Schemas: Enclosing & Enveloping

"We've put these two schemas together because they're linked. Enveloping is often an extension of enclosing."

What To Look For

• Enclosing is characterised by making boundaries around things, or putting things inside boundaries. A child might put plastic animals inside a train track or draw a chalk circle around herself.

• Enveloping is characterised by covering or wrapping things. A child might wrap a doll in blankets or bury his legs in sand.

• Discerning which of these is occurring is not as important as recognising a pattern and supporting the child's play and learning.; Children who display these schemas may also like to:

  • build structures to climb into (tents, huts or pretend castles)
  • include enclosing elements, such as circles, in their painting and drawing
  • wrap themselves up in layers of clothes or bed clothing.

How To Enhance Learning In This Schema

• Talk to the child about what he/she is doing
Give them words to describe what they are doing, such as surrounding, hiding, wrapping, outlining and layering.; Look for ways to encourage exploration. Ask questions, like:

  • What do you think will happen if you wrap too many blankets around yourself?
  • Can you think of another way to wrap the doll up?
  • Do you think you could add a tunnel to your hut?

• Create increasingly stimulating and challenging set-ups
Children need familiarity and repetition, but also variety and challenge.; Without making drastic changes, look for ways to increase the complexity and challenge of an enclosing and enveloping setup.

• Provide for groups of children with similar schemas
Look for ways to enable groups of children with similar schemas to play together. They will stimulate each other, providing encouragement and new ideas.

• Read books about enclosing and enveloping
Children love to hear and read stories about things they are interested in.; Reading books with enclosing and enveloping themes will extend their vocabulary in that area and give them opportunities to explore new ideas about enclosing and enveloping.

• Take pictures and write learning stories
Children learn by revisiting activities again and again. Looking at photos and reading learning stories is a way of revisiting, and an opportunity for children to deepen their understanding of the activity.

Play Ideas That Involve Enclosing & Enveloping

Using skipping ropes and hula hoops to enclose things in (make a border around)
Digging tunnels in the sandpit, or drawing circles around things in the sand
Crawling through a crawl tunnel
Playing under a parachute
Putting on animal costumes
Dipping hands and toys into gloop
Making a fort out of blocks (to enclose things in or climb into)
Burying treasure
Drawing shapes and filling them with colour
Playing under strips of ripped newspaper
Swinging in a barrel swing
Playing with Russian dolls

Te Whāriki

• By supporting a child's schemas, such as enclosing and enveloping, you are encouraging their exploration, empowering them in their passion and nurturing their wellbeing. These are three of the strands of Te Whāriki.

• To learn more about Te Whāriki, visit the website.


Our thanks to the Auckland Playcentre Shop for permission to use this article. Great play starts here.