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Developmental Movement Play

Look beneath the milestones at the building blocks of physical development 

Babies and children are Infant Experts in their own physical development - hardwired to seek what they need for their unique body, in the midst of their unique life.

Infant Experts need Helpful Adults who understand the detail of how physical development works and how to help them get what they need.

There are two important foundations for physical development - sensory processing (the feel and awareness of the body) and motor skills (the way it moves). Helpful Adults know how to support both in equal measure.

The movement that happens in a focused space inside, is different from the movement that happens outside - and of equal value for development We need to plan for - and support - both.

Infant Experts 

Helpful Adults 

Sensory and Motor Development 

Indoor Movement Play

Values the approach is built on 

When children feel good in their body, they're ready for everything that life offers

Developmental Movement Play is a framework for looking in greater detail at how physical development unfolds - so that we can support our children better. In the early years children create the foundations that will shape their body for a life time. How that happens makes such a difference.

Help children to build

Confident, Skilled, Comfortable, 

Expressive, Happy Bodies 

How can we make space for children to follow their natural drive to seek the physical experiences they need for sound development?

Developmental Movement Play enables you to:

  • Understand more about why children move as they do

  • Focus on how children create a secure sense of self in their body, and a connected, adaptable physicality

  • Ensure that children’s natural drive to move in ways that support their development is valued, focused and purposeful

  • Develop your pedagogy in line with your aspirations for your children's physicality 

  • Build new movement observation skills to deepen your everyday observations

  • Scaffold children’s physical development more effectively

  • Set up indoor movement play spaces as a key aspect of your continuous provision 

Developmental movement

Go beneath the milestones to see how they build. Know how physical foundations are created and when they need more time to establish

Movement play

Recognise and support children’s free-flow spontaneous movement play as the key driver of physical development

Sensory & Motor 

Work with the two equal components of building a body - motor and sensory development - which intertwine to create body awareness and physical skill

Movement observation

Build your movement observation skills so you can see more of what your children’s bodies are telling you - and ask why? Why is this child moving like this?

Creating the space

Create the kind of environments that prompt and invite developmental movement - indoors as well as outside

Working together

Take a setting-wide approach - make simple, but fundamental tweaks to the way you support physical development across your team

Core pillars of the approach 

Evidence based

Created within a 10 year research project undertaken with early years partners across the UK

Theory informed

All aspects are rooted in contemporary child development theory and placed within a wider theoretical framework

Developing pedagogy

Offers a new perspective, then invites you to integrate this within your own pedagogical approach

Leaning and development 

A setting-wide approach 

Wider context


Children need to feel right in their own skin in order to have high levels of wellbeing.


They use movement play to get to know the body signals that accompany whatever is going on in their life - joyous, everyday or difficult. And to discover ways to take care of themselves when life is challenging.

Special Needs

Developmental Movement Play supports each unique child - regardless of where they are on a spectrum of development and learning - and asks what their body needs to equip them for their own developmental path.


It’s especially helpful in supporting children who find it hard to ‘self-regulate’, supporting them to build the sensory foundations and strategies they need, to manage how they feel.

2. Press play 

Dive into a world of new knowledge about how physical development works.

3. Embed new practice 

Take the approach back into your setting and implement immediately.

1. Choose a course 

Choose a single course or grow your understanding of the full approach. 

Developmental Movement Play Online

Daily movement diet

Children need lots of different kinds of movement to build their bodies and develop skilled motor control. They are very good at making opportunities through their movement play - and we can help them by providing environments and resources specifically designed to support a rich movement diet.


Developmental Movement Play offers a simple five-part framework to help observation and planning.

Developmental Movement Play Research 

Developmental Movement Play was first developed through a 10-year R&D project which brought together movement specialists and early years practitioners to explore and generate new ways to support children’s whole-hearted physicality.


The approach has developed a great deal since the final report and recommendations were published in 2009, but many of the original findings are as relevant as ever.

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