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Types of play – onlooker

Outside in the den, two children (2 year olds) are playing with some small world animals and the bark chippings that are scattered on the ground. The practitioner is in the den supporting their play. Another younger child (18 moths) comes to see what is happening. She watches the children play and sits on the practitioners lap.

Good for looking at

  • Types of play - onlooker play
  • Small world play
  • Learning outdoors
  • Dens
  • Early socialising with peers
  • Effective adult support


  • What cues can you see that show what the child is interested in? (Look out for non-verbal and body language as well as spoken language)
  • How the child is learning?
  • Which areas of play, development, engagement and characteristics of learning can you observe?
  • In what ways does the adult support the child’s learning?
  • How does the outdoor environment support the child’s learning?