Next Article in Journal
Women Rectors and Leadership Narratives: The Same Male Norm?
Next Article in Special Issue
Lyrics2Learn: Teaching Fluency through Music and Technology
Previous Article in Journal
Types, Topics and Trends: A Ten-Year Review of Research Journals in Science Education
Previous Article in Special Issue
Code-Switching Explorations in Teaching Early Number Sense
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(2), 74;

Learning Landscapes: Playing the Way to Learning and Engagement in Public Spaces

Psychology Department, Pace University, New York, NY 10038, USA
Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, USA
Center for Universal Education, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC 20036, USA
School of Education, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 May 2018 / Revised: 18 May 2018 / Accepted: 21 May 2018 / Published: 23 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Early Childhood Education)
Full-Text   |   PDF [7505 KB, uploaded 23 May 2018]   |  


Children from under-resourced communities regularly enter formal schooling lagging behind their peers. These deficits in areas such as language development, reading readiness, and even in the kind of spatial skills that predict later mathematical knowledge, may persist throughout their lifespan. To address such gaps, policymakers have focused largely on schooling as the great equalizer. Yet, children only spend 20% of their waking hours in school. How can developmental scientists and educators address this “other 80%” for the benefit of children’s development? One answer is the Learning Landscapes initiative, which involves crafting carefully planned play experiences that focus on learning outcomes, particularly for children and families from under-resourced communities. Playful learning, a broad pedagogical approach featuring child-directed play methods, provides a unique way to foster learning and engagement organically within the built environment. Learning Landscapes already incorporates several well-documented projects. The Ultimate Block Party brought over 50,000 people to Central Park to engage in playful learning activities. Supermarkets became hotspots for caregiver-child interaction by simply adding prompts for caregiver-child interaction through signage in everyday “trapped” experiences. Urban Thinkscape transformed a bus stop and adjacent lot into a hub for playful learning while families were waiting for public transportation. Finally, Parkopolis is a life-size human board game that fosters STEM and reasoning skills in public spaces. This paper reflects on data from these projects while reflecting on lessons learned and future directions. View Full-Text
Keywords: playful learning; early childhood; urban planning; design playful learning; early childhood; urban planning; design

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Hassinger-Das, B.; Bustamante, A.S.; Hirsh-Pasek, K.; Golinkoff, R.M. Learning Landscapes: Playing the Way to Learning and Engagement in Public Spaces. Educ. Sci. 2018, 8, 74.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Educ. Sci. EISSN 2227-7102 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top