How to Implement Play-Based Learning into Your Classroom


Learners learn cognitive, social, and physical skills during play tasks. Tasks can be instructor-led with specific goals or unstructured learner-led play. This instructional strategy acknowledges that children tend to learn best through playing.


  • Engagement: Learners may be more engaged during active play-based learning compared to instructor-centered instruction.
  • Cognition: Learners have the opportunity to learn through discovery and trial-and-error, helping to build neural pathways
  • Social: Learners play together, cultivating communication, group work, and negotiation skills.
  • Physical: Play engages fine and gross motor skills, helping learners improve physical abilities.


  • Many people, including many parents and some education administrators, may believe play has no educational benefit.
  • Parents may frown upon this tactic for older learners, despite its advantages across age groups.
  • Many people believe that the risks of injury during play-based learning are too high.


  1. Use modeled instruction to show learners how to play with developmentally appropriate toys and puzzles. Use puzzles that require mathematical skills that connect with current learning outcomes.
  2. Provide learners with puzzles and allow free, unstructured playtime.
  3. Mingle with the learners, assisting them through prompting and guiding questions.
  4. End the learning activity with a group discussion of what students learned during the activity.
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