Schemas in Play | A Parents Guide To Behaviour.

Schemas in Play.

Schemas are a natural urge to repeat a pattern of behaviour, allowing the child to learn and explore their environment. They will repeat the schema behaviour until they really understand it.

Understanding Schema behaviour is really important when we are providing toy and activities for our children, once we can pin point what schema our child is going through the activities and the toys we provide are more likely to deepen their learning and increase their engagement. Children be in a certain schema for weeks or they may only explore it for a short period of time in one day, so when we are thinking about a toy rotation we should aim to provide activities out that fulfill all the schemas as well as focusing on the schema they are currently in.


Throwing, dropping, jumping and climbing are all part of the trajectory schema. If any of these sounds like your little one then activities that involve movement will spark their interest.

It could involve climbing onto a box and jumping off (trajectory of themselves), dropping objects or rolling objects down slopes (making it happen) or interacting with things that are already moving such as running water.

Resources to support this;

Feathers, scarfs or play silks, soft balls for indoors, ramps, stacking cups, bowling, bean bags and mark making materials.



Lining items up perfectly, organising into groups or stacking items can mean your child is in the positioning schema.

Children in this schema like to sort their toys, they may just be lining them up or them might have a system. They may become frustrated if someone moves something they are sorting like we would if we were trying to organise an area in our home!

Resources to support this;

Stacking cups, threading beads, building blocks, loose parts, Russian dolls or puzzle. Anything that will give your child the opportunity to follow their positioning urge.



Spinning wheels, twirling, running in circles or enjoys being spun in circles all fall into the rotation schema.

As you observe your child you may notice they sit a spin the wheels on a car or watching the washing machine.

Resources to support this;

trains on tracks, toy vehicles, spinning tops, cogs and water walls, hula hoops, play silks and ribbons. There is also a lot of rotation involved in cooking so you cold even bake some cakes!



You may find your child sitting under blankets or repeatedly wrapping items up. They may also enjoy dressing up, layering themselves with tops, dresses, scarfs and hats.

Resources to support this;

play silks, stuffed animals or dolls, loose parts to wrap up, playing peek a boo, tunnels, forts and tents.



Spending time filling and emptying containers, putting themselves in boxes and building fences around their toy animals are all part of the containment schema

It may seem boring to us but they are working out volume, weight as well as developing physical skills.

Resources to support this;

cardboard boxes of different sizes, containers and loose parts., shape sorter, tunnels, forte. As well as dry play such as; pasta, rice, sand with containers and jugs and of course jugs and containers during bath time.


The Transporting Schema is all about moving items, sometimes they fill bags, trucks or boxes. Other times you can see them with an armful of toys.

Resources to support this

bags, containers, paper bags, backpacks, prams, wheel barrow anything they can use to carry items. Of course they also need items to transport so any loose parts; blocks, pompoms, rocks, baby pouch lids. Again jugs in the bath can also support this schema.


The Orienteering schema is all about seeing the world from different angles. Your child might love to climb, hang upside down or lay underneath furniture. 

Resources to support this;

Climbing frames, pikler triangle, Lay underneath tables and sitting on an adults shoulders. 

Leave a Reply