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Definition

Construction play is when children manipulate objects in their environment to create things in an organised and goal-oriented way. Examples of construction play are when children build towers and cities with blocks, play in the sand, paint, or use modelling clay. Construction play allows children to experiment with objects; find out combinations that work and don’t work; and learn about stacking, building, drawing, making music and constructing. Research has found correlations between construction play, visuospatial skills and mathematics.

See also: Object play

Basilio, M. (2016) Children's playfulness, self-regulation and collaborative skills in group story telling (Video Recording)

Abstract:

Part of the seminar on the relationships between dialogue and children’s self regulation, July 2016

Author/s:
Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
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Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Literacy
  • Pretend play
  • Self-regulation
  • Social play
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

BBC, . et al. (2017) PEDAL | BBC Breakfast report on playful writing (Video Recording)

Abstract:

Acting Director of PEDAL Centre, David Whitebread, is interviewed in BBC Breakfast report on playful writing.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2017
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Academic achievement
  • Academic outcomes
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Engagement
  • Guided-play
  • Learning
  • Playful learning
  • Pretend play
  • Social-emotional
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:
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Bruce, T. et al. (2008) I made a unicorn. Open-ended play with blocks and simple materials (Report)

Abstract:

Open-ended play with blocks and simple materials

Although children's play just happens spontaneously, it is complex and comes in myriad forms.
One universal type is open-ended play, also known as free-flow play, in which the children themselves determine what to do, how to do it, and what to use. Open-ended means not having a fixed answer; unrestricted; allowing for future change. In the course of such play, children have no fear of doing it wrong since there is no correct method or outcome; and observant adults are privileged with insights into children's development and thinking.

Open-ended play is intrinsic to childhood; children have an impetus to explore and create. When free to experiment with the simplest materials, they find ways to express and develop their thoughts in imaginative play.

Date:
January 2008
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Volume:
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Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Learning
  • Object play
  • Outdoor play
  • Pretend play
  • Well-being outcomes
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Canning, N. (2013) "Where's the Bear? Over There!"--Creative Thinking and Imagination in Den Making (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This small scale research project examines opportunities for creative thinking and imagination through den making in a rural private day nursery with its own woodland area on the borders of England and Wales in the UK. The research is underpinned by sociocultural theory and is an ethnographic study of non-participant observations of children aged between three and four years old and early years practitioners involved in supporting their play. The focus is on children's creative play in peer social groups and examines the way in which children explore their environment and utilise their play space and resources to sustain imagination and creativity. The research considers how the environment and den-making context provides opportunities for possibility thinking [Craft, A. (2001). "Little c creativity." In A. Craft, B. Jeffrey, & M. Liebling (Eds.), "Creativity in education" (pp. 45-61). London: Continuum], where children are encouraged to explore "what if?" questions. The research explores the way in which an outdoor environment can support flexible opportunities and resources where children are able to engage in imaginative and creative play, develop their communication skills and build relationships with other children and adults. The research considers children's fascination with the story "bears in the wood" and how early years practitioners facilitated their creative thinking and imagination.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
183
Page/s:
1042-1053
Synonyms:
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Outdoor play
  • Peers play
  • Playful learning
  • Pretend play
  • Qualitative methodology
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

Dansereau, D. (2015) Young Children's Interactions with Sound-Producing Objects (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to observe, analyze, and document the range of young children's interactions with sound-producing objects in order to better understand the nature of such interactions. Of particular interest was whether theories of cognitive play, social play, object play, and existing research on musical play could guide concurrently the interpretation of children's interactions with these objects and whether the interactions were consistent with these theories. Two groups of participants, nine 3-year-old children and seven 4-year-old children, played with sound-producing objects for approximately 15 min once a week for 12 weeks. Participants interacted with the objects in rich and varied ways, including explorations of the objects' sound-producing capabilities and other physical attributes, nonmusical and musical functional and pretend play episodes, and construction behaviors. Movement and singing often were layered upon the children's interactions with the objects. Musical functional play was the most frequently observed behavior across both ages of participants. The children were more likely to engage in solitary/parallel behaviors than group interactions, and group interactions were more common among the 4-year-old children than the 3-year-olds. All behaviors that were anticipated via the conceptual framework were observed, with the exception of group nonmusic exploration.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Volume:
63
Page/s:
28-46
Synonyms:
  • Exploratory play
  • Functional play
  • Musical play
  • Peers play
  • Play assessment
  • Pretend play
  • Semiotic play
  • Solitary play
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

Foundation, . (2015) Building children's writing skills through learning through play (Video Recording)

Abstract:

The University of Cambridge and the LEGO Foundation has explored how learning through play helps children develop better writing skills.

You can read about the project in more detail here: https://goo.gl/Wk9aef

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Literacy
  • Object play
  • Pretend play
  • Semiotic play
  • Social play
  • Symbolic play
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

Foundation, . (2015) What is Play? Play experts revealing their secrets... (Film)

Abstract:

Adults talk a lot about play, pretending they know what it is and what it's good for. We have asked a couple of real experts about what it is and what it feels…

What is Play? Play experts revealing their secrets... from LEGO Foundation on Vimeo.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2015
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
Synonyms:
  • Object play
  • Physical play
  • Rough and tumble
  • Semiotic play
  • Symbolic play
  • Construction play
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Research discipline:

Janet, M. et al. (2015) Play beyond the Foundation Stage: play, self-regulation and narrative skills (Book Section)

Abstract:

This is a must-read book for all students studying early childhood at a range of levels and practitioners who are looking to deepen their understanding of play and playful practices.

Date:
January 2015
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
84-93
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Creativity
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Guided-play
  • Literacy
  • Playful learning
  • Pretend play
  • Self-regulation
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

McInnes, K. et al. (2009) Behavioural differences exhibited by children when practising a task under formal and playful conditions (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Play is viewed as central to learning in the early years despite a lack of empirical evidence to support this. Most research has concentrated on adult definitions of play which fail to capture the intrinsic quality of playfulness. To achieve this it is necessary to elicit children's definitions of play. The research discussed in this paper utilises children's definitions of play to create formal and playful practice conditions to demonstrate the links between playfulness and learning. In addition, analysis of videotaped observations indicates behavioural differences according to whether children participate in playful or formal practice conditions. These findings support a behavioural threshold and fluency theory of play. Children in the playful condition exhibited more fluent and purposeful problem solving behaviours than children in the formal condition. Implications for practitioners in educational settings are outlined.

Date:
January 2009
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
26
Page/s:
31-39
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Cooperative play
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Engagement
  • Games with rules
  • Learning
  • Object play
  • Playfulness
  • Problem-solving
  • Self-regulation
  • Semiotic play
  • Social-emotional
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:

Nath, S. et al. (2014) Construction play and cognitive skills associated with the development of mathematical abilities in 7-year-old children (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Construction play is thought to develop logico-mathematical skills, however the underlying mechanisms have not been defined. In order to fill this gap, this study looks at the relationship between Lego con- struction ability, cognitive abilities and mathematical performance in 7-year-old, Year 2 primary school children (N 1⁄4 66). While studies have focused on the relationship between mathematics performance and verbal memory, there are limited studies focussing on visuospatial memory. We tested both vi- suospatial and verbal working memory and short term memory, as well as non-verbal intelligence. Mathematical performance was measured through the WIAT-II numerical operations, and the word reading subtest was used as a control variable. We used a Lego construction task paradigm based on four task variables found to systematically increase construction task difficulty. The results suggest that Lego construction ability is positively related to mathematics performance, and visuospatial memory fully mediates this relationship. Future work of an intervention study using Lego construction training to develop visuospatial memory, which in turn may improve mathematics performance, is suggested.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2014
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
32
Page/s:
73-80
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Correlational
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Numeracy
  • Working memory
  • Construction play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: