Developmental Play- 'Investigations'

What is Investigations?

Investigations is a play-based learning approach which involves hands on play and exploration. It incorporates the children’s interests where their developmental age and learning experiences are intertwined. It is commonly known as The Walker Learning Approach which is the work of Kathy Walker, an Australian, Melbourne- based educator, academic, and consultant.

Why we have Investigations?

The Early Year’s Framework recognizes the importance of developmental play as a need to engage children in their early learning and to improve their social and emotional skills, behaviour, motivation and language. The children learn that they are multi literate, numerate, artistic, creative etc because their play is based on real life situations and authentic interests. In a natural interesting environment, they practise skills for life-long learning such as resilience, persistence, using initiative, problem solving, decision making, fine and gross motor.

Investigations promotes a seamless curriculum between Kindergarten and the first year of school thus providing a smoother transition.

How is it implemented?

Investigations takes place in first hour of the day which is a good way to settle the children in for learning in a natural way. The children make connections and discoveries which can be linked to other learning throughout the day. The role of the teacher is to scaffold, extend, intervene, support, guide and direct children in their learning.

Investigations begins with ‘Tuning In’ and ends with ‘Reflection time’ where learning intentions are explicitly reinforced. For each session, there is a ‘Focus Child’ who spends one on one time with the teacher who supports their play with explicit teaching. This often involves the curriculum learning goals we are focusing on at the time. There is also a reporter who roams around the learning areas interviewing individuals about what they are doing or learning about. The reporter writes and draws their responses. During reflection time, the reporter reports back to the class and photos taken at the time are viewed and discussed.

What are the learning areas?

The rooms are set up with provocations which are thoughtfully, carefully and attractively designed to capture the interests of the children. Students are invited to explore, play, create and investigate.  Typically, these areas will accommodate activities such as imaginary play, home corner, dramatic play, collage, art, block play, construction, writing, reading, science, sensory play, nature play, gardening, mud kitchen and a hands-on maths area. First Nations perspectives are included in many of the areas or as a stand-alone activity. The nature of the play within these areas is open-ended and is designed to allow children to work individually or collaboratively.  Children are encouraged to be innovative and, most importantly, to follow their own interests and passions.