Learning through play

Children use play to learn as they discover, create, wonder, imagine, and reflect.


1 min



  • Children are connected with and contribute to their world
  • Children are confident and involved learners
  • Children are effective communicators

NSW Syllabus Links:

  • Communicates effectively by using interpersonal conventions and language with familiar peers and adults. (ENE-OLC-01)
  • Understands and responds to literature read to them. (ENE-UARL-01)
  • Understands and effectively uses Tier 1 words and Tier 2 words in familiar contexts. (ENE-VOCAB-01)
  • Understands and responds to literature read to them. (ENE-UARL-01)

National Literacy Learning Progressions (LPs)



2 min

Play is essential, natural and instinctive. It is an age-appropriate way for a child to learn.

Play offers experiences of awe and wonder. It supports the spiritual child to make connections and develop a lifelong passion to explore, discover, question and appreciate their world.

Neural pathways and connections are formed in the first five years of a child’s life. Through play and active exploration, children’s brains are shaped and designed and many skills are developed including:

  • creativity
  • communication
  • problem solving
  • resilience
  • emotional regulation
  • collaboration
  • empathy

These are critical skills needed for life and school.

Most importantly, children are developing foundational literacy and numeracy skills through their everyday experiences of play. Play expands children’s thinking and enhances their desire to know and to learn.


10 min

Some ideas for learning in the everyday

  • Have a tea party with your toys.
  • Build a cubby house.
  • Create an obstacle course.
  • Play games like ‘I spy’.
  • Play dress ups.
  • Use your imagination – turn into a favourite superhero or story character.
  • Play with pegs, stones and shells (loose parts).
  • Introduce new words in play.
  • Enjoy the magic of joining in your child’s play.



30 min

Reflect on your knowledge and practice

Consider the EYLF, NSW Syllabus and LPs and consider learning through play:

  • Where have these children come from?
  • Where are you taking them?

Think about the learning that happens in your classroom – how do you use play across the curriculum?

What do you expect from the early learner?

What do you want parents to know about play?

How does play support the learning of literacy and numeracy?

This is an opportunity to share what play looks like in your classroom.


45 min

Engage in a learning conversation with parents

Suggested conversation starters:

  • Is there anything in the video that challenged your thinking about learning through play?
  • How are the children:
    • Practising their skills?
    • Testing their ideas?
    • Building their knowledge?
  • Discuss how play is essential in building a child’s confidence in learning (literacy and numeracy).
  • What opportunity can you create, or do you have at home to allow play to develop?
  • Discuss the learning opportunities that arise when you play with your children. (e.g. developing vocabulary, counting, sharing, turn taking).