As you can see, the Play Framework has a three-step structure:
- Forms of play.
- Features of play.
- Outcomes of play.
The three steps work together to aid children's development through play. Let's see it in action through a game of tag.
Forms of play
These are the different elements of play you could include in sessions. Using social, object, imaginative, and physical play helps to develop your children's language, social, motor, and self-help skills. It might feel daunting to introduce all of them at once, so you can just begin with one.
For a game of tag, you can use each form of play in multiple ways. You could introduce imaginative play to the game by telling a short story and giving each child a character to play. They could be pirates, wizards, or even aliens. They could tag each other by pointing a wand and shouting the magic word. Children have incredible imaginations, so don't hesitate to ask for their input.
Introducing object play into a game of tag could be as simple as having a bib tucked into their shorts that has to be pulled out to be tagged. Or you could give each child a hoop to roll around the pitch, and the tagger has to throw a ball through it to tag them. A simple way to introduce a football to the session is to give each child a ball that they need to protect while avoiding being tagged. You know your children best, so adapt the game to their abilities.
Social play is already a big part of tag, so lean into this. Encourage your children to release as many tagged players as possible. Watch closely – did anyone try to free a friend even though it put them at risk? Notice and mention these critical moments.
Physical play is probably the form of play that comes most naturally to you when thinking of a game of tag, but it's not just running around. You could incorporate a rule for being released, for example, five star jumps, or hopping or skipping out of a particular area. Try and get the children moving in lots of different ways to develop their fundamental movements.
Features of play
Using each form of play helps bring out the features of play. These can be applied to any game or activity and support your children's development.
We want children to feel empowered in sport, to have a 'voice and choice'. Make sure you are listening to your children. Ask their opinion and react to it. In tag, ask for their suggestions on what they can do to release themselves and implement it in the game.
Collaboration and competition are essential to development, so try incorporating this into your game. Instead of just having one tagger, have two or three and make them work together. Give each team goals to work towards, with points on offer to the winners. As your children become more familiar with the game, increase the level of competition. While we want children to participate in every game, each child can do different things. Children will engage in different ways, and each child will join in the game in a way that is right for them. Younger children may prefer to untag their teammates, as opposed to older children who like being the tagger, and that's ok.
Finally, remember, your children should enjoy the game. Change up the rules to keep children excited and motivated. Be flexible with the game; if children don't like a particular rule, then change it. If some children prefer to tag by being a wizard and others prefer to be pirates, let them. Let the children guide you on what is fun for them.
Outcomes of play
Using these forms and features of play helps bring the best outcomes of play. In tag, this means your children learn more effectively, develop personally, socially, and physically, and work on their communication and language skills – all while taking part in a fun game.
Create the best environment for play
Creating a great environment for the children in your group is very important. You want them to know you're happy they come to the session. You want them to feel welcomed, included, and comfortable.