Family camping trips create play spaces for 18 month old children


Family camping trips create a dramatic playworld

Here is an example of a Playworld that can start on the spot with under 2’s.

  1. Have a social/collective character
  2. Be imaginative
  3. Be creative
  4. Be developed over time
  5. Be challenging
  6. Have a narrative structure

1. Have a social/collective character.
Samuel used the bark pieces in the outdoor environment to construct with, making them into one big pile. Mel the Educator asked Samuel “what is it?” Samuel said “fire.” Mel asked “like the fire you made with Daddy on your camping trip?” Samuel replied “yes” and nodded his head as he continued to build the fire.

2 and 3. Be imaginative and creative.
Planning the Playworld environment on the spot
Mel the Educator extended on Samuel’s interest inside. Mel set up a campsite with pots, pan and a fire made from cellophane. Samuel was intrigued by this as he gathered around. Matt the Educator placed the pan onto the fire and asked Samuel, “What can we cook?” Samuel replied “eggs.” Matt then asked him “where can we get the eggs?” Samuel walked over to the home corner, returning with an egg and placing it into the pan.

Samuel’s friends Archie, Harriet and Ignatius showed interest as they also began to gather items from the home corner and place them into the pan on the fire (actively contributing to the experience.) Matt then exclaimed “our food is ready.” Samuel walked back to the home corner where he grabbed the plates in a basket. Harriet and Archie enjoyed sharing Samuel’s family culture as they were watching and learning. Matt saw the opportunity to use the family culture of camping as a Playworld experience.  They continued to engage in pretend play freely recreating this camping experience.

Then Matt said, “Can you hear that? It’s the doorbell. I wonder who is at the door?” The children looked around, then Harriet went to the door reaching at the handle.

“Oh, the dinosaur family have come for lunch. Please let them in Harriet” said Matt.

The play was now extended by the Adult (Matt) who added a challenge of introducing and feeding the dinosaur family.

Samuel and Archie brought the dinosaurs over and placed them on the table. “What will they eat Samuel?” asked Matt. Archie proceeded to place the plates and food for the dinosaurs to eat while Ava and Samuel went back to the fire to get the dinosaur family some food.

See how planning the play environment occurs on the spot. The narrative structure identified was: We need to eat.

This play experience lasted for about 40 minutes because the educator asks questions, created challenges and played a role/character in the Playworld.

These questions and challenges can be simple things like:

  • The doorbell rings and it’s the dinosaur family
  • What are they going to eat?
  • I need some tomato sauce. Can you find me some?
  • What are we going to do with all the dirty dishes?
  • I’m feeling cold. How could we get warmer?
  • Oh no the fire is too big. What will we do now?

 Another example

This morning Vivienne put the baby doll in a high chair. Aas Miss Sheryn entered the room Vivienne approached her and asked “you put it down for me.” The high chairs were then lowered creating ease of access for the children.

Vivienne, James and Ben each had a doll in a high chair and were using various pieces of the home corner food to ‘feed them’. The educator extended the children’s thinking by asking “when Miss Alicia and Miss Frances feed the babies, what do they use?”

James: Cup

Vivienne: Spoon, we need a spoon

James and Miss Sheryn began looking in the boxes for some spoons but were unable to locate any. The educator then modelled problem solving by asking, “if we can’t find them what could we do?”

Vivienne pointed to the door saying, “get some out there.”

Following this suggestion Miss Sheryn asked Miss Mel for some spoons.

Vivienne, James, Ben, Alex, Abbie, Charlotte and Gabriella all had spoons and bowls and proceeded to feed their babies.

As the play progressed the children moved the highchairs into the centre of the room.

Miss Sheryn: What‟s your baby eating?

Vivienne: umm banana

Ben: It’s hot.

James: It’s some food.

Charlotte: sandwich.

The babies’ bottles were then placed on a table by the educator in an attempt to again extend upon the children’s thinking. We challenged our physical skills as we learnt how to put them together.

When asked what you put in babies’ bottles Gabriella announced “MILKSHAKE” which the other children eagerly agreed with.

Demonstrating another level of complexity in understanding the children began took the bottles to the home corner sink to ‘fill them up’.

We were able to further the experience by extending dolls’ play into outdoor play as well. The children’s complete engagement in this experience also allowed for a progressive morning tea to be attempted in the room today.


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