As practitioners and parents/carers we all agree that play is essential and fundamental to a child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. Play is what children do every day, for the young children attending Third Door there is no distinguish between this and learning, although it can be categories such as social, quiet and creative.

All children love to play, and during this time they are provided with many opportunities for learning. I believe it is the most important way in which children learn about the world around them whether it is looking through a picture book – pictures representing objects and words labelling the objects or dressing up and playing in the home corner- using small muscles, recreating their own world, sharing materials and communication with other children.

During my career I have encountered parents that worry that their children are “just playing” and not learning things they need to learn. Whereas I agree structured support, guidance and teaching of young children is vital, we must all remember play is learning and it does guide and support the children’s development.

At Third Door we have designed and intended the daily routine to be rich and meaningful encouraging new experiences and we promote this through a number of methods. For example by providing sufficient time for play – we understand children require time to explore an activity and too many stops and starts will lead to frustration and hinder their imagination from developing and interactions with others to occur. Also we plan and offer the children a selection of play experiences every day as different types of play lead to different kinds of learning experiences, in addition we understand that an activity for one child may result in a different learning experience for another.

As part of our daily routine we have time dedicated to free-flow play activities. This can sound vague, but this time incorporates planned activities, which is available to be viewed weekly on the intranet site. During this time the children have the freedom to select among many different activities, these activities have been planned around the findings from observations and the children’s interests expressed in the week prior. During this time all practitioners at Third Door understand they need to be paying close attention to the children, interacting and encouraging each individual, while offering them guidance but at the same time allowing the child to lead the play. This also presents the practitioners with the chance to complete observations, which will then inform future planning hence forthcoming activities.

Research has shown that children who are exposed to different types of play such as pretend play are usually more jubilant and cooperative; they can be more willing to take turns and share, display greater creativity in their play and can have larger vocabularies than those less involved in play activities.

We ensure we support each child in their play. We understand the importance of play and how much the children are learning. Every day we engage with your child and provide opportunities for them to interact with adults and other children when playing. By building towers, painting, running, singing and dancing we are watching the children learn, evolve and progress.

Effective learning through play can be achieved not just in a setting such as Third Door but also when spending time with family…

  • By providing a wide variety of play experiences and materials which children can try new things, by experimenting, asking questions, get messy at times and exploring and listening
  • By focusing on the learning that can occur during play, using play as a method to teach and enhance development
  • By providing opportunities to play outdoors as well as indoors
  • Allowing time for free play in which children are selecting and leading play, balanced with structured play
  • Encourage creativity, curiosity and the child’s longing to want to know more


Our Director loves making homemade popcorn necklaces and bracelets with her children. Adding colour, learning how to thread as well as counting the number of popcorn onthe bracelet incorporate so many different areas. It’s important to build on an activity that your child has shown an interest in and adding variations to it.

Let us know what activities you have found worked for you with your little ones at home.



Gemma, Nursery Manager