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The Palette of Play 🎨

Exploring the Five Characteristics of Play

What are the characteristics of play, and what do they look like in the classroom?

We’ve compiled a fun gallery showcasing snapshots of joy, meaning, engagement, iteration, and social interaction in action. These snapshots aren’t just moments; they’re the building blocks of an enriching educational experience.

Dive in and see if you can catch these characteristics in your next classroom adventure! 😊


Learning through play isn’t just child’s play; it’s an intricate dance of joy, meaning, engagement, iteration, and social interaction. Let’s break down the magic:


Picture a child’s face lighting up with joy while conquering a challenge or revelling in a moment of surprise during play. Joy fuels learning, and positive experiences are like rocket fuel for little minds. The unexpected often sparks more learning than the expected.


In the world of play, meaning arises when children connect new experiences to what they already know. Whether mimicking actions observed or experimenting with tools, play becomes a canvas for expressing and expanding their understanding. It’s a journey of exploration, filled with various media, symbols, and tools.

Actively Engaging

Mental immersion and unwavering focus are the superpowers of active engagement in learning through play.


From toddlers stacking blocks in different ways to young minds experimenting with angles, iteration is the name of the game. Trying, revising, discovering – this cycle of exploration leads to deeper learning. It’s not just about the destination; it’s about the journey of trying, failing, and trying again.

Socially Interactive

Communicating thoughts, understanding others, and sharing ideas forge not only enjoyable connections but also a deeper understanding and stronger relationships. Learning becomes a collective experience.

Remember, these characteristics aren’t rigid rules; while not all five may be present simultaneously, over time, children should dance through moments of different characteristics in their playful learning journey.

*Source of the characteristics of play: LEGO® Foundation


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