Schemas: trajectory

What To Look For

"This schema is characterised by a fascination with movement, especially of things that fly through the air.; Children who are focused on trajectories love things like throwing balls, squirting water from a hose, splatting paint and being on a swing."

They may also like to:

  • watch activities that involve movement
  • read books about movement
  • be the trajectory object themselves (on a slide or swing, for example).

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 aiming, launching, throwing, swinging and sprinkling.

Look for ways to encourage exploration. Ask questions, like:

  • What do you think will happen if you give the (paper) plane a pointy nose?
  • Can you think of another way to launch that?
  • Do you think the water will go further if you point the hose higher?

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 a trajectory 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 trajectories

Children love to hear and read stories about things they are interested in.

Reading books with trajectory themes will extend their trajectory vocabulary and give them opportunities to explore new ideas about trajectories.

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 trajectories

Paper-plane flying
Throwing paint-filled sponges against a wall
Launching toy cars off a ramp (small piece of wood)
Knocking down a tower of blocks (a perennial favourite!)
Sliding down a waterslide
Running and jumping through a newspaper sheet
Blowing bubbles
Squirting with squirty bottles
Smashing ice (safety glasses needed!)
Playing on swings and slides
Rolling hula hoops
Doing water play with funnels and pouring containers

Te Whāriki

By supporting a child's schema, such as trajectories, 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.