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The concept of play and how it aids learning

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Young People
Wordcount: 1441 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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JUST PLAYING When I’m building in the block room, Please don’t say I’m “Just Playing.” For, you see, I’m learning as I play; About balances and shapes.  When I’m getting all dressed up, Setting the table, caring for the babies, Don’t get the idea I’m “Just Playing.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play;

I may be a mother or a father someday. 

When you see me up to my elbows in paint,

Or standing at an easel, or molding and shaping clay,

Please don’t let me hear you say, “He is just playing.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I’m expressing myself and being creative.

I may be an artist or an inventor someday. 

When you see me sitting in a chair

“Reading” to an imaginary audience,

Please don’t laugh and think I’m “Just Playing.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I may be a teacher someday. 

When you see me combing the bushes for bugs,

Or packing my pockets with choice things I find,

Don’t pass it off as “Just Play.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I may be a scientist someday. 

When you see me engrossed in a puzzle,

Or some “plaything” at my school,

Please don’t feel the time is wasted in “Play.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I’m learning to solve problems and concentrate.

I may be in business someday. 

When you see me cooking or tasting foods,

Please don’t think that because I enjoy it, it is “Just Play.”

I’m learning to follow directions and see differences.

I may be a chef someday.

When you see me learning to skip, hop, run, and move my body,

Please don’t say I’m “Just Playing.”

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I’m learning how my body works.

I may be a doctor, nurse or athlete someday. 

When you ask me what I’ve done at school today,

And I say, “I just played,”

Please don’t misunderstand me.

For, you see, I’m learning as I play.

I’m learning to enjoy and be successful in my work.

I’m preparing for tomorrow.

Today, I’m a child and my work is play.

Getting Started:

It is important for adults working with children to understand that play is where and how children learn and grow. Understanding the relationship of play to learning will assist you in planning developmentally appropriate programs for children.

Definition of Play:

Retrieved on 31-August-2010 from http://www.westchesterlibraries.org/node/102

Play has been defined in a multitude of ways:

“The means whereby the child in fantasy comes to know reality.” Krauss

“The way which the child learns what none can teach him. It is the way he explores and orients himself to the actual world of space and time, of things, animals, structure and people . . . Play is the child’s work.” Krauss

“The most complete of all educational processes for it influences the intellect, the emotion and the body of the child.” Scarfe

How Play Impacts Development:

Play is important to the development of children in the following areas:

Cognitive Development

Retrieved on 31-August-2010 from http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/~frodrig/archives/2009/02/week_03_cogniti.html

language and literacy



An important part of Cognitive Development is the development of representation skills through play.

Representation skills is the ability to examine an object and understand its use, and to use one object to represent another.

Representation skills are important for:

Envisioning Ideas

Solving Problems


Envisioning Ideas

Building a fort out of cardboard box and blocks is an example of children using their representation skills. Children have to gather what they already know about forts (what they look like and what they are used for), think about this information, and then build it using the materials they have.

Solving Problems

Children will use their language and social skills to work together to make the fort.


Children use their creativity to problem solve construction problems such as what happens when too much weight is placed on the fort, the fort is uneven, or the fort is built on uneven surface. (weight, symmetry, balance)

Social and Emotional Development

Play enhances children’s social and emotional development.

Children’s social and emotional development include:




respect for each other

For example, in block play, children gain self-esteem by contributing their ideas, such as how many blocks to use. They gain empathy when they recognize how others feel, for example, someone drops a block on their foot. They learn cooperation as they share the work of moving blocks and they gain respect for each other when they recognize the worth of others’ ideas.

Physical Development

Retrieved on 31-August-2010 from http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/h/hop-scotch.asp

Play provides the setting for physical development such as:

balance (standing on one leg)

coordination (threading beads on string)

muscle enhancement (lifting heavy objects)

Active play a part of physical development requires children to run, jump, roll, climb, stretch, etc.

Active play will occur during most movement activities. (playing at the gym or playground, games, nature walks, movement songs and dances/hokey pokey)

Physical development can take place during many play experiences. For example building a fort requires the children to run and get the cardboard boxes, lift and carry the blocks to the fort, stretch to place the blocks around the fort, are all ways they are engaging in active play and increasing their physical development.

Creativity Development

Retrieved on 31-August-2010 from heatherfrost1206.blogspot.com

Play increases creativity. Children, stacking blocks, will use whatever materials are on hand. They will create a fort out of a chair and a blanket. They will even create a whole fort out of thin air. They will announce the location of walls and doors. Play is essential to developing a child’s creativity (imaginative thinking). If children develop creative abilities, they most likely will be able to adapt to new situations and opportunities in a positive manner.

Important to Note:

“Despite increasing evidence that play is the serious business of young children and that the opportunity to play freely is vital to their healthy development, ECE find that many administrators and parents continue to misunderstand and underestimate the importance of play in the lives of children” Hendreick and Weissman (2006)

It is important that ECE’s understand and promote the importance of play within their communities. Resist pressure to replace play with academic (school) activities such as worksheets.


“Recognizing that play in early childhood has a significant role in the social, physical, and cognitive development of a child is crucial. Recently, there has been a shift even on the preschool level to reduce playtime and to increase organized academic learning. While at first glance, this may appear to be a positive step; it is in fact detrimental to healthy child development.”


Please read the article titled The Importance of Play in Early Childhood Development by clicking on the link below.


Retrieved on 1-September-2010 from nndb.com

“Children’s play is their work, and the more we encourage children to play, the more we will be giving them an important resource for learning and for growing all through their lives.”

Mr. Fred Rogers


Engagement | Exploration | Application | Connection | Top

created 12-Oct-2009

modified 02-Sep-2010




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