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Halfway play - not just a stepping stone to upright

Sitting, crawling ... these are two important milestones that happen between floor play and upright play. But there are lots more important building blocks that happen here; pieces of developmental movement that create vital foundations for a full, confident range of movement.

Explore 7 kinds of Halfway Play

Take another look at all the movement that happens between the floor and upright and  reflect on the detailed developmental work that happens here.

  • Length in the muscles, joint and ligaments

  • Whole body connection

  • A differentiated body

  • Strength

  • Flexible stability - finding on and off balance and ease with both

  • Strong grounding

Look again at Upright Play

Otis is struggling to jump. Niki can run, but he looks awkward and unsteady. Mable is a bit stiff in all her movement.

A 5-part framework to hold everything you have learnt

Bring everything you have learnt through these courses - all the detail - into a simple 5-part framework to help you observe, plan and support your children.

The detail enables you to help children to build stronger.

The framework keeps everything child-led, play based and simple. It helps you plan environments and experiences that support the totally unique way in which each child creates their own body - the body that will carry them through a lifetime.

And it helps you to spot where foundations need more work - and work on them.

  • Lots of children lack core strength. They have adequate fine and gross motor skills, but we want more for them than that. And core strength is vital for a wide range of movement.

  • Many children lack connection through their body - from their core to the ends of their limbs. This makes it harder for them to co-ordinate whole bodied movement with precision, and to develop excellent fine motor skills.

  • Some of our young children already lack the flexibility they need to create a wide range of movement - and a truly comfortable body. They simply haven't worked their bodies in the ways that will create the foundations for that flexibility

If we see it as a stepping stone to upright, rather than important movement in its own right, we risk devaluing lots of important developmental work that happens here.

Explore 7 specific kinds of halfway play, (picked out from all the movement that children do here), and see on how they build:

Back in your setting, let your observation of your children show you just how much physical development work is going on here.

What do you do?

Do you encourage more practice of the very thing these children are finding difficult, in the hope that everything will settle into place? Or do you go back to the foundations for these complex motor skills and build back up?

Using your growing knowledge of developmental movement, and some simple movement observation structures, learn to see into the detail of children's upright movement, rather than just noticing the action itself. (Download checklists to support your observations.)

Then ask yourself:

  • Why is jumping challenging for Otis. Is it about balance, the organisation of his limbs, the felt sense of this body, or something else?

  • Why does Niki look awkward and unsteady?  Look for clues in his body alignment, the relationship of all his body parts, his comfort with on/off balance.

  • And Mabel - are there any kinds of movement (floor based perhaps), where she does look easy and flowing in her body? Does this give you clues about where she might start building the foundations to create more confident upright movement?

Halfway & Upright Play

£42 per person

Developmental Movement Play Online

Shaping physical foundations

Push Pull 


Spin Tip








Push Pull


Spin Tip






"Our children don't want to be down on the floor, or halfway, because they are so busy being upright."

We recognise that!

There are so many reasons for children to be upright - it's where adults are, where there are loads of things to get involved in - and it's easier to get about. Sometimes children just don't want to be working on earlier foundations, even though we would love them to.

Interestingly, our research shows that children are often happy to return to the floor at around the age of three - which changes our perspective on the way physical development unfolds perhaps and the curriculum we offer.

Building on Floor Play, Halfway Play shapes the body and builds strength, connection, stability and flexibility in ways that bodies need before they come upright. It creates a body that knows how all the bits work, separately and together; it stretches and shapes the muscles, ligaments and tendons to provide support for a wide range movement. In short, it creates foundations for a confident adaptable and flexible physicality.

Returning to foundation building

Halfway and Upright Play

Building confident bodies

Join thousands using Developmental Movement Play 

Halfway and Upright Play

£42 per person

1. Choose a course 

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

2. Press Play

Dive into a world of new knowledge about physical development.

3. Embed new practice 

Take the approach into your setting and implement immediately.

Build a package

When you've taken an on-line course, drop in to a live 'ask me anything' session with the course tutor. Bring questions, challenges, specific case studies that makes the learning completely relevant to your setting and your children.

Course Tutor 

Penny Greenland

Jabadao Director | Developmental Movement Play Specialist 

Penny is a movement and body specialist, exploring physical and felt experience across many somatic practices. She’s a thinker, a mover and driven by the goal of developing a learning culture that supports body and cognitive development equally. 


Between 1998 and 2009 she led an in-depth action research project exploring how we support our youngest children’s physicality. Developmental Movement Play was created from this research, which continues to evolve and deepen. Penny loves to share ideas and offer training at all levels.  

She is author of Hopping Home Backwards: body intelligence and movement play and a contributor to several early years text books about physical development. 


Logan watches the pull and push games that other children invent with one another. He doesn't get involved. .


As a baby he loved his activity chair - he spent hours playing in it. When he approached walking, he took a long time to find how to balance himself upright - and his loving family spent loads of time bent double, holding his hands, as he practised!


Watch him carefully now and it's as if his limbs don't connect into his core. He uses strength in his arms, but he can't support it with power from the rest of his body. He seems to walk above the ground, not connecting into it.


What might support him well? Floor play first; halfway play next ... the trick is to find the things that will entice him into engaging here. This is not something we can teach him, but if we are canny, we can create environments and offer resources that will entice him into playing his foundations in to action. .


Lexi is in secondary school. Privately, she feels gawky and clumsy. Publicly, she says she'd rather do anything than PE, she hates sport and she dances very little when they go out.


As a child Lexi walked at an average age and ticked all the physical development boxes. She sat 'early', bum shuffled, and was an 'early' walker. She was a model pupil - always sitting still and attentively when required to, never boisterous or disruptive.


And she always looked like the wind could blow her away.


Going back and working on some of the early developmental foundations might make a big difference to how she feels about her body. But who would want do that when they're 15? Natural opportunities don't arise easily. It gets harder and harder to get what we need if we miss out early on.


This physical foundation building is early years work. We can make such a difference if we support children to build the detail, not just the action. And it isn't hard to do, because there are so many natural opportunities for children to play themselves into action.


The only thing in our way is understanding just what important foundations these are for a lifetime ...

Movement Play Resources

Add a resource kit for each participating setting to receive alongside the Movement Play Area course.

Live Sessions

Build in a Live Zoom Check In after each online course to deepen the learning and develop shared pedagogy.

Online Courses

Step by step or the 4-course package. Easy to take on any device.

All you need to know about the course 

Content: 18 short filmed lessons divided into four modules, lots of visuals. Downloads to support new ways of observing movement. A quiz to finish... The lessons take 1 and half hours to watch straight through. The observation you do as part of your everyday routines, (using the structures provided), is a big part of the learning.

How do I access the course? Via the Jabadao website. Create an account, log in and access the course whenever you want, through your dashboard.

Is there a CPD certificate? Yes, you'll receive a certificate on completion of all the elements of the course.

Course topics 

Module 1- Introduction: Introducing the course ahead and a developmental movement approach.

Module 2 - Movement Observation:  Two simple structures to support movement observation as a specialist aspect of your observation work.

Module 3 - Halfway Play: Unpacks halfway play in general terms; and 7 specific kinds of halfway play in detail. And asks is bum shuffling a kind of halfway play?

Module 4 - Upright Play: Introduces detailed checklists (for you to download) to help you clarify what you already know and to see more detail in children's upright movement.


For individuals 

Select Single Pass and follow the online checkout. Create your Developmental Movement Play Account and start the course. 

For teams 

To enrol several staff members please take the Group Bookings option and one of the team will be in touch to set up your courses.

For groups, networks and local authority areas

If you want to set up training for multiple settings and advisors across a district, or within a network, please follow the Group Bookings option, one of the team will be in touch to develop a programme to match your aims.

Who is the course for? All those supporting children from 0 to 7. Nursery, playgroup and preschool staff; early years teachers and support staff; SENCOs; childminders, family workers, wider support teams - advisors, educational psychologists, speech and language therapists; occupational therapists; physiotherapists. Senior Leadership teams. Governors and Volunteers, Training can be taken individually, as team or with a group of settings.

How long can I access the course for? The course will be live on your dashboard for 3 months.

Single Pass 

- Develop your practice

- Access for 3 months

- Downloads

- Certificate on completion


- Develop setting wide pedagogy 

- Access for multiple people for 3 months

- Downloads

- Certificates on completion

Halfway & Upright Play

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