Approaches to learning: How play develops thinking and language skills in young children


Play is a natural way for young learners to make sense of the world around them. Children build their brain connections to new learning and information they constantly receive through playing. As adults, we often view play as leisure and not actual work. However, play is the primary learning tool for young children as play is both a creative and reflective process that leads to acquiring knowledge and skills.


Let’s explore Prek-3 Bright Stars current unit – How we express ourselves through play.


Play promotes problem-solving and thinking skills

PreK-3 Bright Stars have many opportunities throughout the day to be problem-solvers and apply their thinking skills in different ways. In Sias International School, we aspire for students to be innovative. As part of our unit of inquiry, we were exploring the nursery rhymes, ‘Row, Row, Row your boat.’ Part of the nursery rhyme goes, “if you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream!” Students are curious how do we get to the other side of the river safely without getting eaten by the crocodile. We decided to find a solution together.

PreK-3 Bright Stars were brainstorming ideas as individuals. One of the ideas was to build a flying boat to carry the dinosaurs home.

PreK-3 Bright Stars decided to work as a team to pull the resources together. The students are working together to build a bridge across the river. They discussed ideas and resolved a conflict on how to make the bridge.Working in a group to reach a common goal takes a lot of facilitation and guidance from the adults in the environment.

This picture is the final form of the bridge resulted from the group reflection. Approaches to learning focused on the ‘how’ of the learning. In this play activity, students test their theories and reflect on how to better solve the problem. 

Extending and transferring their knowledge to a different set of problem.  The students build a more complex bridge that connects to the different buildings.


Play promotes language development


In Prek-3 Bright Stars, the students actively engage in play related to their learning. As part of the investigation of the ‘Row, row your boat,’ the students connected the spoken words to the written form through visual representation.

Through play, children explore different ways of expressing themselves. In Sias International school, the teachers encourage the students to investigate, generate and test their hypotheses to express their understanding through many expressions, including drawing, dramatic play, sculpture, singing and dance.


Scan the QR code to hear the PreK-3 Bright Stars sing

 ‘Row, row your boat.’