Play is central to how children learn – how they make sense of their world, form and explore friendships, and shape and test ideas. Much is known about the importance of play in children’s development, yet little research has explored what it might mean to put play at the centre of schooling.

Trying to find answers to some of these questions is an ambitious task that we are lifting in the Pedagogy of Play (PoP) project, together with a research team from Project Zero, a research organisation based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the International School of Billund (ISB).

Participatory research with teachers

Since 2015, we have been engaged in participatory research together with teachers from ISB, developing a framework that describes the phenomenon of learning through play and the means to create, support and sustain a pedagogy of play in schools. The project continues to develop and refine playful learning ideas, materials and strategies that support teachers in Denmark – helping ISB become a beacon for those interested in having play as a core resource of learning in school.

At the same time, a broad goal of the PoP project is to develop a framework that is applicable across contexts and cultures. To do this, we need to establish that the ideas around learning through play are valid, culturally relevant and accessible. The project has therefore recently expanded to include a two-year observational project in several primary schools in South Africa.

Reports

While this research is still in process, please consult some emergent findings and hands-on examples here:

Towards a Pedagogy of Play (Project Zero)

Working paper situating the research in the fields of play and learning, and presenting promising theories about the objective and subjective nature of learning through play.

Playful Participatory Research: An Emerging Methodology for Developing a Pedagogy of Play (Project Zero)

Companion working paper exploring a new model of collaborative research and also providing a deeper examination of the work with ISB.

POP Teacher Resources (ISB)

On the International School of Billund website you will find many of the tools developed during the first few years of the PoP project. Most of these resources are created for and by teachers at ISB, but drafted to be useful for any educator interested in the “how to” of learning through play.