Heuristic Play with Children in the Early Learning & Childcare Setting

How does a Frobelian approach and principles link to Heuristic Play?

Project author:

Project summary:


An observational study for children and families on using of Heuristic Play in the setting. What are the benefits for the children and how we implement Heuristic play with our children? Interacting with colleagues through questionnaires.How does Froebels approach link to Hesuristic Play?


This project looks at implementing the use of Heuristic Play within the setting. Currently Heuristic Play isn’t visible within the setting: To involve practitioners and families in engaging children: To explore the objects of interest: Looking at literature Developing Play for Under 3s the Treasure Basket and Heuristic Play (Anita M. Hughes). I have given myself the focus on how to introduce Heuristic play into the setting


I chose to do my research project on Heuristic Play due to the fact that it’s not present at this time within the nursery setting. As I am currently working with under 3s I have knowledge of how this play is developmentally appropriate and comes with so much benefits for children.

“Treasure baskets and heuristic play for the youngest children builds on Froebel’s emphasis on sensory-rich ,natural, open -ended resources with infinite possibilities and combinations”

I ensured that I gathered information from fellow practitioners by ways of questionnaires to gauge their knowledge, understanding and common misconceptions around Heuristic Play and the benefits that it has on children. I decided to initially observe the children with a small amount of Heuristic Play objects to see how they used and interacted with the materials. I am also going to implement focus group/stay and play sessions within the setting to introduce parents and families to the concept which may encourage play at home and beyond which doesn’t involve buying ‘toys’ but using everyday objects.


My research involves practitioners, children and families. I have to consider confidentiality due to families accessing the setting and the possibility off conversations between families. Before starting all participants will have the confidentiality policy explained to them and the importance of adhering to this at all times. Written parental permission will be collected before beginning the research, photographs and video recording to record evidence will be fully explained. I made sure that all participants understood that they can withdraw from this research at any time and it will not negatively impact the research.


Through my feedback from practitioner’s questionnaires it was made evident that most, although they understand the benefits of Heuristic Play there is a lot of concerns regarding safety of children, time factors, and lack of guidance/training on this. Therefore, it’s important that for the children to fully benefit from this play, practitioners need the opportunity to experience first-hand and have adequate training to help facilitate Heuristic Play.

Introducing Heuristic Play to the children.

I observed children were not engaged in some activities and were getting a little restless just before lunchtime. At that point I decided to introduce my Heuristic Play objects, as I brought it into the playroom ,this did gather some interest for children , I was surprised to observe that it was mostly boys and they came over to see what I had in the box. I couldn’t find anything to suggest the reason for this therefore I continued to encourage both boys and girls .

As the children sat down there were lots of grabbing the objects and the children weren’t listening to the instructions, they were easily distracted by the noise and the. going’s on in the playroom. It wasn’t really working the way I had envisioned , although a few children were keen to explore I found my objects were getting taking away and i had to collect them and put them back in the box. With discussions with my manager she suggested I use another room away from the main playroom. I set up the baby-room which isn’t being used just now and placed a blanket on the floor. The following day I invited the children to come with me this time it was before going home, 5 children chose to come 4 boys and 1 girl .  I took them into the quiet space where the objects were in the box on the floor. I asked the children to sit on the carpet where this time they responded and waited for me to provide the materials. It was such a contrast from the previous interactions , the children were more focused and engaged , showing real interest in the play material’s. More language was being used by the children.



I learned that to implement this experience with the children to gain the biggest impact I have to choose the time of day carefully and start of with a smaller group of children in a quiet area away from the main playroom . Preparing the children before hand so it can be explained what is going to happen . Adding more objects of different shape sizes , textures . This will allow for more children to participate in a larger group.
To sustain the project I’m going to provide practitioners with the knowledge they need so they can carry this out also. I will provide families with Heuristic stay and play groups where parents /carers can join their child and do Heuristic play sessions together.

Research implications

To be completed

Practitioner enquiry

To be completed

Leadership learning

To be completed

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

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