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Playful Teaching and Learning

Playful Teaching and Learning

First Edition
Edited by:

March 2017 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Every early years practitioner should be able to captivate and maintain the interest of young children in their setting, through the provision of a playful learning experience.

Covering age ranges 3-8 years, Playful Teaching and Learning explores the importance of infusing playfulness throughout the entire early years day, and includes chapters that:
  • Establish the core principles underpinning playful teaching and learning
  • Help students and practitioners understand how playfulness can be applied to all aspects of the early years curriculum including mathematics, literacy, outdoor environments, science & technology, and ICT
  • Explore core issues in early years provision including observing, planning & assessment, and how they relate to playful learning
  • Emphasize the role and qualities of the playful professional
This is a fantastic resource for any student or practitioner looking to enrich the lives of young children through meaningful playful learning experiences.
Section 1: Principles of Playful Teaching and Learning
Glenda Walsh
Chapter 1 Why Playful Teaching and Learning?
Liz Sproule
Chapter 2 Mental Models of Early Years Practice: Digging Deeper
Glenda Walsh
Chapter 3 Pillars of Practice for Playful Teaching and Learning
Section 2: Playful Teaching and Learning across the Curriculum
Carol McGuinness
Chapter 4 Playful Thinking in Action: Tools for Cultivating Children’s Thinking
Ross Ó Corráin and Elizabeth Dunphy
Chapter 5 Playful Pedagogies in Early Childhood Mathematics
Catherine Gilliland
Chapter 6 Playful Approaches to Literacy
Marion Dowling and Glenda Walsh
Chapter 7 Growing the Child in the Playful Setting
Richard Greenwood
Chapter 8 Playful Learning in Natural Outdoor Environments
Christine Stephen
Chapter 9 ICT Made Playful
Andrea Doherty and John McCullagh
Chapter 10 Playful Approaches to Science and Technology
Section 3: The Role of the Playful Professional
Jacqueline Fallon
Chapter 11 Hopeful Intentions: Planning for Playful Teaching and Learning
Glenda Walsh and Elizabeth Sproule
Chapter 12 Assessment in the Playful Teaching and Learning Experience
Dorothy McMillan
Chapter 13 Towards the Playful Professional

This book draws on a wealth of research on play, learning, pedagogy and curriculum in early childhood education. The contributors rightly emphasise the importance of play to children, and the opportunities that play provides for learning and development. Each of the chapters is informed by international research, and offers contrasting perspectives about different forms of play, and the challenges that practitioners face in their practice. 


Professor Elizabeth Wood
School of Education, University of Sheffield

How do you capture and maintain the interests of young children through the provision of playful learning, while ensuring that effective learning is taking place? This is the driving principal of this thought provoking, but also very practical book that will enrich the knowledge of practitioners of all levels, and add to the reflective nature of their pedagogy.

Neil Henty
Early Years Educator

This is a fantastic resource for any student or practitioner looking to enrich the lives of young children through meaningful playful learning experiences. Extensively researched with an excellent number of case studies to show how the principles work in practice, plus references for further reading, this is authoritative yet highly readable. It really highlights the benefits to children of a playful approach to learning, giving teachers confidence to incorporate the principles into everyday teaching.

Sarah Brew
Parents in Touch

Though there were some useful case studies and links to theory and research; the most useful part for me and my students would be the section on the core principles of playful teaching and learning. The book definitely encourages reflection on how to improve practice and engage children in more playful learning and teaching for children preschool aged and up, which is useful if you are working with this age group. I want to focus more on the core of what play is, play experience from 0-5 years, their own perspectives of play, with less focus on the methods of 'teaching' through play. Perhaps a little too teacher/primary education focused for our use.

Miss Jennifer Hanson
Early Years, Gloucestershire College
June 23, 2020

Explores playful teaching in a meaningful way beyond the EYFS

Mrs Holly Kilvington
Faculty of Education, Brighton University
July 15, 2019

This is a timely book which considers issues which many early years' school teachers in Scotland are struggling with - how to integrate play more fully into learning and teaching or even adopt a play-based curriculum, whilst still ensuring progression in children's learning that meets attainment targets.
Working as a teacher educator with students in Scotland, I particularly like the general nature of the book. There is reference to research carried out in an Irish context, but the book is not focused on one national curriculum as so many others are. That causes difficulties for students who have to work with a different curriculum and assessment model.

Susan McLarty
Moray House School of Education, Edinburgh University
May 17, 2018

A very useful text to support students understanding of Early Years practice in relation to the Early Years Teacher role.

Miss Lorna Wardle
School of Education (Clifton), Nottingham Trent University
November 3, 2017

Links well to course content

Mrs Terrie Blaszczyk
Froebel College, Roehampton University
August 31, 2017

Sample Materials & Chapters

Playful Teaching and Learning - Chapter 1

Glenda Walsh

Glenda Walsh is Head of Early Years Education and principal lecturer at Stranmillis University College, a College of Queen’s University Belfast. Her research interests centre on quality issues in Early Childhood Education, particularly in the field of pedagogy and curriculum. Her PhD thesis focused on an evaluation of play versus formal experiences for 4-5 year old children in Denmark and Northern Ireland and for the purposes of her doctoral study, she designed an observation tool, known as the Quality Learning Instrument. Subsequently she has been involved in many major research projects such as the longitudinal evaluation of the Early... More About Author

Dorothy McMillan

Dorothy McMillan was, until recently, a senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Stranmillis University College, Belfast, teaching on the PGCE (Early Years), BA and MA in Early Childhood Studies degree programmes. She has wide experience of working with children, as a former primary school teacher, nursery school principal and playgroup leader, and has also been involved in setting up and running parent and toddler groups. Her doctoral thesis centred on the conceptual notion of ‘educare’ in preschool settings and its implications for early years training. Her research interests are focused on training and early years professionalism... More About Author

Carol McGuinness

Carol McGuinness is Professor Emerita at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her research interests are in the application of cognitive and developmental psychology to classroom learning, specifically, how teachers can promote the development of children’s thinking skills. She authored the influential Department of Education (then DfEE) report From Thinking Skills to Thinking Classrooms (1999), and directed the Activating Children’s Thinking Skills (ACTS) project, funded by the ESRC’s Teaching and Learning Research Programme (2002-2005). Working with Glenda Walsh and colleagues, she led the longitudinal evaluation of the play... More About Author