known as “intrinsic motivation” and it’s based on challenge, curiosity, control and fantasy.

9. Some of the benefits of learning through playing are:


●      Learning through the process of playing the game

●      Provides a context for engaging practice

●      Teach variety of important skills

○      Critical thinking skills

○      Creativity

○      Sportsmanship

○      Teamwork

●      Connection with content of the game

●      Form positive memories of learning

●      Get student attention

●      Active engagment


Active learning through play stimulates motivation, memory and engagement. Teaching children essential life skills through games that are interactive opens communication channels, grabs and keeps  the child’s attention, motivates and provides memories the child can call upon when in a situation(s) that require knowledge of personal safety, online safety, stranger danger, fairness, manners, etc. Learning these lessons through play and interaction gives children a game plan for navigating an often dangerous world safely.


*The Game Plan Game is an interactive board game that helps parents/teachers teach children important lessons about safety and social expectations.


1 “Learning Through Play,” Wikipedia,

2 “Human Growth and the Development of Personality,” Jack Kahn, Susan Elinor Wright,

3,4“Learning Through Play,” Shelley Butler,

4”What is Your Child’s Learning Style?” Greg Gudorf,

5”Five Essentials to Meaningful Play,”  Marcia L. Nell, Walter F. Drew,

6,7”How do Children Learn ?” Sarah Mead,

8”What is GLB?”

9”Five Reasons to Use Games in the Classroom,” Rebekah Stathakis, 




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