Learning Through Play in KS1

  • Play at Key Stage 1 builds on the active, hands–on learning that has taken place in the Foundation Stage. It is often linked to the topic being explored and allows children to engage in a variety of focused play activities AND independent play based games/activities, for example, construction, role play, art/design and games.
    Play provides opportunities for children to experience learning in a meaningful and purposeful way. It is a means by which children can develop the skills and capabilities to be effective learners. Play provides a context for children to access the content of the curriculum.
    Opportunities are given to children to build on previous experiences and make connections in their learning in an enjoyable way. The environment encourages children
    to develop positive dispositions and share ownership of their learning.

    Play is important

    It develops:

    • The dispositions to learn
    • Self-esteem
    • Self-confidence
    • Independence
    • Positive attitudes to learning
    • Feelings and relationships
    • Personal skills and capabilities
    • Creativity
    • Self expression
    • Imaginative thinking
    • Co-ordination skills
    • Communication skills
    • Language development
    • Curiosity
    • Investigation
    • Exploration
    • Autonomy
    • Motivation
    • Perseverance
    • Concentration
    • Reflection

    It encourages adults to:

    • Make learning enjoyable
    • Make learning relevant
    • Build on previous knowledge/experiences
    • Involve children in the planning process
    • Be imaginative/creative
    • Be active
    • Observe and assess regularly to inform future plans
    • Interact effectively
    • Self-evaluate
    • Consider the holistic
    development of children
    • Monitor progress

    It encourages children to:

    • Enjoy learning
    • Make informed and responsible decisions
    • Make links in their learning
    • Reflect on previous experiences
    • Self-evaluate
    • Manage their learning
    • Take some responsibility for their learning
    • Transfer learning to real-life situations

    How does it work at Prince Edward Primary School?

    Y1 and Y2 classrooms are set up with different learning areas such as role play, sand/water, painting, workshop, small world, writing area and ICT. 

    We work closely with the Foundation Stage to build on prior learning experiences through highly effective transition, ensure there is challenge and provide learning opportunities for children who didn’t achieve a Good Level of Development at the end of FS2

    During a lesson, all children will join together for the whole class learning.  After that, some children will work in a group with an adult, some children may work in a group by themselves and some children can choose their own learning activity. 

    Sometimes, a second adult will be facilitating learning.  This means they will be observing play activities and suggesting how the learning could be even better or giving ideas.  They might be making notes on what the children are learning for evidence.

    When children can choose their own learning, they can also choose from an adult directed learning ‘challenge’.  These are planned and set up by the teacher.  There is always a maths and writing challenge.  When children complete a learning challenge to an acceptable standard, they are awarded with a ‘challenge ticket’ and put into a draw to attend the celebration tea party each Friday. 

    Children can earn ‘challenge tickets’ in other ways too.  Children in Y1 can write in their writing journal.  Children can also demonstrate self chosen learning and an adult can choose to award a challenge ticket for good learning being observed e.g. children may choose to write some instructions for a model they make, write and answer their own number sentences or enjoy reading a book.  We encourage children to make their own decisions about when to complete a learning challenge but there may be times when we direct certain children to a particular challenge based in their individual needs. 

    Adults regularly share with children what good learning looks like and what they would expect to see in that year group and for their ability level.  This is shared and celebrated in different ways. 

    Many of the resources are organised so the children can access them independently, all of the time.  This allows them to make links and extend their own learning independently. 

    Some areas may have a specific focus e.g. paint a repeating pattern, whereas others may be open ended e.g. we have been reading ‘The Gruffalo’ what could you write about?  We encourage children to make their own decisions about their learning to see that learning is possible alone, in groups and with an adult. 

    Our planning shows daily which groups work with an adult and which groups have access to play based learning.  Over a week there is an equal balance between adult directed, adult initiated and child initiated to ensure all children get quality focus group time and independent learning time

    We understand the need for extended periods of time to play, uninterrupted by adults, and have adopted methods to overcome this.  Play is not used as a reward for finishing off work or as a five minute filler between activities.  Adults and children know that play is also quality learning time.  The children will refer to it as ‘independent learning’.  We don’t tidy everything away at the end of every lesson as quality role play, storytelling or building can be easily interrupted.