Play is the most powerful medium through which young children learn. Through play their intrinsic motivation to learn is most readily satisfied. In play children learn about the world, about how other people live and feel, about creating things and ideas, about making plans, taking decisions and solving problems.

Whether in a group setting or at home, children’s play should address all their developmental needs. Good play provision respects children and their interests and strengths, it challenges and supports them, soothes and stimulates, satisfies and excites and above all extends their learning. It meets their need for creativity and aesthetic development. It helps them process difficult life events. It develops their sensitivity to other people and cultures, ages and abilities. It enhances their resilience   (Barnardo's 2002)

The resources below will demonstrate the stages of play that the toddler goes through and the sklls that they acquire through play

The Development of Play Skills From Birth to 3 3                     The Development of Play Skills From Birth to 3 4

These indoor and outdoor play resources will suit both parents and practitioners in their understanding and provision of play - click on the image >>

learningthroughplay                                 learningoutdoors     


Here is a short video that will take you through the stages of play

 The Value of Block Play

Playing with blocks provides the opportunity for children to learn elements of science and math, like problem solving, counting, adding and subtracting, and helps them build both gross and fine motor skills. Block play also supports other key aspects of development, including language learning as children talk about the structures they built with the adults and children around them, creativity, imagination, self-esteem, and social and emotional growth. (NAEYC)

Block Play for an 18 month old is different to block play for a 5 year old. Children go through various stages of block play. As they work through the learning of one stage they are ready to move on to the next stage of play. As skills advance, it is typical for children to combine several stages. The stages are developmental—each one building on the last—but children advance at their own rate regardless of their age.

  • Stage 1: Discovering Blocks
  • Stage 2: Stacking Blocks
  • Stage 3: Complex Stacking
  • Stage 4: Making Enclosures
  • Stage 5: Creating Bridges or Arches
  • Stage 6: Combining Enclosures and Bridges
  • Stage 7: Building with Patterns and Symmetry
  • Stage 8: Building Block Structures that Represent Objects for Pretend Play

    Here is an NCN resource that will give you many play ideas for babies, toddlers and preschoolers


Here are some of the posts that appeared on the NCN Play Hub Facebook page in case you missed them

NCN Playdoh2     NCN Farm Play

NCN Tube Play        NCN Sticky Ball Play

 NCN Shape Sorter        NCN Jelly Dig

NCN Ice World       NCN Hopscotch

NCN Schema No. 4     NCN Schema No. 5 Positioning

NCN Rotational Schema       NCN Transporting Schema

   NCN Schema No.6         NCN Slime Activity

NCN Toddler Sensory

Water Play for 24 36 months                        

Observing Processes