Getting Started with Schemas

Before I begin, I have woefully ignored this blog this year. I have just completed part time uni studies for the year, as well as recently introducing play based learning (with the rest of the teaching team I am in) into our classroom curriculum. More posts on this to come.

Today’s post is a notes summary. It comes from the text:

van Wijk, N. (2008). Getting started with schemas: Revealling the wonder-full world of children’s play. New Zealand Play Federation: Waitakere, New Zealand.


What are schemas?

At the simplest level, schemas are repeating patterns in children’s play. More specifically, a schema is a thread of thought which is demonstrated by repeated actions and patterns in children’s play or art,” (van, Wijk, 2008, p.1). Schema are demonstrated through fantasy play and art/construction & mark making.

Some kinds of patterns (ibid, p.13)

  • transporting
  • enclosing – putting within a boundary
  • enveloping- enclosing + covering ad wrapping things up/
  • vertical/horizontal trajectories (actions & drawings) – things moving through space, lining up blocks
  • transforming – change
  • circularity & rotation
  • ordering – lining up, positioning
  • connecting (and disconnecting)
  • spatial relationship – perspective, e.g watching planes
  • figurative schemas in mark making

Involvement, flow and persistence, photos, observational grid, sharing info, portfolio, focus child,  provide a forum for identifying schema.

  1. The context the schema presents itself in may change although the schema being explored may not.
  2. “Children’s schematic interests are one of the many ways in which mark making and literacy become relevant to them,” (p.63).
  3. “Sometimes the increasing complexity of the play is incremental, and we can only see it when we look back,” (p.69).


Why are these important? p.78

  • Foundation for our cognitive structures (which we need to think and learn)
  • See thinking across time
  • “Exploring these expands, extends and deepens children’s abstract thinking skills and ideas”
  • Can manage the behaviour – offer alternatives when an exploration technique is not feasible
  • Limits & boundaries still have a place

Obviously this fits well with early years learners (birth to 8 years) & Te Whaariki (the NZ early childhood curriculum document). It still fits with the New Zealand Curriculum  document (particularly science and the whole front section of the document). The challenge is how does this fit in with teaching reading, writing and maths and what does this look like as students develop & mature.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s