Learning through play experience tool

Introduction to the Learning through Play Experience Tool

We know that playful experiences support children in practising and developing a breadth of skills, which is essential for them to thrive and successfully navigate a complex and ever-changing world. However, it is often difficult to find practical and reliable tools to capture the quality of a child’s experience of learning through play.

This section describes the recent updates on the Learning through Play Experience Tool. The tool is designed to provide a shared understanding and methodology of playful experiences to inform decisions about the quality of the experience. Ultimately, the aim is for the tool to be used by practitioners, decision-makers and researchers, to observe, reflect upon, and improve children’s playful experiences.

From research with our international partnerswe have found that, during play, children have experiences characterized as joyful, actively engaging, iterative, meaningful, and socially interactive. These experiences foster deeper learning, which is a child’s ability to construct meaning and understanding in ways that allows them to develop and apply knowledge and skills in new situations.

The Learning through Play Experience Tool is not designed to rate or evaluate the individual child, but to understand how adults can better empower and enable children’s experiences to learn through play. It is an observational tool to collect data on a child’s play experience by empathising with a child and understand how they respond to the play experience.  

We have developed the following updates and background documents on the  Learning through Play Experience Tool. 

  • A short leaflet introducing the Learning through Play Experience Tool, the key concepts behind it, and illustrative examples.
  • The most recent version of the Learning through Play Experience Tool as a one-page observation guidelines for each of the characteristics.
  • We commissioned ACER to do a literature review of other instruments used to observe and measure the quality of children’s play experiences.
  • We commissioned ACER to do a follow-up study, in order to refine, stabilize and generalize the tool with the purpose of observing, reflecting upon and improving children’s playful experiences.
  • The follow-up study references the guidelines for general use of the tool, which includes a practical guide for collecting data as a basis for coding and discussions.
  • The tool is not fully operational without an understanding of the child’s context. The initial overview of the Contextual Data Tools are important to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with the child’s behavior, but instead we need to understand what should be changed in the environment and facilitation to better scaffold the child. Modifications and amendments to these tools are still in progress.
  • Journal articles describing the development and use of the Learning through Play Experience Tool [forthcoming 2020/2021].

These materials will further evolve over the coming years. Please do not hesitate to get in contact if you have an interest in getting a deeper introduction to the tool and discuss its applications.