Bluey’s Best Play-Based Learning Ideas

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Bluey
Jeanne Sager

Written by Jeanne Sager

If you haven’t watched endless hours of Bluey, chances are you’ve heard about him in your classroom, especially if you teach pre-K or kindergarten. The Australian TV show about a family of cartoon dogs arrived in America on Disney+ before appearing on the Disney Channel, and to say it’s a hit is a bit of an understatement.

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Kids are obsessed with everything Bluey: Bluey’s friends, Bluey’s house, and well, just about anything else the 7-minute-long episodes can serve up. But if you’re a teacher trying to figure out how to use that Bluey energy in your classroom, you’ve come to the right place.

Early childhood teachers, in particular, will appreciate the organic and child-directed play scenarios which unfold beautifully in each episode.

For those who haven’t, the show centers around a family of cattle dogs, daughters Bluey (6) and Bingo (4), and their parents, Bandit and Chilli (dad and mom, to most!). Bluey has been highly acclaimed, having won an Emmy award since its pilot aired in 2018 and earning high praise from parents everywhere.

Bluey Gets Play-Based Learning So Right

For teachers and parents, Bluey has become a fresh source of inspiration, illustrating the way children’s play unfolds, develops and ultimately, teaches.

We know how vital play-based learning is in early childhood development, and Bluey demonstrates the simplicity and authenticity found in open-ended, organic play opportunities found in the every day.

As an early years teacher, watching Bluey and her peers play reminds me of observing young students play in my classroom; the medical center, the shop, and the home are all established favorites in a play-based learning space. That’s not accidental. As Joe Brumm, Bluey creator told The First Five Years:

Socio dramatic play is the pinnacle of play for four to six-year olds and it drives the heart of the show. This type of play sees kids working at their highest level of imagination, cooperation and group interaction.

So here are our ten favorite socio-dramatic play-based learning scenarios from Bluey:

(1) Grannies

In episode 28, Bluey and Bingo pretend to be grannies called Rita and Janet. They disagree over whether grannies do the Floss dance.

“You can only do what grannies do, and grannies don’t floss!” – Bluey

In order to resolve the issue, the puppies video call their Nana and teach her how to floss.

(2) Shops

“Hooray!” – Neighbourhood Pups

In episode 23, “Shops”, MacKenzie, Bluey’s neighborhood friend, becomes upset when Bluey makes up too many rules for their checkout game. The friends work out a way to simplify the rules so that everyone can understand and get on with the fun!

(3) Pirates

In “Pirates” (episode 27), Bluey, Bingo, and their friend Missy imagine that the hammock swing at their local park is a pirate ship. Missy is afraid of the journey on the high seas, until Bandit, Bluey’s dad, jumps into the action and facilitates a safe and joyful experience for all of the pups. This episode beautifully illustrates the role of the adult in supporting children’s play.

(4) Queens

“Stop! Butler, the royal bottom is itchy. I demand you scratch it!” – Bingo

Episode 75, “Queens” is an excellent example of how play helps children develop social skills such as turn-taking. Bingo decides to dress up as a queen, and then allows Bluey to take her place as the queen in order for the game to continue harmoniously. Ultimately, both sisters decide they prefer to play the butler, so they dress Chilli up as the queen.

(5) The Show

“I have a little cry, then I pick myself up, dust myself off and keep going!” – Chilli

Play also helps young children develop personal skills, like resilience. In episode 71, “The Show”, Bingo drops a plate of Mother’s Day Breakfast and is upset for ‘ruining’ Chilli’s day. So Chilli models how she works through things when she makes a mistake. This sort of self-talk modeling is super helpful and an example of how adults can enrich children’s play, with small but meaningful interactions. Chilli encourages her daughters to put on a Mother’s Day performance.

(6) Fancy Restaurant

“I’ll just have the baked beans, then.” – Chilli

When the pups find their parents enjoying a quiet moment of peace (Chilli reading and Bandit chopping his toenails onto the floor with a pair of scissors!!!), they demand to see them smoochy-kiss. But Chilli’s not feeling the very romance, so the girls set up a fancy restaurant (episode 69).

(7) Dad Baby

“Too easy, man. Don’t know what all the fuss is about!” – Bandit

Sometimes the discovery of a single item can lead to a whole dramatic play experience. Episode 65, “Dad Baby”, starts with Bingo finding her old baby carrier. She implores her dad to play a game called Dad Baby, in which he’s pregnant. Hilarity ensues, and Chilli (along with all the moms watching) nods in solidarity as Bandit endures the joys of pregnancy… and then childbirth!

(8) Mum School

“They’re my children. I gave birth to them all!” – Bluey

Bluey avoids bath time by convincing her mom to play a game called “Mum School” in episode 66. Bluey has herself a litter of children (which are actually balloons) and wants to train to become their mom.

Inspired by Bluey? Check out these play-based learning ideas for the classroom!

All gifs via GIPHY

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