Literacy Teaching Toolkit video: Making meaning through play

In this video, educators demonstrate ways of creating responsive play experiences for building children’s meaning-making.

 The video also explores the importance of contextualised (everyday, informal) language, and decontextualised (more specific, formal) language, as well as ways to scaffold and extend on children’s communication.

Reflective practice


  • The multiple opportunities for extending on children’s language.
  • The ways that educators build upon children’s interests.
  • The ways that educators created numerous opportunities for talk and interaction during these situations.
  • The ways educators narrate their own, and children’s actions (self-talk and parallel talk).
  • The interactions between children and educators during play.

Reflection questions

  • What practical strategies do the educators describe or demonstrate in the video?
  • How do the educators alternate between child-directed, guided and adult-led play and learning in this video?
  • What does the first educator mean by “challenging children” in their learning?
  • What is meant by the term decontextualised language (written language style)?
    • See the Higher order language page for full explanation.
  • What learning did you observe? How do you know?

Learning experience plan

This learning experience plan relates to:

  • interacting with others
  • early communicators, early language users (birth - 48months)
  • learning foci: making meaning and expressing ideas (interacting with others), conversation and social skills
  • teaching practices: play.

Group size

Individuals or small group (2-5 children).

Links to VEYLDF

Outcome 1: identity

Children feel safe, secure and supported:

  • confidently explore and engage with social and physical environments through relationships and play.

Outcome 4: learning

Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity:

  • use play to investigate, imagine and explore ideas.

Outcome 5: communication

Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes:

  • contribute their ideas and experiences in play and small and large group discussion
  • exchange ideas, feelings and understandings using language and representations in play.

Victorian curriculum levels F-2: language and literacy

  • Understand the use of vocabulary in familiar contexts related to everyday experiences, personal interests and topics taught at school.
  • Listen to and respond orally to texts and to the communication of others in informal and structured classroom situations using interaction skills, including listening, while others speak.

General strategies demonstrated in video

  • Modelling everyday and more advanced language during play.
  • Thinking of key language concepts to embed in play interactions:
    • words for objects, places, people, descriptive and action words, location words
    • more abstract concepts, such as those to do with feelings or time.
  • Scaffolding children’s language by using language stimulation strategies during play:
    • for example self-talk and parallel talk, expansions, extensions.
  • Using a variety of question types during play:
    • closed questions for checking comprehension, or guiding an experience in a specific direction
    • why and how questions, to encourage children to explain their thinking, and predict what will happen next
    • open-ended questions to stimulate extended discussion (for example “tell me about this playdough. What do you think we should do?”).
  • Going further

    Everyday situation experiences can be extended by:

    • making note of children’s interests observed during play
    • considering potential storybook, nonfiction book, fine arts, and performing arts experiences to build upon these interests.

    Related videos and learning experience plans


    Experience plans

    Links to sections