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Deconstructed Role Play

"You create a space that is full of things that can be anything" - Alistair Bryce-Clegg 


What is deconstructed role play?

It’s basically role play that allows children to be totally in control of their own learning, for them to take ownership of their ideas through the use of open-ended resources. 


In our setting, gone are the days of adult made, aesthetically pleasing gruffalo caves and travel agents....  After reading numerous blogs about deconstructed role-play over the past year, I was really excited about developing a dedicated stimulating learning space within our early years environment . I wanted a space that truly promoted children's independence - I wanted  children to be totally in control of their own learning, for them to take ownership of their ideas, and for them to drive their learning forward. Our role as practitioners would be to help them extend their thinking with careful questioning and suggestions for higher order thinking and next steps.


Through this type of play, children demonstrate numerous ways of achieving learning outcomes. This approach embraces child-led learning and promotes all areas, which intertwine with the characteristics of effective learning. Since introducing this type of play at our setting, the results have been absolutely amazing! I didn’t think I would ever observe so much creativity, imagination, collaboration and critical thinking - the children are engaged, in control and most importantly, happy! The depth of language and thinking is astounding! The children have complete ownership of their ideas and what they produce is outstanding and different everyday - what is not to love?! 


So instead of sitting at a desk printing, cutting and laminating, I put my passion to good use and spent my spare time scouring charity shops and car boot sales gathering amazing treasures to add to my favourite area of the nursery for the children to enjoy! 

"The wider the range of opportunities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences." - Loris Malaguzzi 

This type of environment promotes a sense of authentic choice and holds no limits to imaginative possibilities. We are continually rotating and adding resources to enhance it as time goes by and children’s interests evolve.


Here’s some photos of our deconstructed role play area in action.

Here are six more reasons to consider introducing it to your environment:

  • It’s truly child-initiated. The play that takes place in deconstructed role play is initiated and developed entirely by the children and as a result is more purposeful and more likely to be sustained over time.


  • There are no limits. From Lamborghinis, to ice palaces to helicopters – anything you can imagine can be constructed.


  • It promotes talk. Children will use language while constructing, while playing with the creation afterwards will encourage the use of narrative and storytelling skills.


  • Boys love it. In our environment, deconstructed role play has been particularly beneficial for the boys. They thrive with this style of play, and happily spend hours planning, constructing, reviewing and improving. They will then return to their construction the next day to continue the play, often extending it without any adult intervention required.

  • Children naturally take on roles. Deconstructed role play generally involves ‘real-life’ roles – the boss, the builder, the planner, the resource supplier.


  • Thinking critically. Children will work together to solve problems, reviewing their work and finding ways to improve their constructions.

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