A game of pirates

A group of four/five year olds play a game of pirates in the school garden. See how this pretend play develops imagination and self-regulation skills.

Good for looking at

  • Pretend play
  • Imagination
  • Socialising
  • Communication
  • Self-regulation

A group of four/five year olds are playing a game of pirates in the school garden.


  • What cues can you see that show what the children are interested in during their play? (Look out for non-verbal and body language as well as spoken language)
  • How are the children learning? Which areas of development, engagement and characteristics of learning can you observe?
  • Can you see evidence of any aspects of self-regulation?
  • How does the environment support the children’s learning?


What are your thoughts about:

  • The areas of learning and development that were covered through this play activity?
  • The self-regulation shown by the children (particularly the girl wearing the checked dress)
  • The importance of the environment and the materials for supporting the play?


What would you do to:

  • Further support the children’s self-regulation? Are there any games you can think of that can help this?
  • Use play to support the children’s social development?
  • Encourage the children to use their pretend play ideas to develop stories and narratives?

What next:

  • What could you do to encourage this kind of self-regulated behaviour in your setting?
  • Do you give enough time for older children to develop complex stories in their play?