Exploration time or Free play is a child directed activity which is mainly associated with free inquiry and movement among children. The child has the freedom to either be involved in group activities or solitary play. All the free play corners enhance skill building.
It’s a bridge between the non formal environment at home and the formal environment at school. It allows the child to utilize the freedom he/ she has at home and use it in a constructive manner. Thus it’s an appropriate transition activity.
The children are left free to explore different equipments according to their wish (sometimes planned too) and the teacher observes the children and assesses their learning styles and also tracks their growth on different aspects.

This is the most important time of day

  • Child directed time
  • Decision making process –Child is responsible for own actions
  • Trial and error
  • Helps to develop imagination
  • Children learn to Socialize
  • Children verbalize their thoughts which leads to conversation
  • Children are exposed to a wide variety of activities with freedom to choose and participate
  • Children get a chance to plan
  • Release tension and pent up emotions

Stages of play in exploration time-

• Solitary play
• Onlooker behavior
• Parallel play
• Associative play
• Cooperative play

Types of corners to be set in exploration time

• Block corner
• Manipulative
• Science and sensory
• Reading/computer
• Art
• Dramatic play
• Music and movement


Physical skills
• Gross Motor skills-Lift and move blocks.
• Fine Motor skills-Eye hand coordination, Pincer and Palmer grip
Mathematical skills
• Counting, matching, sorting, grouping, adding, subtracting, weight, length, sequencing.
Language skills

• Learning vocabulary for concepts of form, size, location and relationship.
Social skills

• Sharing, waiting for turns, developing a positive attitude.

Few tips-
• Environment should be comfortable and spacious.
• Children should be able to spread out and construct.
• Sufficient material.
• The teacher should step in only if the child gives up and is feeling frustrated.
• Ask children to explain their creations to help you appreciate their ideas.
• Focus on child’s attention to shapes they use.
• Encourage children to build structures that are same in some way.
• At clean up ask individual children to pick up according to one shape or color.
• Notify children about clean up well in advance so that they can give final touches to their creations.
• Use puppets for encouragement.
• Use toy vehicles to transport blocks.
• Try an assembly line- children can hand blocks from one to another. It can be fun for children.

• The child learns simple math’s and number concepts like half, full, empty, before, after, counting and measures.
• Child who is reluctant to use manipulative independently should be encouraged.

i. Check & Prepare
ii. Supervise
iii. Indoor/outdoor
iv. Safety
v. Structured activity

• Playing with sensory materials is the one of the best ways for young children to learn about the world and develop their skills. Sensory materials are often a favorite of very young children.
• These activities also provide opportunities for language development, understanding spatial relationships, small-group activities, and fine motor development.
• These activities can soothe an angry child and comfort one who is upset.
• There is no right or wrong way to use these open-ended materials; thus, they offer children a sense of success.
(Example- Sand play, water play and textures)

 Importance of sand play
• Reconstructive activity
• Unlimited freedom
• Provides scope of growth for a child
• Calming effects, relaxes a child, and helps reduce tension.
• Helps build basic concepts through experimentation.
• Pre-number concepts are built.
• Relationship between quantity and size, volume and shape, and different shapes is developed.
• Relationship of space
Teacher’s/Parent’s Role
• Supervise
• Young children cannot play with sand and water without making a mess. So it’s important not to make them feel bad about it. If we get them to help tidy up at the end, especially if we make that into part of the game, we’re encouraging good habits from an early age, and teaching that mess is no problem because it can get cleaned up.

4. Reading /computer/slide/multimedia corner

• The child learns to identify letters of the alphabet on keyboard and he learns to move the mouse and enjoy age appropriate programs and other multimedia related activities.
Slides to be shown (for example)

Birds, Community Helpers, Domestic Animals, Flowers, Fruits, Hygiene, Insects, Sea Creatures, Transport, Vegetables, Wild Animals etc.
Teacher’s/Parent’s role

• Prepare the child for an activity that is new to him/her.
• Demonstrate the use of each component.
• Allow them to take turns to use the mouse and click on the correct options.


• The child explores the concepts of colors, shades, textures and enjoys with paints, chalks and plays with gum and paper.
Manipulative Play:
• Child experiments with media.
Symbolic Play:
• Draws, moulds, cuts things that have meaning for them, key details lack.
• Highlights on details important to him.
• Deletes/ eliminates some altogether.
Representational Art:
• Figures complete
• Inside and outside figure details.
Learning outcomes-

• Explore medium and materials
• Pincer and palmer grip
• Express thoughts and ideas
• Eye hand coordination
Teacher’s /Parent’s role-
• Provide enough time and material
• Motivate
• Let them mess and explore the different textures and mediums.
• Allow the children to talk about their own creativity.


Child learns to put his needs into words and have fun time experimenting with colorful costumes and puppets.
• Children love to be someone else.
• Put in their own experience- inside their homes.
• Plunge into pure fantasy-super heroes, queens.
• Revert to baby times- to handle their fears, e.g doctor, death, divorce, sibling rivalry or express hidden wishes.
• Simplest of toy or prop—inspires a trip into world of “Lets pretend”
• Child is more relaxed in a group during role play.
• Reveals about knowledge, needs, strength and emotions.


• Researchers have found that music and movement programs have a positive impact on child development for children between birth and their primary school years in many of the developmental domains.
• Singing songs to children and with them will teach them about beat, tones, and lyrics which are all important in developing auditory discrimination.
• The use of instruments will promote fine motor development and encourage creative development. Creative movement helps children learn many concepts such as balance, coordination, rhythm, and is also an important tool for developing self esteem and body awareness and the own itself.

Teacher’s/Parent’s role-
• Introduce lively music in the class that can lift children’s spirits and encourage them to move their bodies.
• Quiet soothing music calms and relaxes children.
• Selection of appropriate song.
• Singing session to be conducted daily-related to theme/ topic.
• Association of actions with words.
• Ask the children their choice of songs.
• Never force a child.
• Don’t be self conscious.
• Be slow, clear and repeat the words.
• Sing bi-lingual songs.
• Repetition of songs.
• Total involvement while singing time.
• Sing songs with lot of expression and voice modulation.

Songs and exercises-
• Enhances listening skills
• Source of fun and enjoyment
• Develops sense of rhythm eg tambourine and manjiras
• Means of improving memory
• Attention span increases
• Encourages participation of each child in a group activity

 Learning outcomes-
• Great deal of learning
• Memory enhanced
• Language development/ Vocabulary development
• Emotionally satisfying
• Calming and soothing effect
• Develops sense of rhythm
• Shy children open-up

• Involve children
• Motivate
• Make a game
• Respect for property
• Care of belonging
• Orderly after a mess
• Inculcate habits for life