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::: PLAY must happen before learning can occur!

Over the past month I have learnt SO much from Marc Armitage as I have accompanied him along the east coast of Australia where he has delivered thirty five workshops/presentations, reaching over 800 people!

Marc is now back home in the UK but my head is still spinning with all the information I was privileged to hear day after day at his workshops and night after night through his presentation.

I witnessed many a ‘light bulb moment’ but I think the most importanat message I saw people take away was this …

For many of the people in Marc’s workshops it was very clear to me that this was a real WOW factor for them. My favourite example was this. A teacher has decided to provide an activity for children to promote colour recognition, sharing with others, social play, fine motor muscles excercise and mathematical concepts. He has therefore provide the children with some brightly coloured blocks in order to achieve these outcomes.

As a playworker, Marc would say WAIT-A-MINUTE!!!

Because play MUST come first in order for children to learn, what we really SHOULD be doing is simply provide the children with a tub of brightly coloured blocks with which to PLAY and wait and see what develops.

By providing something for the children to ‘simply play with’ you will find that they will end up developing their colour recognition. They will learn to share the equipment with others. They have the opportunity to choose to play socially. Their fine motor muscles will develop and through building, mathematical concepts will naturally take place!

It makes so much sense. From now on I will always remember to provided PLAY for the pure enjoyment of PLAY and understand that learning WILL take place.

Do NOT preempt the learning outcomes …

AIM to provide the PLAY

and the LEARNING WILL happen!

 Marc Armitage will be returning to Australia in April AND October 2013. For more information on his return tours you can email

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16 Responses to “PLAY must happen before learning can occur!”

  1. Brooke says:

    I am a child carer studying to be an early years teacher and I attended Marc’s presentation on the ‘do’ approach in Tasmania last week. I was very impressed and inspired and look forward to hearing him speak again. I would love to know if he will be back in Tassie, or if my colleagues and I need to start saving for a trip interstate!

    ::: Brooke Tasmania is definitely a goer for next year. We just need to work a few things through to decide if it will be on his return visit in April OR October … Watch this space! 🙂 🙂

  2. Barbara Gini says:

    Does Mark have any plans to come to the United States in the near future? I would love to attend one of his workshops.

    ::: Well, well, well Barbara … It just so happens that plans are being drawn up right now for Marc Armitage to tour the east coast of the USA in Feb/March 2013. You could contact Suzanna over at Pop-Up Adventure Play for details – AND check out their Facebook page for regular updates – 🙂 🙂

  3. katie says:

    . YES! I totally agree! This is whay I strive to do each day with my babies. Thankyou!

    ::: Hee hee hee … You’re welcome Katie. 🙂 🙂

  4. Donna says:

    After teaching 30 years with prescribed curriculum to lower elementary grades I now find myself in a Pre-K classroom. The adjustment is so difficult that I find myself just standing in my room staring and wondering what to do with 20 little four and five-year-olds. Would love to attend a conference in the Midwest USA.

    ::: Donna you should get in touch with Morgan and Suzanna from “Pop-Up Adventure Play”… They are bringing Marc to the USA around February next year. Fingers crossed you are able to get to one of his gigs. I KNOW he will be an inspiration to you! You can email Suzanna at … 🙂 🙂

  5. Jo Caller says:

    Hi Donna and Sherry, I sure hope there will be more Sydney workshops next visit …one on the Northern Beaches would be FANTASTIC 🙂 I am desperate to hear Marc speak!

    ::: Jo email me at and I will pop you on ‘The List’ to ensure you are notified as to where Marc will be speaking next year. 🙂 🙂

  6. Maureen says:

    Great to hear that understanding about the importance of children’s play is growing. At Playcentres in New Zealand we’ve been baseing our programmes on ideas like Marc champions for over 70 years. In addition, we encourage the parents to play alongside their child and other children, and help them learn how to do this without ‘taking over’. We believe that play is an important first step for parents’ learning, especially about how to provide play opportunities for their child and others, without stress, and to recognise the learning that occurs.

    ::: We LOVE your philosophy Maureen. We would be very keen to learn more about your Playcentres! 🙂 🙂

  7. Bianca says:

    I love it when people advocate for play…it’s power is contageous! Once you see it it’s hard to go back. Thanks for sharing some of the inspiration 🙂 🙂 🙂

    ::: You’re very welcome Bianca! 🙂 🙂

  8. Hi Sherry and Donna,

    Have just stumbled on your blog and really love it. Just a quick question, do you think that the play required before learning is dependent on exercise or mental stimulation? For example, could kids play a computer game before learning, or is it the movement of play which stimulates learning?

    ::: Justin, we see play as that time when children get to do what they want to do without adults directing them … or as one child said “Play is what I do when adults stop telling me what to do!” While outdoor play and exercise is fabulous for their mind AND body, certainly computer games provide children with stimulation and it CAN also be a very social form of play. We believe a balance holds the key to happy children and happy children will be happy learners because if we can provide those free choice PLAY times then learning WILL happen. 🙂 🙂

  9. Melissa says:

    This guy needs to have a serious sit down chat with those who wrote the latest National Curriculum in Australia. Play in Australia is being eroded!!! It’s scary how much teachers are being forced to teach formal lessons in Prep settings. It just wasn’t like that when i was teaching 6 years ago. Play based learning used to be the way to go, but not so with this new curriculum! My prep aged niece is learning the same sightwords and is writing more than my class one daughter! It’s jolly curriculum creep!

    ::: Actually Melissa, Marc did meet with the DEECD while he was in Australia recently … Fingers crossed they listened to him! 🙂 🙂

  10. Nadia Ballarin says:

    As with Justin, I’ve just discovered your blog. As a primary teacher of around 40 years, who strongly believes in play based learning in all grade levels, even in grade 6, I find your ideas exciting, information thorough and links very useful and beneficial to all those who love to see children happy, well balanced and who have ownership in their learning. Thank you.

    ::: Thanks for your lovely comment Nadia … We LOVE that you believe in our philosophy, especially ALL the way through Primary School. 🙂 🙂

  11. […] as Marc Armitage says “Play MUST happen BEFORE learning can occur“. Not “Play is something that can add to the ‘real’ learning that happens […]

  12. Jenny Ryan says:

    Hello, will Marc be coming to Brisbane in 2013?

    Thanks, Jenny

    ::: Marc will be coming to Brisbane on May 11th Jenny … Check out this link for more details 🙂 🙂

  13. Carol Salita says:

    I do agree: children are at their best when they enjoy what they are doing.Thus, there is learning in playing. In the classroom, I used controlled play activities and teaching the lessons to our kids becomes easy and enjoyable time not only to the kids but to us teachers as well.
    Thank you for sharing. Looking forward for more shares. 🙂

  14. Krystal says:

    Completely agree. Some of the best learning can come from play-even lessons we didn’t even think of!

  15. Vivian McDermott says:

    someone should tell the policy makers,as they keep changing the goalposts.
    It is simply ridiculous.
    Vivian McDermott