Play. Grow. Learn. An Interview with Christie Burnett

Christie Burnett is an accomplished Aussie blogger who specializes in early education and child development.  Sometime between running her exceptional blog, Childhood 101, and writing a fantastic ebook, she’s also just produced the first issue of a wonderful e-zine, Play.  Grow.  Learn.  Read on to get to know more about Christie and this new resource for parents and educators.  (I only wish you could hear her delightful Aussie accent as well.  Go ahead and add your own if you like.)

 Christie, start out by telling a little about yourself, your background, your blog, and the passion that drives it.

I am an early childhood teacher and have taught in preschool, kindergarten and the first three grades of elementary school. I have also worked as the start up director of a long day care centre, and as a presenter and consultant advising other educators about early education issues.  In all of these roles, I was passionate about communicating to adults (be they parents, colleagues or other educators) the importance of children learning through play. Then I became a mum. Once I was home with my small daughter I found that I wanted to continue to share my passion and a blog seemed a great way to do that. I started Childhood 101  as a way to reach out to parents and to share simple ways to play with young children.

 Your first issue of Play Learn Grow looks fantastic!  How long has this gem been in the works?

I think I seriously began thinking about it in April of this year. Huggies Australia launched their MumInspired program of grants for start up mum-businesses and I applied with the idea of  publishing a quarterly digital e-zine all about play for parents (and educators) of children from birth to five years. The aim being to provide parents with important information and easy to facilitate activity inspiration and project ideas. I was not successful in winning a grant but with the support of my family and the wonderful contributors went on to launch Issue One of Play Grow Learn anyway. The small price per issue ($4) helps to cover the costs of paying the article contributors for their ideas and expertise.

 Tell us a little about your dream for this play-zine and what you hope readers will gain from each issue.

Play Grow Learn brings together the ideas of early childhood educators, others employed in related professions and mothers of young children aged 0 to five years of age with a passion for play. I see it as a resource for anyone involved in the lives of young children. As an example of content, in Issue One readers will find 62 pages of play ideas including;

  • 7 pages of outdoor play
  • Over 30 baby play ideas, for babies from birth to 12 months
  • A quick and easy no-sew Superhero Cape tutorial
  • Ideas for moving beyond building and knocking down towers with blocks
  • One fabulous arty idea for getting your homemade Christmas pressies started
  • Cooking with kids, playing with words, music and dance, bathtime fun & more!
  • PLUS a fantastic full colour, printable set of snap cards!

I’m also a big believer in play-based learning.  Why do you think it’s so important to promote play-based learning and help parents understand its value and how to promote it?

Young children learn through play. It is active and engaging, perfect for switching them on to learning. Children use play to both process and internalise information and ideas gained through real life events, and to construct new knowledge. The first article in Play Grow Learn, entitled Making Play Great, goes on to explain how and why play is so important to children and introduces the idea of a ‘play continuum’ to help demonstrate the role that interested adults play in helping to make the most of play based learning.
That’s so important, and so easily overlooked.  What is one of your favorite experiences with play-based learning?

As an educator I love the challenge of thinking up creative ways to engage young children playfully with learning. One of my favourite examples would have to be using a ‘letter from a character’ that I wrote about recently. The fictional character that we created engaged children of ages 2 through to 5 in so many different ways and they had so much fun learning together in response to the provocation of their educators. The most successful playful learning experiences are those that capture the imagination of the child, and this is most easily achieved if the play and learning is based on the interests of the child. Starting with what a child is passionate about is a surefire way to engage their curiosity and fuel their thirst for knowledge.


Any big dreams for the future you can tell us about?
It has been a busy year so far with the growth of the blog, the launch of my first e-book Art Not Craft: The Process of Learning Creatively, and now the release of Play Grow Learn. I think for now I am just going to take a deep breath, spend more time in the sunshine (thankfully Spring has arrived on this side of the world), and be grateful for all that I have and the support of so many both online and off.

A well-deserved break!  Congrats Christie, and best of luck with your projects!

 If you haven’t been there already, you’ve got to check out Christie’s blog, Childhood 101, as well as her ebook, Art Not Craft: The Process of Learning Creatively, and her new e-zine,  Play Grow Learn today!


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