Guest blog: Wilfred's schemas

Guest blog: Wilfred's schemas

by Hayley Thompson @little_wild_wonders


Trajectory, enveloping, enclosing and positioning. These are the four (out of the total nine) schemas that my son Wilfred is currently exploring.  The other four are; rotating, transforming, orienteering, connecting and transporting. 

What is a schema?

A schema is described as a pattern of repeated behaviour which allows the child to explore and express developing ideas and thoughts through their play and exploration. The repetitive actions of schematic play then allow the child to construct meaning in what they are doing.


This is when children explore how things move and respond and they love to explore this schema through throwing things! Often their food and toys.

This has been quite challenging for me as a parent because Wilfred has been exploring this schema for a very long time. However, I’ve embraced it now and diverted Wilfred to activities where he can throw things. For example, I’ve set up a simple basket of foam balls and bean bags, in our hallway. Wilfred absolutely loves throwing them up in the air and from a distance.

Throwing balls and bean bags indoors.


Enveloping and Enclosing

Sometimes these are treat separately and sometimes they are treat the same. At the moment Wilfred is exploring both at the same time! This is when children are particularly interested in wrapping themselves up, covering and hiding items, or getting into boxes and closing the lid. Children get deeply involved in exploring how they and items can be inside objects. They also form enclosures either around themselves, such as building a fence or boundary around their play area. Through these schemas, children are showing their interest in ordering and organising things and spaces. Wilfred loves to hide things in boxes and will often purposefully colour in the wheels during an art activity. He also uses sensory items to cover up his resources! I make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for him to explore these schemas with the resources I provide, for example having boxes (cardboard and wooden) readily available really helps! ...Below are a few examples of him exploring these schemas.

Hiding the food into the 'caterpillars mouth', he loved this activity!


Opening and closing a locked box to reveal the surprise...a box of raisins - his favourite!

Covering up the letters with his kinetic sand.

Colouring in the wheels on Mummy's car.

Opening and hiding a wooden rainbow with a playsilk.



Children will line items up and put them in groups and arranging objects in a certain way.  They sometimes line them up in order of size, colour or shape or texture too.  When they do this they are exploring order, logic and symmetry.  

Wilfred loves to line up his vehicles on a flat surface and then he'll go onto talk about how many he has got, their colour and he will also comments on their size. 


Lining up his vehicles on the patio door.

I’m looking forward to facilitating Wilfred’s and Florrie’s exploration of schemas as they grow!