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Creating a Curiosity Playspace by thinking like a child

To create the spark that incites curiosity, it is essential to remain open-minded and ready to capture the special moments when ideas take flight.

Written by: Early Educational Advisor - Jo Harris  

Attempting to describe curiosity can be difficult, as it is an attribute considered subjective and in some senses, invisible to others. It is often hidden within until it is expressed physically when it is shared, when it feels real, and infectious within a community of like-minded learners. 

To create the spark that incites curiosity, it is essential to remain open-minded and ready to capture the special moments when ideas take flight. This is important to both children, the resources offered, and how they will be used. 

Adults often think of how resources should be used to extend their lives. On the other hand, children see materials and how they would be used. 

Finding a happy medium might mean that adults and educators must be willing to meet children somewhere in the middle of the two. In doing so, there is an opportunity set the tone for learning with a bridging question - how could they be used?

Mixing resources can lead to new and deeper ways of investigating

Staging play spaces that invite provocations, including the mixing of resources, require some general considerations before they are offered to children and within the scope of their development. 

1. It is the possibilities that generate excitement and interest in children.

2. Be comfortable mixing items and textures that do not seem to go together naturally.

3. Utilise children’s questions and the way you have observed them using other materials

4. Include children’s suggestions and ways of engaging with materials through a developmental lens 

5. Keep an open mind and a playful attitude to your planning - it’s contagious!

You could use a large or mini Tuff Tray to set up a whimsical experience of colour that invites the exploration of other senses, even through the children’s imaginations. Adding a range of textures such as Abel blocks, Papoose Asters, and coloured Bottles with Grapat resources can be the source of conversations linked to maths, science, and structuring elements.

Encourage children to explore materials as they want and need to 

Planting a living garden has many benefits, but waiting to ‘see’ and harvest the results can feel like a long time in young children’s minds. Having an interactive felt vegetable garden nearby allows children to explore what is happening underneath the soil. They can plant and harvest as many times as they like with the felt vegetables, posting them in the slits of the soil bed, with no damage to the living garden.

The Billy Kidz Snack Shop set up with an assortment of felt, wood, and plastic food sets, encourages children to make their favourite snacks and meals. Adding food puzzles and sensory stones can stimulate ideas for children to add to their indoor or outdoor role play.

With many designed to be waterproof, they can be cleaned easily and have no toxic chemicals for children to ingest if they are still orally exploring materials.

Think and play in colour 

We all respond to colour, from those around us in the natural environment to those that make up our learning spaces and places within the resources chosen. There is an automatic tendency to group things to help make sense of and order the world. This is the same for children, and when interacting with them, we can teach them the basics of classification through that stimulation. 

Each colour has energy and frequency, which can be explored through play activities. Children can discover the feelings and responses they perceive during experiences, such as exploring music with the Wooden Pat Bells and questioning their sound and tone properties. 

Proposing open-ended questions and discussions can support children and the development of skills, including concentration, reasoning and problem-solving. Including multicoloured Spiral Bowls to store items that are easily accessible to children may lead to conversations about how they were made and are held together. Turning over Glow Construction Cubes could lead to children adding them to other areas of play and used to represent concepts like ‘night time’ or lights on cars or transport. 

Escape your imagination and take it on the move!

Remaining flexible in children's play areas will give them the confidence to continue exploring and staying curious. If there were safety concerns, asking a few questions is another opportunity for them to join that dialogue. 

Areas we might not ever consider can become possibilities in children’s minds. With some consideration and collaborative thinking, learning can become more meaningful than a potential rule they must adhere to. 

A functional play space offers flexibility and freedom. Instant play areas can be created and transported with Play pouches that keep everything together in one place. After finding a place to set them up, spread them out, and the play can begin. When finished, they can be closed by pulling on the attached rope to keep everything inside together. 

For more ideas and information about creating play spaces that promote curiosity in children’s learning, please visit


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