Let Students Learn through Play –
Promoting Active and Pleasurable English Learning through Play
in Key Stage 1
Jojo CHAN, Jonathan LEE, Winnie SO Coordinator:
Advisory Teaching Team, NET Section
• The 6 types of Play
• The Playful Classroom
• Teachers’ Roles and Children’s Roles
• Research Questions
• Project Objectives
• Project Design
The 4 Stations
• Small World Play
• Book Nook
• The Writing Table
In play children develop exploratory as well as explanatory drives: they actively look for patterns, test hypotheses and seek explanations, leading to increased complexity in thinking,
learning and understanding (Gopnik et al, 1999). These cognitive processes are socially and culturally situated and,
through the subject disciplines, can become increasingly refined.
(Wood, E. & Attfield, J., 2005)
Apart from being an ideal mode of activity
fostering children’s physical and psychological development, play facilitates the development of creativity, problem-solving skills and
versatility, and it also helps children express emotions, build confidence and develop social skills. (CDC, 2017)
To explore and develop approaches to developing a learning environment conducive to students’ learning of English through play;
To develop classroom routines that facilitate the adoption of playful approaches to literacy development;
To design, conduct and review English learning activities that promote active and pleasurable English learning through play;
Toengage participating teachers in developing, using and reviewing strategies for preparing students for, and engaging them in, active and pleasurable learning English through play;
To develop students’ creativity, social and collaboration skills, problem-solving skills, self- confidence, self-respect and respect for others; and
To develop, use and review strategies for using assessment for and as learning in a play-based learning environmentto promote self-directed learning
How can play-based learning be implemented and promoted in the English language classroom in the Hong Kong?
What are the conditions that need to be established to facilitate the implementation of play-based learning?
What curriculum development and pedagogical approaches and learning activities are effective in supporting a culture of learning through play?
How can teachers be empowered to have a playful mindset and become an agent of change?
What changes need to be made to existing practices in terms of curriculum design, teaching, learning and assessment?
The project is to be implemented, reviewed, refined and completed within a three-year time frame.
Schools joining in 2020/21 for the first time can choose to implement the project in P1
1. Unoccupied Play
2. Solitary Play
3. Onlooker Play
4. Parallel Play
5. Associative Play
6. Cooperative Play
Click to view a video on the 6 types
What DOES a Playful CLASSROOM LOOK like?
× a co-constructor of knowledge
× a creator of the environment as a third teacher
× an exchanger of understandings
× a supporter of the competent child
× a documenter and researcher
× a partner with parents
× a listener, provocateur, and negotiator of meaning
Involving Children in the Planning Process
Choose a theme and concepts
02 Step Two
Plan the unit together
Carry out the plan
Step 1: Choose a theme and concepts based on:
Curriculum requirements (*good
opportunities to develop learning across the curriculum as well*)
Children’s interests / experiences (Provide children with a list of topics to choose from)
Current issues / seasonal or global events
Popular stories / music (*Survey on children’s favourite books and songs*)
Field trips / tour / guest speakers or visitors (e.g. authors, parents who are doctors, vets, firemen…, SPCA…)
Step 2: Plan the unit together and ask Ss:
•What do we know already?
•What do we want to find out?
•Where can we find out more?
•How are we going to arrange our classroom?
•What do we have? What do we need?
•What can we bring?
•What can we make?
•Who can help us to learn more?
•Who can come to visit our class?
•Who are we going to tell?
Step 3: Carry out the plan Teacher:
Facilitate the setting up of the environment
Share learning intentions with the children
Develop an awareness of the strategies they employed
Encourage children to communicate their findings
Observe and intervene when appropriate
Extend thinking through effective questioning
Know when to bring the session to a conclusion
Identify and share with the children the skills being developed
Step 3: Carry out the plan Children:
Help set up the learning environment / activity areas
Choose an activity for the session
Access appropriate resources and know where to get necessary support and help
Create and try out possible solutions to a problem
Express ideas and draw conclusions
Set their own goals and monitor progress
Work individually, in pairs and in groups
Talk about their learning
Tidy up after play
Present their learning to others
Review and adjust the plan
Involving Children in the Planning Process
Demonstrate and review learning
Choose theme and concepts
Step 4: Review and adjust the process
The unit planning board should be on display in the classroom and should serve as a working document, frequently reviewed and visited by teachers and children.
Useful prompts to review learning:
What I enjoyed most was…
What I found interesting was…
What I need more help with when learning is…
What really made me think was…
I might have learnt better if…
I would change this activity to…
Step 5: Demonstrate and review learning
Evaluate the extent to which the goals set have been achieved
Include different assessment types in the unit
Children can demonstrate their
learning through drawings, lapbooks, poems, reports, explaining to others, presentations, drama, role-plays, digital photos, videos, audio
At this station, students exercise their imagination.
Small World Play allows students the opportunity to:
play together, self-regulate, exchange ideas and communicate feelings
create stories around things they are familiar with;
acquire new experiences and practise speaking and listening; and
improvise and use language in a meaningful way.
At this station, students create, design and investigate a variety of
materials, tools and techniques. Atelier allows students the opportunity to:
develop visual, spatial and tactile awareness;
experience sensory learning
practise gross motor control and fine motor control;
conceptually understand how the world works; and
invent and share new ideas.
At this station, students read for enjoyment in a relaxing and comfortable environment. Book Nook allows students the opportunity to:
generate new ideas;
research more on a particular topic;
make their own choices and decisions;
develop independence; and
present their ideas in different ways to show
At this station, students get to publish their work.
It provides a good balance of activities that develop fundamental writing skills. The Writing Table
allows students the opportunity to:
organise their ideas;
practise their fine motor skills;
extend their vocabulary; and
be exposed to creative use of the language.
•culture of collaboration
•project coordinator and committed
teaching team sharing values that support playful teaching and learning, committing to PD
•time for observation to facilitate assessment and planning for progression
•flexible with teaching schedules and modes of assessment
(allowing more space for experimenting with playful teaching and learning ideas)
•careful planning, organisation &
management of the environment
•allocation of an annual budget
•collaborating with AT
•appropriate storage and care of resources on loan from EDB
•providing feedback on project
implementation and evaluation
dissemination of good practices
Place your screenshot here
Net scheme e-platform
Fostering Learning Communities
among International Educators
Please read the Project Description
Appendix Cof the EDB Circular Memorandum No.6/2020
School Application Form to be completed by School Head and posted to:
Human Resource Management Unit of EDB 4/F, East Wing,
Central Government Offices,
2 Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar, Hong Kong
Deadline for Application:
9 March 2020
Ms Christy NG
(Life-wide Learning Section) Tel: 2892 5824
Project-related Ms Winnie SO
(Native-speaking English Teacher Section)
Department of Education and Training (2009). Belonging, Being & Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Australia Government.
Barblett, L. (2010). Why play-based learning? Every Child, 16(3), 4-5.
Briggs M. & Hansen A. (2012). Play-based Learning in the Primary School. London: Sage.
Curriculum Development Council (2017). Kindergarten Education Curriculum Guide: Joyful Learning through Play, Balanced Development All the Way. Hong Kong: Education Bureau.
Edwards, C. (2012). Teacher and learner, partner and guide: The role of the teacher. In: C. Edwards, L.
Gandini, and G. Forman (eds.) The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experiences in Transformation, 3rdedn. New York: Praeger, pp. 147-72.
Levy R. (2008). “Third spaces” are interesting places: Applying “third space theory” to nursery aged children’s constructions of themselves as readers’, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 8(1):43-66.
Shipley, D. (2008). Empowering children. Play-based curriculum for lifelong learning.(Fourth edn). USA:
Walsh G., McMillan D. & McGuinness C. (Eds). (2017). Playful Teaching and Learning. London: Sage.