Understanding the importance of play in children’s development.

Background – Kaupapa

Taku mahi

A child’s work is play. They learn through play – by doing, interacting, watching, trying and experiencing a variety of challenges and problem-solving activities. Almost anything and everything can be made into a game or a resource that supports play and exploration.

Play can support all domains of development: social, cognitive, motor and language. It’s important for whānau to know how a baby’s brain develops. This helps them to maximise their baby’s learning opportunities for each domain and provide pēpi with appropriate playthings.

Taumauri – Mana aotūroa

The underlying philosophy of this wānanga is based on the principle ‘mana aotūroa’ – children learn through active exploration of their environment.

Tuari and ako

Learn and use the the words tuari and to embrace the kaupapa of this .


, , mihimihi

Welcome whānau as they arrive, and have drinks, refreshments and comfortable seating arranged.

Open with a karakia and a waiata, your own or see the ones provided.

Introduce the workshop

Give an overview. Emphasise that this workshop will centre on:

  • the value of play
  • brain development
  • music and movement
  • problem solving
  • singing
  • reading
  • emotions
  • feelings
  • sharing.

Explore what play looks like to us

Begin by placing large pictures on the floor – of random things or activities.

Ask whānau to choose a picture that reminds them of play when they were a child. In pairs, ask them to share their story about the picture with each other.

Encourage them by asking:

  • What do you think you learned from the game?
  • What things does your pēpi like to do, or play with?
  • What domain or domains of baby’s development do you think this supports? (Social, cognitive, motor and language.)
  • How can you help pēpi to get the most learning from this play?

Talk about how storytelling, reading and singing can be fun, and can help pēpi to learn about their feelings.

Discuss songs that are soothing and calming (like ), or songs that encourage activity and noise (like haka).


Explain this and encourage whānau to have a 2-minute discussion about its meaning.


Mā te whiritahi ka whakatūtuki ai ngā pūmanawa a tāngata.

Together, weaving the realisation of potential.


Choose a development domain, social, cognitive, motor or language. Using natural resources and household recycled materials, make a toy that’s appropriate for pēpi’s age and supports learning in this domain.


Bring everyone together for closing. Offer an opportunity for whānau to share their homemade toy or their experience of the hui.

Reflect on 'Taku mahi'. Close with a karakia and a waiata – your own or one of the ones provided.

Workshop materials

  • Tākai Whakatipu booklets(external link)
  • large printed pictures of objects and activities related to children's play
  • recycled materials
  • string
  • sticky tape
  • scissors
  • craft materials
  • book making materials