Play is for everyone, everywhere

Every child can play – it doesn’t have to cost a thing, you can do it anywhere and research shows it even makes learning fairer

Children thrive on play

They use it to explore the world like little scientists. When a toddler watches a spoon clatter to the floor, then drops it again and again, they’re carrying out an experiment. A fun one, too (if you’re not the one picking it up)!

Learning through play is also how children develop essential skills they’ll carry with them their whole lives. As a critical part of child development, time and space for play is a must-have.

"Play is like medicine for my children. For most children, it’s fun to play – but for my children, it’s a need."
An anonymous mother

Every child can and should have an equal chance to learn through play

Play doesn’t have to cost a thing

Children don’t need a specific level of ability, a dedicated space, or an expensive set of toys to learn playfully. Make-believe, telling a story, playing hopscotch, or a game of tag are all ways children show us how they feel while practising self-control, cooperation, and creativity. Often, it’s when children aren’t using fancy toys that they express themselves most. Give a young child some colouring pens, old cereal boxes and sticky tape and watch their imaginations run wild as they create toys of their own. When you look at everyday objects through a child’s eyes, anything can be a plaything.

When we make play fairer, we make learning fairer

Studies show that playful learning helps disadvantaged children catch up to their more advantaged peers – in areas from maths to motor skills. So when education systems do invest in learning through play, that can have a broad impact. There’s still plenty more to learn about the power of play, and how best to shape education systems around it. Our teams work hard to get the evidence – and practical advice – into the hands of education leaders and policymakers.

Play is a lifeline in a crisis

Learning through play brings out a child’s inner superhero in desperate times. Through our work with partners, we’ve seen young children in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Iraq, Uganda, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt use play to rise above adversity. Clapping along to songs creates togetherness. Using art and make believe helps children show how they feel – often before they’ve found words to describe their emotions. And learning through play day-to-day gives children a sense of normality while lowering their stress and anxiety levels, too. Everything we’re describing we’ve seen for ourselves – on the ground through our humanitarian projects. Read more about them in our stories.

We're making play more inclusive

Take LEGO® Braille Bricks. They’re just like the bricks so many of us used growing up - with a small but important change. The studs are in the shape of Braille letters and numbers, with the written symbols printed on too. Children with visual impairment and their sighted friends can play together, honing their language skills as they build.

Find out more

Building belonging, making friends

Social enterprise Play Included partnered with us to create the Brick-by-Brick programme. Through Brick Clubs, young people who need support with social and communication skills – especially those on the autism spectrum – build LEGO models together. There’s a facilitator on hand, but the group leads their own project, choosing what to build and picking roles: engineer, builder, supplier.

Find out more

Learn more from our projects & partners

Dive into our latest news, research, blogs and project stories

More

Try some of our favourite games

Explore the research

More

Explore more