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Structured play / Unstructured play

One of our key phrases we use here at Wellspring is rhythm. Rhythm plays an important role in a child’s day. It provides routine and sameness that comforts children, while also allowing the freedom of flexibility. While your child is at Wellspring, they will get the opportunity to have structured and unstructured play activities in our rhythmic schedule. Let’s dive into what unstructured and structured play means.

Structured play

When we sit down and intentionally guide children through a game or activity, that’s structured play. Think of a board game, an organized group game, or a teacher lead art project. There’s a lot of benefits to encouraging structured play.

Problem Solving

When you are in a group/individual setting, there’s an end goal in mind. Get rid of all your cards first in Uno, complete a puzzle, create a mouse, put all the blocks into a container, take off all of the rings. Children are encouraged to think about how to solve their problems and overcome obstacles to reach the goal.

Goal setting

The end result provides a situation where the child has to learn how to set goals and make a plan to accomplish the desired outcome. Fortitude, persistence, and ingenuity are traits that are developed in structured play.

Active listening

While a child is playing a group game or working with a teacher towards a goal, active listening is key. You have to pay attention to and hear what others are saying around you. Following directions, inferring relevant information, and communicating to peers are used to accomplish the goal.

Unstructured play

Open ended, free play is unstructured. There’s no end goal in mind. There’s no adult guiding them or encouraging them to get a desired outcome accomplished. They can play at their own pace and use their own imagination.


When children play unstructured, they are allowed to make mistakes and make their own choices. If their block tower falls down, they do not have to continue building it, they can choose to turn it into another game or build something else.


When children have the opportunity to explore freely, they can mix different toys together, explore different textures and play in a variety of ways. They may find a fun way of combing blocks and play dinosaurs and make up one of their favorite games.

Social Skills

When children play together in an unstructured way, they can also build up different sets of social and emotional skills. Compromise is much easier if there isn’t a concrete mindset of the goal. Everyone playing together can create their own imaginative play world.


One of the best benefits of unstructured play is confidence. They were able to create and follow through with their own goals. They were also able to play uninhibited and express themselves in a safe environment.

At Wellspring, we know that creating rhythm that allows children to play both structurally and unstructured is vital to their social, emotional, and academic growth. We provide a rich and diverse environment both inside the classroom and outside on our natural playground to help all children develop to their fullest potential.

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