Play is central to learning in early childhood education, yet this ubiquitous concept is hard to define. This unit (ECE4001) draws on current research of play to extend students' understanding of play as critical to human belonging, being and becoming. This unit draws on students' prior experiences in Early Childhood contexts to understand play more deeply and from different perspectives and generate creative and imaginative ways for students to advocate for children's right to play. In this unit students will examine approaches to play including Fleer's conceptual playworld, Forest schools/bush kinder, PlayWork, Edwards digital play. There will be a focus on children's transition to primary school, and the changing role of play in primary school environments. Play therapy and the role of play in social justice will also be explored. Philosophical, practical, theoretical, and cultural contexts; psychology, play research, and brain research inform the learning in this unit.

Unit details

Online Real Time
Study level:
Credit points:
Unit code:


ECE2003 - History, Philosophy and Early Childhood Education

ECE2004 - Engaging with Place through Rethinking Childhoods and Development

ECE2005 - Engaging with Place through Play

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Articulate how belonging, being and becoming develops through play  
  2. Design contexts for play that nurture children's and teachers' lives  
  3. Advocate for play as a critical activity for human beings and particularly in early childhood  
  4. Critically analyse contemporary theories and pedagogies of play  


Assessment type Description Grade
Journal Record incidences of experienced and observed play 10%
Presentation Create a presentation to explain the benefits of play 40%
Creative Works Design a play event using material objects to advocate for the importance of play in early childhood education 50%

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

Study a single unit

This unit can be studied on its own, without enrolling in a full degree. Learn more about single units of study at VU.

VU takes care to ensure the accuracy of this unit information, but reserves the right to change or withdraw courses offered at any time. Please check that unit information is current with the Student Contact Centre.