Encyclopedia of Science Education

Living Edition
| Editors: Richard Gunstone

Curriculum in Play-Based Contexts

  • Dawn Garbett
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6165-0_215-5

What is Play?

The maxim that “children learn through play” is a pedagogical given in early years settings. Teachers and parents recognize that play serves many valuable purposes. It fosters children’s physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development. It provides opportunities for high-level reasoning, insightful problem solving, and creative thought. Play-based curriculum is developed from the children’s interests and gives rise to their creative explorations of the environment. Despite play traditionally being defined as engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose, many educationalists have pursued other definitions. For example, Somerset ( 1995) wrote:

To children, play is work, hard work, their business in life … This self-activated learning … is termed merely play perhaps because children choose what they learn, take their own time about it, and enjoy it all. (p. 15)

It has been argued that play has a quality that enables...


Early Childhood Teacher Insightful Problem Basic Science Concept Early Childhood Center Creative Exploration 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand