What to Expect in a Movement Play Session?

Pause and relax 

Children lay down on the floor by adults.

Adults demonstrate how to be still and relax.

This helps children to feel calm.

Shared movement time

Movement Play

Shared movement time is about adults being active and creative alongside children …

… adults and children playing, exploring and discovering together.

This allows children to develop self-awareness and self-confidence.

Adults give eye to eye contact and smile at children.

That supports children to be aware of others and feel safe.

Adults also listen and connect to children.

It encourages children to form trusting relationships, take the lead and express themselves, in particular, their feelings.


Children crawl underneath adults and through tunnels.

This encourages turn taking, stimulates left and right hemispheres of the brain and improves hand-eye coordination.

Blanket time

Movement Play
Group play therapy

Adults give children rides along the floor, swing them or wrap them up. They play pulling games which use big muscles.

This helps children feel soothed and more at home in their bodies.

Drawing time

“Fire Dragon”

Children draw on paper with crayons, felt pens or colouring pencils to express thoughts and feelings in images.

(Session length: 45 minutes)

How does Movement Play address “bottom up” brain development?

Movement Play focuses on sensory stimulation.

Relaxation and slow breathing helps connect nerve cells from the brain stem, or “being” brain, to the rest of the brain.

Experiences like rolling, balancing, swinging and pulling stimulate nerves in the skin, inner ear and muscles.

The stimulated nerves send electrical impulses to an area of the brain called the cerebellum.

When the cerebellum lights up new neural pathways are made.

These pathways connect up to the rational, or “thinking” brain through the emotional, or “doing” brain.

This “bottom-up” process has a meaningful impact on learning and development.

Children find it easier to concentrate, solve problems and organise themselves …

… to think about thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

And best of all children become calmer and happier.

How does gentle touch support well-being?

Gentle Touch
‘Build a Road’ gentle touch

Touch is critical to our social and emotional lives. It eases stress in the body.

Gentle touch stimulates slow-acting nerve fibres in the skin called CT-fibres.

Electrical impulses from these fibres trigger the brain to release oxytocin, a feel-good hormone.

This allows children to move towards greater health and well-being …

… to become steadier, more focused and emotionally stronger.

What is the role of adults in Movement Play?

Adults are available to children and find opportunities to smile and care.

It makes children feel loved.

Adults show respect and an interest in everything children say and do.

This encourages children to explore, experiment and take risks.

Once children become confident doing movement experiences they get into role play.

Adults give time, value and listen to the emerging storyline …

… they respond sensitively to children’s imagination.

That helps children feel special, powerful and responsible for their own behaviour.

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