Enhancing early childhood learning through imaginary play

 Play-based learning is at the heart and soul of Australia’s approach to early childhood education. And for good reason. Research shows that when it comes to optimal brain development in children, learning through play and exploration delivers results, going so far as to shape the structural design of the brain. 


The Early Years Learning Framework defines play-based learning as “a context for learning through which children organise and make sense of their social worlds, as they engage actively with people, objects and representation”. And the search for new and innovative ways to provide unique and rewarding learning experiences for children in early childhood is endless. Enter, Conceptual PlayWorld — a model of intentional teaching from Monash Professor Marilyn Fleer. 

Merging education with fun through immersive learning 

Conceptual PlayWorld is the term chosen to describe an immersive play-based, imagination-driven learning experience for young children. The name is fitting, given that a Conceptual PlayWorld is exactly that — creating a version of a world and encouraging children to play and explore within it. 

Professor Fleer’s extensive research and experience lead to the development of the Conceptual PlayWorld model, with Fleer looking at how children form concepts, particularly in STEM areas.  

According to Monash University’s Conceptual PlayWorld website, a Conceptual PlayWorld is: 

“… an imaginary scenario created by an educator where young children are invited to go on imaginary journeys, meet and solve challenges, and learn STEM concepts – all while playing. 

toddler playing with horses small2

Imagination is the limit 

So where do you find inspiration to create your own Conceptual PlayWorld? You can base yours on anything from a story from a book or a folk tale or just something that comes to mind! And any classroom can host a Conceptual PlayWorld set up as you can easily work with what you have to spark the imaginations of children. 

The imaginary worlds you create with and/or for children in your care not only enable educators to delivers innovative and immersive play-based learning experiences, but also help to explain complex concepts through real, hands-on experience. New questions can pop up throughout the journey too, with Conceptual PlayWorlds creating natural prompts for further learning. 

Stand out with Conceptual PlayWorld 

The benefits for children’s development are clear, but embedding this model in your child care setting can create benefits that go even further. Incorporating the Conceptual PlayWorld model is an opportunity to enhance learning while establishing to stand out among the increasing number of child care services available to families. Conceptual PlayWorlds could even be incorporated in your centre’s tours and open days to showcase your approach. 

For educators, Conceptual PlayWorld can be a great source of motivation. From the brainstorming stage, through to planning and execution, educators can create a rewarding learning experience for children through this model. Watching children grasp new concepts and take charge with their own learning is a hugely satisfying element of early childhood education. Conceptual PlayWorld delivers with the additional excitement as children are immersed in a special world that truly engages them on multiple levels. 

At Selmar we are continually looking for ways to help educators and centres to reach their full potential. Enhance learning, motivate educators and establish a point of difference for your centre — it’s all possible with Conceptual PlayWorlds 

Learn more via the website or by downloading the app. 



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