"By the year-end I was thrilled by the academic progress my class had made. More than half of my class began Year 1 working below the expected levels for their age in both literacy and maths. By the end of the year over half of them were working at either age-appropriate or more than age-appropriate levels. It is impossible to say that this progress was purely due to DMP...
Make it your own ...
Creating the space is only the start. Reflect on how you and your team want to support the learning that happens here. This is as much a new practice for adults, as it is a new learning areas for children.
" Our indoor setting is already totally full - there's no space to support another learning area "
We completely understand. Of course it is. And yes, for many settings this does mean re-thinking a bit.
But we know that when settings have decided to do this they have been really pleased with what happens as a result. There is a reason that the Movement Play Area often becomes the busiest area in the setting.
The more we understand the importance of movement play, the more of a priority a Movement Play Area becomes because it underpins so much wellbeing and learning.
Basic guidance to keep the play safe and powerful
Three ways to establish the area to get the most out of the development and learning that happen here
How your whole team can get involved - the different roles you might all take, so that it fits you as well as your children
Create an Area that your children will love and you are proud of. Introduce parents and visitors to the amazing way children use to to extend their learning.
" We're in a school setting and having a Movement Play Area in the classroom will be very disruptive "
Yes we thought that too when we first set out. But we tested it and found that we had been wrong. But don't take our word for it. This is what one of the early research partner said - and her experience has been replicated over the years.
However, if nothing else it certainly showed that allowing noisy boisterous DMP in the classroom hadn’t prevented learning from taking place – which is so often a concern with movement play.”
Developmental Movement Play Online
Shaping physical foundations
A dedicated space for Movement Play indoors
A child's body is their first home; movement is their first language. They are experts in creating the body experiences they need to become adaptable, skilled and expressive physical beings.
Babies and children constantly create movement play experiences that:
Develop body awareness
Grow skilled motor control
Make and build relationships
Notice, understand and speak about how they feel and who they are
Allow them to think things through
We know that being physically active is vital for heath - and we want to enable our children to reach the recommended daily targets. (And for some children that's really hard).
They need to do this Indoors as well as outside, because the movement opportunities in each are very different and both necessary.
100% of the early years research partners involved in creating the Development Movement Play research project reported that children were involved in more physical activity when they set up an Indoor Movement Play Area.
Increasing physical engagement
How can we increase engagement in movement (big and small) alongside all the other learning we support? Isn't the outdoor provision (plus activities and games indoors) enough?
Supporting communication and social development
For children who struggle with verbal language, or who speak a different language, or who choose not to speak, body language is especially important as a way to make relationships and to communicate.
In the Movement Play Area children can build the skills to play with, and communicate with others, using their first and most direct language - movement. It gives them the freedom to set aside the difficult words (just for a bit) , to become freely articulate, and to build the core communication skills that they may be missing; the skills that precede (and support) words.
"They wallow in their experience in the Movement Play Area - they really enjoy it. Sometimes they perfect a movement. They practice and practice and practice and practice. No one is telling them do it. They are just driven to do it. So you give them space and time to do it - like you would in any other learning area.“
Nancy Farrow | Head Teacher
Grace Owen Nursery
Hear from others who have a Movement Play Area in their setting
We have been developing indoor Movement Play Areas hand in hand with nurseries, playgroups, childminders, community organisations and schools for twenty years. Lots of trial and error and lot of learning to pass on. It is so simple to set up and powerful learning happens here.
Hear the basic guidelines we have created together over the years:
How big should it be? (it's probably much smaller than you imagine)
How many children move at once?
Where to put it in your setting (it makes a big difference)?
What resources do you need to create the space?
And the importance of keeping it clear
Back in your setting, enjoy creating a beautiful area where children's love of movement is utterly valued. And then let your observations show you just how much happens here.
An indoor Movement Play Area is a highly focused learning area that supports children's inherent love of movement play and their ability to create what their bodies need to develop well. It can support vigorous movement as well as smaller movement. It isn't a big space; it fits easily alongside all the other indoor learning areas and it allows each child to move in the unique way their particular body needs. Today. Now. It is a simple part of free flow continuous provision.
A highly focused learning area
When we trust - and make room for - children's delight in making great developmental movement choices, in creating their own physical development
curriculum, they move more. And in the indoor environment they can make different - and important - developmental choices. The Movement Play Area is often one of the busiest learning areas in a setting.
“Since having the DMP areas in our rooms it’s just amazing to see the children that access it and what they’re getting from it. Things that you might otherwise see as chaotic movement - things that their bodies need - you’ll be amazed at what they’re capable of doing if you give them a safe space and support.”
Loron Hurd | Room Lead
Setting up an Indoor Movement Play Area
Valuing children's movement play afresh
Join thousands using Developmental Movement Play
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 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 make the learning completely relevant to your setting and your children.
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.
Joss visits the Movement Play Area repeatedly during the day. When he first arrives he heads straight there and runs and rolls. He's there for perhaps ten minutes, repeating lots of the things he does every day and sometimes finding new things. Over the weeks his routine slowly shifts and evolves around the core running play - round and round and across the mats play.
During the Good Morning circle time he stays there and listens out for his name in the group calling out his response. He prefers not to get close to all the other children, but is is very engaged in what is happening. When he is ready, he goes off to other areas in the nursery, returning to the Movement Play Area at times if something upsets him, or if he needs to settle or re-group. He comes back to run and roll himself ready for the next thing. Sometimes he comes back just for the pleasure of it. He likes to move with one of the practitioners best of all; and one or two of the other children. If it is too crowded he waits until it clears.
When his mum comes to collect him at the end of the day she often finds him in the Area and goes to join him for a little play before the walk home.
Two children are moving in the Area. They have soft play fabrics that they are draping on the floor, smoothing out and then rolling over. Roll across, run round, roll again. After a while they drape the fabric over each other and then experiment rolling with it wrapped around their waists. Then they evolve a game in which one of them throws the fabric up and the other dives on to the floor to see if they can lie just where it will land. (It happened by chance at first, but they were quick to see the potential).
At the side of the mat there are five children watching. Just watching? Watching with engagement and delight; absorbed and curious. Occasionally calling out something about the game. Two really keen to go into the area to develop the game for themselves.
We were very surprised to discover the power of the audience role ... it's as if you set up your very own dance theatre in your setting, with a new programme every day. We were not expecting that, but have come to really appreciate the learning that happens as a result.
Movers and Watchers
Movement Play Resources
Add a resource kit for each participating setting to receive alongside the Movement Play Area course.
Build in a Live Zoom Check In after each online course to deepen the learning and develop shared pedagogy
Step by step or the 4-course package. Easy to take on any device.
"I felt that watching the children move … I wanted the Movement Play Area to be a special place. They really deserved that. Although, one thing I learnt over they years, it’s not just creating an Area, making it beautiful and saying we’ve got a movement area - it’s about the rest of the nursery valuing and supporting children’s movement too. “
Amanda Willis | Nursery Owner
" It gives them the chance to be themselves. Many of our children have been cooped up in flats, not seen other children, not had space to explore. It gives them all of that straight away. I would say it is invaluable - essential … it benefits everyone in the group, including the adults. "
Nancy Farrow | Head Teacher
Grace Owen Nursery
Sometimes the children don’t want to move. They want to come and sit and watch and discuss, the Movement Play. And I think that’s really important. There’s something quite lovely happening as they watch their friends - and see how they are, what they’re doing. It’s big on wellbeing.
Holly Larson | Teacher
All you need to know about the course
Content: 19 short filmed lessons divided into four modules. Downloads to help you plan and create your on area. Interviews with practitioners about their Movement Play areas; and with two guest experts who have fascinating things to say about movement and learning. The lessons take two and a half hours to watch straight through. But 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.
Module 1 - Introduction: What is a movement play area and what's it for?
Module 2 - The Space: Size, and when you make it available; the practicalities setting up the area; resources, guidance for children and guidance for practitioners
Module 3 - Your Practice: Three ways to support the area; thinking about team roles; introducing Lana Karasik from the City University of New York talking about adult and child interaction in physical development.
Module 4 - Children's Learning: Looking in detail at the learning that happens here - sensory, motor, social and emotional; and the ways it supports wellbeing, parents and partners. And a conversation with Kelly Mahler about the importance of interception (the sense that tells us about things on the inside of our body) and links with movement play. Finishes with a quiz.
Select single pass and follow the online checkout. Create your Developmental Movement Play Account and start the course.
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.