"Play is often overlooked as the key that helps unlock the door to learning.” 

Mary Reilly 1974

Play is:

  • A complex set of behaviors characterized by fun and spontaneity
  • Play can be sensory, neuromuscular, cognitive & any combination of the three
  • Play involves repetition of experience, exploration, experimentation, and imitation of one’s surroundings

Linda L. Florey 1981

"Play is the universal language of childhood. It is through play that children understand each other and make sense of the world around them."

Play Scotland


What is Play?

Description: Patty Obrzut, Assistant Director of Penrickton Center for Blind Children defines the essential role of play in Active Learning.

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Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

Play-based Learning

The importance of play-based learning (as is found in Active Learning) is discussed in this article, "The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children", by Michael Yogman, Andrew Garner, Jeffrey Hutchinson, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, Council on Communications and Media, with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Play-based learning can be accomplished in a variety of ways in Active Learning including:

  • small group activities that have been appropriately adapted to meet the learner's individual needs as described in the Individual Education Program (IEP),
  • independent exploration and discovery in Active Learning environments that utilzie perceptualizing aids, and
  • within interactions with adults (or even peers) who use the treatments of offering, imitation, interaction, sharing the work, and consequences.  

This video from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child helps explain why play is so important to all humans, Play in Early Childhood: The Role of Play in Any Setting.


play collage