An immersive world of learning through play

Jessica Clifton

Jessica Clifton is marketing manager for elementary at LEGO Education, covering the UK, Scandinavia and France. Jess holds over three years’ experience within the sector and with a passion for working alongside teachers and educational specialists, she is able to contribute to the company’s ethos of providing solutions and resources that are used in the classroom to bring subjects to life and make learning fun.

Follow @LEGOeducationUK

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Originally published on 27th October 2016 Originally published on 27th October 2016

Young children learn through their imaginations. They experiment with the world and people around them through role play and creative activities. While this is often done individually in playtimes and at home, schools can also harness the power of creative play in classrooms to develop well-rounded pupils.

The early years of school are an exciting time, with new people to meet and new experiences to be had. It is a time where children develop their personalities and foster cognitive skills, and it is the job of teachers to create a positive and supportive environment which allows these attributes to grow.

"Creative exploration promotes experimentation and builds confidence."

The central focus for any early years / Primary classroom should be creative exploration, allowing children to bring their ideas to life in a real way, which promotes experimentation and builds confidence, as they can see the positive results of their work. Surrounding this, there are three key areas for development: social and emotional skills, which help children learn to interact with others; language and literacy, which stimulate their language development; and Maths and Science, which promote early problem-solving skills.

All of these elements can be explored through a cycle of constructing, contemplating and reconstructing ideas, using hands-on and creative activities to stimulate engagement and help children to enjoy their learning. Here are some ideas for what you could use in the classroom to inspire pupils in lessons:

Social and emotional development

This is possibly the most crucial element of early childhood, simply because it will form the foundations for how pupils will interact with others, possibly for the rest of their lives. In order to foster positive relationships, children must be able to understand their own emotions and the feelings of others, while identifying the similarities and differences between people, developing a sense of self and belonging within an increasingly global community.

In order to inspire discussion around this, you could tell a story that involves characters feeling a variety of emotions, before asking pupils to build or draw a representation of those feelings: what does ‘sad’ look like? What does ‘angry’ look like? Following this, you can then ask the pupils about times when they have felt like the characters in the story. If they were sad or angry, what made them feel better? If they were happy, did they try and make others around them happy too? Sometimes, pupils can find it hard to discuss things that make them feel sad, but by opening the discussion in the safe space of the classroom, children will feel more supported and able to address their feelings and the situations that cause them.

To develop teamwork and interpersonal skills, you could create a collaborative scenario, like a café, where pupils"You could ask them to build a story scene-by-scene and describe it to the class." role play various people in the scene, deciding who will be responsible for what and determining how these roles interact. The customer will discuss their order with the waiter, who will take this to the chef. The chef then prepares the meal and the waiter takes this back to the customer. This situation also requires children to work on their communication skills by providing instructions and feedback to make sure that everyone understands!

Literacy and language

In every lesson, you can encourage pupils to use new words which will expand their vocabulary. When looking into literacy specifically, you can use creative prompts to get pupils’ imaginations going. For example, you could ask them to build a story scene-by-scene and describe it to the class, using phrases to signpost parts of the tale, such as “Once upon a time”, “all of a sudden” and “in the end”. This helps to build grammatical knowledge and understanding of narrative structure.

This form of storyboarding lends itself well to early writing, as the pupils are able to visualise their ideas and discuss them before putting pen to paper. Children could even act out the story to better understand the themes and work on their speaking and listening skills! Changing the perspective of the story can also develop this further, using new words and discussing different issues. If there is a villain in the story, ask pupils to retell the events from their perspective!

Maths, Science and problem-solving

It is crucial to spark an interest in Science and Maths from an early age, as these are the subjects that often fall victim to the labels of “difficult” or “boring” later on in school life. Showing children how fun and inspiring technical subjects are can be a challenge, but by using creative exploration, pupils will be able to see it for themselves. You could talk about animal categorisation in both a mathematical and scientific context, using hands-on activities to group animals in a variety of ways. For example, group animals by species and count the individual numbers, and then divide these species into classes, such as mammals or reptiles, and then calculate the number of animals in these categories.

In exploring how things work, you can also give pupils the opportunity to create their own ideas. For instance, you could look at how aeroplanes actually manage to fly and ask the class to design their own plane, describing what features could be added to improve the flight of the vehicle. This playful experience allows them to enjoy the lesson, while still looking into the key concepts of gravity and physics that will be explored in greater detail as they move through school.

To conclude

Children are naturally creative, and in order to encourage their talents, we should be nurturing this creativity, rather than forcing it into a box-ticking process. It’s no secret that when children are having fun, they learn more about the topic as their engagement is greater. By allowing them to see subjects in a playful manner, they will be more enthusiastic about them later in their school careers, and they will have developed the cognitive and personal skills needed to work with others in their class more effectively.

Are you an EY or Primary teacher? Share your experiences below.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"