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Science learning through play

Hesterman, S.ORCID: 0000-0001-7491-5527 and Hunter, N. (2021) Science learning through play. In: Campbell, C., Jobling, W. and Howitt, C., (eds.) Science in Early Childhood. Cambridge University Press, pp. 137-151.


Play is important to children's learning. When young children have interrupted time to playfully and independently explore, discover, investigate and experiment in stimulating, safe and varied environments, critical thinking and scientific inquiry are promoted. Notably, facilitating on-the-spot observations related to the 'nature of science' during play provides diverse opportunities to support children to construct scientific knowledge as a process of inquiry. This chapter describes the importance of play in early childhood and the 'nature of science' in the early years. This is followed by four case studies that highlight how studying scientific phenomena can be facilitated through play. Each case study describes the context of the children's play and how the educator/teacher expands on this to encourage their scientific explorations and thinking. The development of the case studies occurred in a school inspired Reggio Emilia educational philosophy.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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