Patterns in play
Updated: May 16
By Jennifer Sablinskis
Patterns of repeated behaviour are called Schemas. These patterns allow children to explore and develop their play through their thoughts and ideas. Schemas are a natural part of children’s play and development and help explain why some children show such persistence and determination to do things in a certain way.
By spotting and encouraging patterns in your children’s play and by offering them more ideas or materials, you are helping your children to learn. There are several different Schemas. Below are some ideas to try with your children for each schema they may be exploring in their world.
Creating lines in space by climbing up and jumping down or dropping items from up high.
Throwing at a target
Chasing games like tag
Pushing a toy off the table and seeing where it lands
Roll cars or balls down a ramp or postal tube
Water poured into a river dug in a sandpit
Spin and twirl ribbons
Lining items up and putting them in groups.
Peg boards to create patterns
Hide n seek
Stacking and unstacking
Adding boundaries to play areas e.g. fences around animals
Hide n seek
Tents, tunnels and cardboard boxes
Shoe boxes to make homes for small world toys
Create burrows in wet sand, clay or playdoh
Make a zoo or farm play area using twigs, blocks, bark, icypole sticks for fences, bridges and walls to create boundaries
Setting out and dismantling tracks, constructing, joining items together with tape or glue.
Collage and junk-modelling
Threading beads or pasta
Lego, Duplo, octons, connecta straws
Sticky tape, glue, stapler (under supervision!), blu-tack
String, wool, ribbon
Peg washing on the line
Connect plumbers piping
Dress up clothes with different fastenings i.e. velcro, hook & eye, press studs, zippers
Carrying or moving items from one place to another or carrying items in containers or bags.
Picking produce from your veggie garden
Nature items such as acorns, pinecones, pebbles, shells, autumn leaves
Droppers and syringes for science experiments or colour mixing
An interest in positioning themselves or objects in different places or positions e.g upside down or on their side.
Hang upside down from monkey bars
Lie flat on the floor when playing with toy vehicles
See the world from atop an adult's shoulders
Binoculars and a magnifying glass
Put mirrors on the floor to explore different ways of looking at materials
Cut a picture or drawing in half and hold it up against a mirror to discover a complete picture in the reflection
Enjoys spinning items round and round. Likes to run around in circles or being swung round.
Connect nuts and bolts
Wheels on cars, trains and bicycles
Use screwdrivers and spanners (under supervision!)
Turn keys in locks and padlocks
Draw spirals in sand or with finger paint
Mix and whisk cake ingredients
Make a spinning top - wind and twist them on the swing and let them spin fast to unwind
Borrow a turning table or Gonge carousel from our collection
Covering themselves or objects completely. Wrapping items up or placing them in containers.
Use posting toys, Russian dolls, nesting toys and shape sorters
Wrap up baby dolls in blankets
Play doctors or vets with plenty of bandages
Make sock or glove puppets
Wrap up parcels and use paper, newspaper, string, sticky tape, ribbons. Play pass the parcel
Make a den or cubby
Borrow a Body Sock from our collection
Jennifer is a mother of two boys and a Maroondah Toy Library member. She has worked in Children’s Services for 14 years specifically with children on the Autism Spectrum (ASD) and other disabilities as an ABA educational & behavioural therapist and integration aide both at home, kindergartens and schools.
She holds a double degree from Deakin University in Arts & Health Sciences majoring in Psychology, Disability Studies, Linguistics & Exercise Behaviour.
She is passionate about toys, low waste and teaching children with additional needs, helping them learn new skills.