How to support play based pedagogies with tech today

By Michael Hilkemeijer


In the early childhood learning environment, learning through play is one of the most important ways for young children to learn and develop.


It’s an activity where young children can explore, imagine, and make decisions and this changes over the course of childhood from infancy to adolescence.


Play supports learning and development in the following ways:

  • Physical Development;
  • Social and emotional development;
  • Cognitive development;
  • Literacy and numeracy development.


According to Palaiologou (2016, p. 306 as cited in Arnott, 2017, p. 17) “play-based pedagogy is based on the ideology that play has motor, spatial, cognitive, emotional, and moral values in children’s development and is dependent on the idea of an active child who engages in actions that will lead to deep understanding and meaningful making experiences.”



Digital Play

As young children continue to be exposed to digital technologies, early childhood practitioners need guidance on how to integrate them into their early childhood pedagogies as digital play continues to be a part of children’s lives.


Digital play in the early years involves young children in many combinations of activities using a range of digital and non-digital resources. This may be by themselves or in collaboration with others.


It has been found that young children do not distinguish between screen-based media and concrete toys in the way that we as adults do. They rather treat them in a way that manipulates symbols in a new form of symbolic play.


This has changed the perspective of children being just passive participants to a position of children being active participants in their technological experience. Thus, aligning consistently with what play-based pedagogy is all about.


Early childhood pedagogies are now centring children in their learning experience allowing them to determine their own outcomes, even with digital play experiences.


Such values are recognised in pedagogies based on child-initiated learning. They have also increased the focus on play based pedagogies for developing children’s use of digital technologies.


Play based learning online course

The online pd for early childhood teachers “How to support play based learning in early childhood education with digital technology” supports the shift to establishing how early childhood teachers can best support young children in early childhood learning and development by integrating digital technologies in playful ways.


Its focus is on detailing the child’s experiences with digital technologies in the early childhood learning environment to drive practice forward. This online workshop for preschool teachers is concerned with play-based pedagogical approaches that is aligned with Palaiologou’s views on play-based pedagogy.


By the end, you should be able to:

  • Understand and master didactics of integrating digital toys and educational software applications for children;
  • Plan and monitor the development of children in using ICT/digital technologies to express themselves, for learning and play;
  • Exploit digital technologies in support of most or all of teaching and learning and development goals;
  • Understand the role of digital technology in early childhood education;
  • Know the potential of digital technology for the personal development of young children.


The list of digital play based pedagogies below offers insights into the factors that you as an early childhood practitioner may need to consider when planning for children’s digital play.

They are digital play based pedagogical approaches that you can apply and implement in your early childhood learning environment today.


The Importance of Learning Through Play

Play in Early Childhood education

How does play support learning and development in early learning environments?

Barriers to play based learning in early years

Conflicting beliefs.

Curriculum and Policy.

Professional Development 

The need for Digital Pedagogy in Education. 

How to develop your digital pedagogy?

What are the characteristics of digital pedagogy in early childhood?


Understanding Digital Play. 

The ‘Digital’ and the ‘Play’ as Pedagogies in Early Childhood Education. 

The Digital Divide.

What does digital play in the early years look like?.

Advice for parents.

What can children learn through digital play?.

How to best define and determine digital fluency in preschool?

What makes young children so digital fluent?

The Role of Digital Play in the Early Years.

Health and Safety Issues with Digital Play.

Facilitating Digital play in the early years.

Mapping Digital Play.

When should children start to engage in digital play?

How to support digital play in the early years?

Digital Literacy in Early Childhood Education

Digital literacy in Australia. 

Digital literacy in Education

Why digital literacy is important in education?.

Digital literacy in Early Childhood education.

How to support social and emotional development with technology

Connecting digital technology to theoretical underpinnings

The Impact on Preschool children.

How can digital technology act as a tool for social-emotional development?. 

How you can support and enhance emergent literacy and numeracy with ICT. 

Defining Emergent literacy and numeracy.

Emergent literacy skills in early childhood education. 

The role of digital play in developing literacy and numeracy.

Language Development and the Early Year Curriculum.

Language acquisition in the digital age.

What is your role as the teacher in technology-enhanced language learning?

What is the role of digital technology in language development?

Benefits of digital play for language development 

Language acquisition. 

Reading Development 

Mark-making development 

Strategies to promote Language Development in Preschoolers. 

How to create a language rich environment in the classroom with Technology. 

A Technology-rich and language-rich environment 

What are some technology solutions for creating a language rich environment?.

Key markers of a language rich environment with technology.

How can you understand the importance of early communicative competence with tech?.

Communicative Competence.

Communicative Competence and Digital Play.

Selecting ICT tools. 

What kinds of digital technologies are best?.

Using Grown-up programs. 

Apps and Software.

Digital Books. 

Other digital resources for play based learning. 

Digital Storytelling in Early Childhood Education.

Benefits of digital storytelling.

Educational uses of digital storytelling.

Enabling a Child’s sense of Self. 

How to use digital storytelling in the classroom.

Characteristics of the setting.

Planning the process of digital storytelling.

Digital Storytelling and Multimodal Literacy.

How to implement digital storytelling in the classroom..

How digital storytelling supports learner characteristics and teaching strategies. 

Digital storytelling examples. 

Assessment considerations. 

Creative Play in ECE..

Defining Creativity in ECE.

How to encourage creative play in early childhood education?.

Modelling using ICT Creatively.

Creativity and socio-dramatic play. 

Introducing new Graphics programs. 

How does technology affect creativity in the early years?.

Young Children in a Digital World. 

Digital Creativity and Innovation. 

Supporting children’s creativity. 

10 Creative learning activities. 

Creative Learning Environments. 

Outdoor Play Based Learning. 

Outdoor play benefits. 

Technology and the outdoor learning environment 

Your role as the teacher in Digital Outdoor play-based learning. 

How to establish a starting point for using digital technology outdoors. 

Going beyond digital play. 

Role Play – Learning without Failure. 

How does role play help a child's development?. 

Encouraging imagination and creativity. 

Enriching language and Enhancing Communication skills. 

Develop social and emotional skills. 

What does quality role play look like with digital technologies?. 

Connecting digital and non-digital play. 

Involving the children in the setting up. 

Attitude and Involvement of adults. 

Opportunities for Role Play with ICT. 

Role Play with Programmable toys. 

Teaching strategies to encourage technology role playing experiences. 

iPads in Early Childhood Education. 

Multimodal Learning. 

Selecting tablets that encourage playful explorations. 

Digital Literacies and Play. 

Digital play and Touch. 

iPad for Literacy education. 

Planning literacy experience. 

iPad-embedded Literacy Education Time Tool (iLETA Tool) 

Nurturing Creativity in Early Childhood Education with iPads. 

Creating from scratch. 

Complimenting traditional work. 

Drawing and writing on the screen. 

Possibility thinking. 

Multimedia Teaching Strategies. 

Media Literacy in Preschool 

Competencies that apply across technologies. 

What can children achieve through media literacy?. 

Examples of Teaching strategies to apply. 

Planning Play based learning. 

How to connect digital play to learning and development goals?. 

Using the Early Learning Goals. 

Play based learning in early childhood education. 

Linking the EYLF. 

Personal, Social and Emotional development 

Creative Development 

Understanding the world. 

Physical Development 

Literacy Development 

Numeracy Development 

Planning for digital role play. 

Quality and DAP resources. 

Linking High Impact Teaching Strategies to Play based Learning. 

Setting learning goals. 

Structuring lessons. 

Explicit teaching strategies. 

Worked Examples and Scaffolding. 

How can scaffolding help children?.

How Scaffolding works in ECE with Technology Integration. 

Metacognitive teaching strategies. 

Metacognition and digital play. 

Teaching Metacognitive Skills in Preschool 

Collaborative learning. 

Collaborative planning techniques.

What is the Solution?. 

Pairing Children for Collaborative Learning. 

Play and Pedagogy in Early Childhood. 

What is early childhood pedagogy?.

Understanding Children’s Technological Development 

Supporting technological learning and development 

Mediated Learning. 

Intentionally and Reciprocity. 

Expanding and going beyond the immediate. 

Mediating meaning. 

Mediating feelings. 

Regulating behaviour 

Guided interaction in a digital context

How can you easily transform digital play-based learning with the DPF?.

Teacher competency. 

What digital skills do you need?. 

Observing and Assessing Digital Play. 

The Digital Play Framework. 

Case Study: Digital Play Framework. 

Issues in Assessing children using digital technologies. 

How to avoid conflict between ICT objectives and subject learning. 

Assessing individual students’ Digital literacy when in group work. 

How do I overcome technical problems?.

Children with computers at home are at an advantage.

How do I know if a student or computer has done the work?. 

Guidance on observing and assessing digital play 


Understanding digital play-based pedagogies is vital in a world where young children are surrounded and exposed by new experiences with digital technology. This online pd for early childhood teachers will offer you a starting point for the process of digital technology integration in early childhood education today.