Less Insta, more reality: Why ‘less is more’ in an early learning environment - Step4
less insta more reality

Less Insta, more reality: Why ‘less is more’ in an early learning environment

If you follow a bunch of play accounts and shops on Instagram, have you ever felt a bit overwhelmed by the elaborate play set-ups and shiny new product?Have you ever felt ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) because you haven’t snagged the latest trendy product for your early learning centre? Thanks to the Internet, we’ve been conditioned to believe that newest is best, and more is best.

It’s time to stop scrolling, put down your phone and get back to basics. To have valuable play set-ups and a beautiful learning environment, you really don’t have to ‘have it all’.


Your activities don’t need to be Instagrammable to be engaging. They just need to spark imagination, encourage creativity and create a sense of independence for children. It can be as simple as adding water to some trays, getting flowers and leaves from the garden, and leaving children to explore the different sensory elements. Water play is a cost effective, open-ended way to teach cause and effect.

You could use these same trays to fill with sand and add some blocks – the ultimate open-ended toy that encourages creativity.

We often joke about children enjoying boxes and wrapping paper more than the toy itself especially in their baby years. Maybe an activity in your early learning centre could be as simple as setting up a few cardboard boxes and some paint and paintbrushes? You could even use this same paint for water play.

Here we’ve got our top five staple items that the children in your early learning centre will be loving for years to come.

1. Active World Tray

Perfect for water play, playing with sand or even adding little figurines to encourage small world play. Add a couple of these to your collection and you’ll be surprised at just how much you can do with them.

Active World Tray Image
Active World Tray 2

2. Paint

It’s messy but it’s also a great way for children to learn about colours and unlock their creativity. Whether it’s finger paint, face paint or standard paint, we’ve got a bunch of options for you to choose from. So whip out some paper, those cardboard boxes you’ve had lying around, or get outside – the possibilities are infinite and the paint can be used over and over again.

Paint Activity
Paint Activity

3. Forestplay Mud Kitchen

Mud kitchens are a great investment. Children can add anything you like to them including water, paint, sand, leaves or even dirt. The possibilities for activity set-ups with a mud kitchen are endless.

Mud Kitchen Image

4. Blocks

Block sets are a must! They’re versatile and encourage creativity and exploration from a young age. Use them in an invitation to play or have a dedicated block section in your centre and watch them being enjoyed over and over again.

Block Activity Copy
Block Activity 2

5. Magnets

Magnets are great for learning about cause and effect. They can also be used in a range of settings – whether it’s building a bridge in your tray, combining them with blocks or even just using them on their own, they’re another cost effective option that can be used over and over again.

So, what’s the key takeaway from this? Less is more! Get creative with what you have, invest in a few staples and you’ll see the possibilities are endless. You may not be winning prizes for the most likes on Instagram, but you’ll be making a huge contribution to the learning of the children in your centre, and you can’t put a price on that.

Magnet Activity
Magnet Activity 2
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