England.  Change location

Young children's play and creativity

This module focuses on understanding play and creativity in early childhood from different and diverse personal and professional perspectives. It considers how other children and adults impact on the play decisions and creative choices children make. You will learn about how children express their ideas and interests through play and consider how children participate and are included in play and creative experiences. You will explore how children express their preferences through their play choices and the significance of creative spaces in following their interests.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects


Module code




  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.

Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study
1 7 4

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

What you will study

The module is organised into three blocks of study. The first block concentrates on young children’s play and creative experiences, the second explores the role of the adult and their influence on children’s play and creativity and the third block considers what play and creativity might look like in the future through debate and research.

Block 1 - Exploring play and creativity: the child’s perspective
There are some key themes that underpin the whole of the module. The first is that play is universal. This means that any child has the capacity and ability to play and be creative. Play and creativity can happen in a variety of situations with different children of different ages or a child can be involved in solitary play on their own. They can play alongside other children doing different activities known as parallel play or they can involve adults in their play. This first block of study introduces the idea that it is significant for play and creativity to be a social experience and that those experiences are shared with others in situations that are familiar to everyone involved. The block asks:


  • What is it like to play and be creative? 
  • What do children take away from those experiences?  

These questions help in the second key theme of understanding the value of play and creativity for children. As you might expect in this module, play and creative experiences are considered essential for all children and so it is also important to question how you value play and creativity and how you demonstrate this to the children you support. 

The third key theme is understanding the significance of children’s play and creativity for their learning and development and how children make sense of their world through play and by being creative. You will have the opportunity to reflect on your own understanding of play and creativity and in this first block you will also encounter lots of different views about what play and creativity is, why it is important and what it means for children.  

Block 2 - Play for all: Responding creatively
In the second block you will explore how you facilitate and respond to children’s play and creative experiences. The role of the adult both in a professional capacity such as an Early Years teacher or practitioner and a personal capacity as a parent or carer has a significant influence on children’s experiences. Some children also have many and varied influential adults in their lives such as grandparents, extended family and close friends. Often adults organise play situations and creative opportunities, making choices and decisions about the resources available and time allocated to experiencing different environments such as the outdoors. This block asks:


  • Why is it important to consider the influence of the adult role?
  • What is the significance of an adult in supporting children’s play and creative preferences?

Inclusion is a key theme to the whole module and throughout this block you will consider how play and creative experiences encourage children’s participation. Children play in different ways and are captivated by different objects, environments and play situations. Some children enjoy physical outdoor play whilst others will show their preference for quiet spaces or use their environment in creative ways. Developing the skills to interpret children’s creative expressions through a range of contexts is introduced and explored through a number of different perspectives.

Examining your own values and beliefs about play are also developed through this block, encouraging you to think about how playful and creative you are in providing rich opportunities for children’s engagement. Your thinking and interaction with children through play and creative opportunities influence their experiences and responses to new and different ideas, supporting their knowledge and understanding of their immediate and wider environment.

Block 3 - Critical reflections: Young children’s play, creativity and futures
In this final block you are encouraged to think beyond your immediate circumstances and experience with children and consider: 

  • What will play and creativity look like in the future? 

You will revisit some of the key themes of the module including play as a universal concept and how children’s right to play and be creative shape how you support their experiences. This block will explore the fast-paced nature of childhood including the influence of technology and growing up in a digital world. You will consider what children’s futures may look like and whether play and creativity will be valued in the same way.

You will also revisit some of the different perspectives of play and creativity and reflect on what you understand to be fundamental in supporting the process of children’s learning and development. You will also consider aspects of research around children’s play and creativity which will support your knowledge and understanding of topical issues that affect children’s play and creative experiences. There are no straightforward answers to the question ‘what is play and creativity?’ but this block provides you with some examples of how researching play and creativity with children can help you to critically reflect on your own values and beliefs and help you to form your own opinions about how you may effectively facilitate play and creative experiences now and in the future.

Vocational relevance

It is recommended you negotiate opportunities to experience practice in an early childhood setting during the module (for example in a voluntary capacity) in order to enhance your learning. It is your responsibility to arrange such opportunities with provision in your locality. We recommend you visit such a setting regularly on a weekly or fortnightly basis throughout your time studying the module. 

Please note that in Scotland this course does not lead to Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) registration in day care of children’s services.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the module material and who will provide you with advice and guidance. Your tutor will also mark and comment on your assignments. If you are new to the OU, your tutor can provide additional support with your study skills.

This module includes learning events which are offered through online tutorials. Although not compulsory, attendance at tutorials is recommended; this will help you consolidate your learning. Some learning events will also be recorded and can be accessed online at your convenience.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Future availability

Young children’s play and creativity (E110) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No examination

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic or experiential requirements to study this module.

However, it’s essential you have an interest in young children’s play and creativity. It would also be beneficial for you to arrange access to an early childhood setting if you’re not already working or volunteering in such a setting. We recommend you visit a setting on weekly/fortnightly throughout the module and particularly during Blocks 2 and 3.

Access to settings will require you to meet the ‘fit person’ criteria to work with children in your country. You and your setting are responsible for ensuring you meet these requirements, not the OU.

If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £3636.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2025.

Additional Costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you receive a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Joint loan applications

If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and, therefore, the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2025. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

This information was provided on 21/04/2024.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

The module is organised into three study blocks and you will receive a printed book for each block.

You will have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • audio and video content
  • activities to support your studies
  • links to online forums for you to interact with fellow students and your tutor.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E110 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.