The Joy of Play Educator’s Virtual Conference 2022

24 – 28 January 2022

This is a highly popular event and has sold out in previous years. This conference is for primary and ECE teachers and other professionals with an interest in the use of play as a pedagogical tool for children’s learning. Longworth Education welcomes all those with a passion for bringing play back into New Zealand children’s school experiences.

Celebrating learning through play at school

2022 Online Conference Options

Choose the pass that works best for you!

Pay directly via credit card, or request an invoice for your school

All Access Pass

$180 + GST

Keynote Address: Professor Welby Ings

Closing Presentation: Dr. Sarah Aiono

Over TWENTY on-demand presentations from play experts, practitioners and advocates

Live Q&A Sessions

On-demand options available through until 1 March 2022

Purchase All Access Pass

Limited Access Pass

$140 + GST

Keynote Address: Professor Welby Ings

Closing Presentation: Dr. Sarah Aiono

Your Choice of FOUR on-demand presentations

On-demand options available until 1 March 2022

Purchase Limited Access Pass

Pass Upgrade

$40 + GST

For those who have purchased a Limited Pass and wish to upgrade to an All Access Pass option.

Purchase Pass Upgrade

An All Access Pass provides participants with:

2 keynote speakers*

Professor Welby Ings and Dr. Sarah Aiono


*These sessions will be presented both live and on-demand

Play Presentations

View over TWENTY play presentations from play experts, advocates and practitioners that cover a wide variety of topical issues related to play pedagogy.

These are available on-demand to participants and can be watched and re-watched through until 1 March 2022.

Live Q&A Sessions

Participate in live Q&A sessions throughout the week of 24 – 28 January with the Longworth Education team.

These sessions will cover a range of topics and breakdown some of the content shared from presenters and the keynote speakers.

Access to a private Facebook group

Access to the Joy of Play Facebook group for continued professional discussions, sharing of resources, and networking post-conference.

Speakers 2022


Keynote Speaker

Professor Welby Ings

Professor, Speaker, Author, Inspiring Creator.

Welby Ings is a Professor in Design. He is an elected Fellow of the British Royal Society of Arts and has been a consultant to many international organisations on issues of creativity and learning. He is also a multi-award-winning designer, illustrator, author and filmmaker. He has taught at all levels of the New Zealand school system.

Welby has written and spoken extensively on dehumanised systems of teaching, our obsession with performance, the complex nature of play and the benefits of disobedient thought. His book Disobedient Teaching has had significant influence on educational reform both in New Zealand and internationally. In 2002 Dr Ings was awarded the Prime Minister’s inaugural Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching Excellence and in 2014 he was awarded the AUT University medal for his contributions to research and creativity.


Closing Speaker

Dr. Sarah Aiono

Dr. Sarah Aiono has taught across all levels of the primary school sector, both in mainstream and in special needs settings.

It was her experience working with children who struggled to work within the mainstream, traditional classroom setting, that led her on a journey of inquiry, reflection and research in an attempt to challenge what has always been done. Sarah is a passionate play expert and leader of play pedagogy across the primary school sector. As CEO and co-director of Longworth Education, Sarah works to ensure that teachers feel empowered and inspired to be heroes of both theirs and their students’ learning journeys at school.

A disruptive thinker and disobedient teacher herself, Sarah will challenge conference delegates to not only consider ways to support students who don’t fit the mould of school, but also consider how they can avoid the trap of finding themselves inside the standard ‘square box’ of the teaching profession.

Speakers 2022

A rich Third-Teacher, following child-led interests, and building effective relationships are core teaching values of Alice’s. This breakout session will detail how our ancestors found meaning and connection through the Arts and play, long before the written word. It will draw on Alice’s reflections on the authentic link between the literacy and the arts, and how mother nature provides so many natural teaching tools to assist children with their play. This workshop will inspire educators to take back joyful teaching ideas to their classrooms.

Presenter: Alice Ball
Alice is the director of Play-Led Places an early years (birth to seven) PD provider for educators to feel confident in providing more time for play and patience within the education system.

Suitable For: ECE Level and Junior School Teachers

Six years ago, Keri was presented with possibly the most challenging moment in her teaching career – when a student in her class was triggered by a piece of descriptive writing, and reacted with extreme anger. She realised in this moment that she lacked the tools and strategies needed to support children with their emotions. The daily challenges she faced as a classroom teacher, coupled with parenting her own two children, inspired her to pursue study and the establishment of a play therapy practice in Hawkes Bay. In this workshop, Keri will focus specifically on self-regulation through play. She will share tools and strategies with attendees that they can use in their own settings to support children to become more connected to themselves and to understand the true meaning of emotional intelligence.

Presenter: Keri Benefield
Keri is a teacher and play therapist with more than 20 years experience in the education system. Play therapy differs from regular play in that it uses an integrative and holistic therapeutic technique, through creative arts and a specific toolkit to help support children to identify and express emotions and overcome challenges.

Suitable For: All Levels

In this workshop, Donna will share the findings of her recently completed Master of Education and her journey as a ‘sole-flyer’ in a senior single-cell classroom. She will share how she introduced learning through play, and achieved buy-in from the students. Aspects such as developing relationships with the students, setting up routines and expectations, and making strong links to the school values and key competencies will be shared. Donna will share how she set up, timetabled and supported her students within her single cell setting, as well as the challenges she faced, her personal goals and her future goals following this experience.

Presenter: Donna Reed

Donna has recently completed her Master of Education with a focus on learning through play and its impact on Year 3 and 4 student engagement in writing. As a result of this research, she introduced play to her Year 5/6 students at Bellevue School, Tauranga before traveling to be with family in Australia early in 2021.

Suitable For: Teachers of Year 3 and Above

Toni and Ellyce will share their school’s journey from balanced to structured literacy, while teaching and learning through play. As they taught through play, they grappled with the idea of children being developmentally ready for literacy learning, and teaching structured literacy without losing the gems that were used in a balanced literacy approach, like reading to and with children. They wanted to ensure that they continued to spark their children’s imagination, vocabulary and grow a love of literature, as well as focusing on phonological awareness and phonemic knowledge. This workshop will share how they have invited children to explore literacy through play and will encourage others to share how they may have made this change within a play based environment.

Presenters: Toni Howard and Ellyce Martin

Toni Howard is the Lead Learning Coach in Play and Ellyce Martin is the Lead Learning Coach in Structured Literacy Matua Ngaru School in West Auckland. The school opened in 2019 and consists of flexible learning spaces with collaborative teams leading learning across the school for Years 0-8. Play is an integral part of the school’s curriculum.

Suitable For: All Levels

The role and position of power in a curriculum can influence the type of play along with the level of learner engagement. So what happens when a teacher decides to relinquish their original concept of power in a curriculum and follow the organic systems and routines designed by the children

In this workshop, Donna will share some recent vignettes where she re-examined and critically reflected on my pedagogical practice. She will show how certain concepts from two theorists influenced the changes she made. A pivotal moment was when she chose to reposition her voice in the teaching and learning environment and chose to focus on the authentic voice of play. She specifically chose to prioritise the voice of the learner and moved away from viewing ‘compliance’ and ‘designed learning’ as the daily focus. Donna will share personal insights around the shifts she made, which re-framed her understanding of power and resulted in play being purposeful and influential. By understanding the power she held, she began to design more time and space to centre the daily curriculum around play, and as a result, the learning changed with unique improvements. Not just for the children, but for Donna as well.

Presenter: Donna Chisholm
Donna has recently completed her PGDipEd endorsed in Educational Administration and Leadership with Massey University. While studying she began to wonder about the role and position power could take or present in a learning relationship and environment. Donna is a story teller and avid traveler, who has a passion about play as a valid vehicle to teach and learn.

Suitable For: All Levels

As a school progresses with the implementation of Play across all the age levels, the implications for change to school wide systems and procedures grows. Play may initially ‘take-off’ in a team or class, then expand as others ‘catch-on’ to the movement. It evolves from the ground-up until eventually every class across the school is dabbling in the approach, all at different growth phases of the implementation continuum. It is at this point, when the school is ready to move beyond the exploratory stage, that school leadership needs to take note and help bring everyone together to move the whole school forward effectively and sustainably for the future. To do so requires identifying & utilising the champions; defining, refining and philosophising on the local curriculum; reviewing assessment & planning methodologies, reporting processes; considering changes required to school procedures and policies; and mapping out a strategy and associated resourcing / financial support, so long term goals and vision can be achieved for future sustainability and effectiveness. This workshop will take participants through this journey that is taking place at Oropi School, Tauranga.

Presenter: Andrew King
Andrew is the principal of Oropi School, a rural school located in the Bay of Plenty. His presentation at Longworth Education’s 2021 Virtual Conference was one of the most popular sessions, with participants enjoying hearing how as a school leader Andrew challenges the status quo.

Suitable For: All Levels; Senior Management Teams

In 2020, Russell Street School reported on play to whānau for the first time with the student’s voice. Each student was now actively involved in selecting what they wanted to share with home. They were the voice describing and reflecting on their play-based learning. Beginning their play-based learning journey in 2016, Russell Street School has transitioned naturally from more traditional written reports to learning stories. Most recently, embedding a new school-wide set of values (Ngā Uaratanga) has led to these being used for the assessment and reporting of each student’s play, alongside the the New Zealand Curriculum.In this workshop, Carolyn will share how this collaborative, five-year process of adapting and refining the formal reporting process has been undertaken, and how the journey isn’t over yet!

Presenter: Carolyn Dodd
Carolyn teachers in Waka Huia – a three-teacher Year 0/1 team at Russell Street School in Palmerston North. Russell Street School’s new entrant team have been on their play-based learning journey since 2017.

Suitable For: All Levels; Senior Management Teams

Mentors in senior management roles and itinerant teachers support teachers who are implementing play in their classrooms. To be effective those moving in and out of classrooms across the school setting need to understand the implications of teaching through play to ensure this support is aligned with best classroom practice and play pedagogy. This workshop looks at how to support teachers in their teaching through play journey from an itinerant support role perspective.

Presenter: Janene Huggard
Janene is an experienced classroom and itinerant teacher, working with Deaf Education and as an RTLB in the Hawkes Bay region. She now works in schools supporting teachers with Longworth Education.

Suitable For: All Levels; Senior Management Teams; Itinerant Support; RTLB

Sitting alongside explicit acts of teaching literacy, children engage in a wide range of literacy skills during their play. Setting aside time for careful observations, teachers can capture these ‘literacy moments’ and gift vocabulary, extend understanding, and teach skills without impeding the play. Using photos and videos, Rita and Linda will share some practical ways of spotting opportunities to enhance and extend literacy along with ideas for play invitations with a literacy focus.

Presenters: Rita Palmer and Linda Cheer

After a successful teaching career, Rita moved into the facilitation and presentation field. She has been a literacy facilitator for both Massey and Auckland Universities, a literacy consultant in the USA and for the last 10 years, delivered MOE PLD contracts in schools. In 2019, Rita was awarded the Marie Clay award by the NZ Literacy Association.
Linda is the co-director of Longworth Education. Among any accolades, Linda was recognised in 2017 by the Finnish organisation HundrEd as one of the top 100 innovative Global educators with her work at Longworth Forest School.

Suitable For: All Levels

It could be argued that in every exciting learning through play scenario, a creative and flexible thinking teacher has been involved and is smiling proudly in the wings. From the manipulation of the environment, to the intentional teaching in the play, there is always a role for the creative teacher. Yet in our fast-paced classrooms, accessing that creative space can be easier said than done. In this workshop, Stacey will examine in practical terms:

•What does it look like when a teacher is being creative in the play?

•How can you be creative without taking ownership of the play?

•How do you access this ‘creative space’ for your classroom play?

Presenter: Stacey Mabey
Stacey is Longworth Education’s senior facilitator, and has had a wide range of teaching and leadership roles in NZ, Australia and the UK. She has worked with all age groups from Year 0 through to Year 8 in a range of different schools. Throughout this time, a passion for supporting innovative teaching and authentic child development in schools has continued to be a driving force. Stacey now shares her wealth of knowledge and experience with New Zealand teachers as they look to implement learning through play approaches in their school setting.

Suitable For: All Levels

Julia believes it is about being clear about our purpose, what matters and why we do what we do. Principals need to take the time to clarify their own thinking and then share that with others – over and over again! This workshop is about Julia’s journey with play as a school leader, a journey that has been a long and unplanned one. Her focus is and has always been on protecting childhood and preparing our children for their next steps NOT for NCEA! Ensuring our children are confident and resilient young people, who can make good choices and are mentally, physically and spiritually well is what drives her to do what she does.

He aha te mea nui o te āo? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

Presenter: Julia Bevin
Julia is the principal of Paekakariki School (Home of the Barefoot Learner) on the Kapiti Coast, where they do things a little differently. Prior to this, she was a teaching principal in a small rural school. She is also a Mum to three grown up children and in 2021 undertook postgraduate study with a focus on the role of play across the primary school years.

Suitable For: All Levels: Senior Management Teams

Effective, on-going formative assessment is crucial to ensure there is intentional teaching and learning occurring within play-based environments. Effective planning and assessment are key when teaching through play. The use of the notice/recognise/respond cycle (Carr and Lee, 2019) can support play-based practitioners to reflect on the play that they are observing, and to intentionally plan to extend a child’s learning. Learning stories provide an ideal structure to support teachers with this skill, as well as providing evidence of progress over time. A collection of learning stories over time can highlight a child’s strengths to the child, whānau and the teachers, enabling the child to view themselves as a capable learner with strengths and interests to contribute to their world. During this presentation, Amanda will unpack the learning from her research, and discuss how primary school teachers can use learning stories to support their teaching and learning through play.

Presenter: Amanda King
Amanda is the Mana Rangatira (leader) of the Year 0-3 team at Oropi School in Tauranga. In 2021, she took study leave to complete her MEd thesis, investigating the use of learning stories as an assessment and reporting tool in primary school settings.

Suitable For: All Levels; Senior Management Teams

Are you finding making descriptive comments difficult? You don’t know what to say when children are playing, for fear of interrupting or influencing their play? You can see the urges in play and want to also promote learning of the curriculum areas in authentic contexts in a child-led learning through play primary school environment. In this hands on session, we will investigate the urges we see, examine the learning in these activities, write some descriptive comments, look at tools and resources that help us identify learning areas and learning outcomes, along with tracking curriculum coverage.

Presenters: Pauline Lister and Dr. Sarah Aiono
Pauline is an experienced primary school and ECE trained classroom teacher situated in the Manawatū. She has been on her learning through play journey for 4 years. Dr. Aiono is the CEO of Longworth Education, and supports teachers around Aotearoa to implement evidence based play practices in their primary classroom settings.

Suitable For: All Levels

Central Auckland Specialist School is a school for students with additional learning and other needs. In 2019 they began a project focusing on learning through play in their new entrant 3-class unit. They were interested in discovering whether the aspects of play, which so positively impacts on mainstream students, would be equally effective with students who have a range of neuro-diversities. The school’s particular challenge was whether learning through play would have expected outcomes for students who did not engage with play in a typical manner and who did not communicate in typical ways. Findings were based on informal observations, as well as consideration given to progress recorded in the B-Squared Assessment tool. Their early findings showed very interesting trends in communication, independence and social interactions. With some adaptations, the school found that learning through play can have a profound impact on students with different learning needs.

Presenter: Belinda Rowe
Belinda is the Deputy Principal of Central Auckland Specialist School.

Suitable For: All Levels; Specialist Teachers; ASL’s

The growing interest in ‘Nature Play’ in NZ, brings a fundamental necessity to fully understand the ‘why’ of Forest School education. To wholly understand that ‘why’, we must really dig into the neurology of what happens for children in this setting. For the past 12 years Lucy has been developing her knowledge in this very specified area. Lucy’s passion goes beyond the excitement for enabling more children to simply ‘attend’ a Forest School programme. Her drive is to ensure more teachers are equipped with the knowledge of how to look deeper at the neurological invitations gifted to us as educators by the children themselves in the Forest School setting; analysing what we really are ‘seeing’ to inspire practice in the classroom and native bush that begins with invitations to us, from the children themselves. education organisations.

Presenter: Lucy Stone
Lucy is a NZ registered teacher, and a UK trained Forest School leader. She has set up and run Forest School programmes, undertaken consultancy work; unpicking the neurological ‘why’ of individual cases in the Forest School setting. She currently works alongside mainstream schools; running PLD for their teaching teams. She also presents for more specific areas of mainstream education; such as those with an SEN focus.

Suitable For: All Levels

When children learn through play outdoors, teachers will undoubtedly observe risky physical play. As they climb high, leap and tumble, run the length of the school yard, and find secret places to hide teachers will likely feel their OWN heart rate rising at the same time! While we may know in theory that outdoor learning is valuable for exploring NZ curriculum areas and student play urges, concerns around managing behaviour and health and safety can keep teachers within their comfort zone of the traditional four walls. Ann, together with session attendees, will break down the barriers to risky outdoor play, consider the role of risky play in learning, and share practical strategies for getting outside.

Presenter: Ann Langis

Ann is a passionate advocate for play with over 25 years’ experience as a teacher and holds a Master’s degree in Education from Harvard University. She is a Playcentre educator, classroom teacher, co-founder and Director of Conscious Kids Education, and most recently as Founder and Director of Junky Monkeys loose parts play programme. Through her work as a professional learning coach with Longworth Education, as well as her own consultancy, Ann Langis Play Ltd, she supports schools and communities to understand and activate play. The provision of outdoor risky play is her particular area of expertise, including nature play, large loose parts, and tinkering/makerspace.

Suitable For: All Levels

Ko Tuhirangi te maunga
Ko Tutaekuri te awa
Ko Takitimu te waka
Ko Ngāti Kahungunu te Iwi
Ko Ngāti Hinepare te hapū
Ko Motea te marae
Ko Tammy Nepata-Gibbs ahau

Through a wānanga approach this breakout will include discussions around the implementation and knowledge of traditional Māori pedagogy within play and a Māori view of learning, learners and experts. We will discuss a Pūwaiwaha approach to teaching whereby multiple intelligence is fostered within a classroom. Finally, I will share my experiences of teaching to the Year 7, 8 and 9 year group on a Kura a Iwi, full immersion Māori context.

Presenter: Tammy Nepata-Gibbs

Tammy teaches Pūtaiao (Year 7-9) at Te Kura ā Iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano. In 2022, she will be completing a Masters in Educational Psychology to remedy the influence of colonised classrooms and classroom practice on indigenous people. In addition, she supports teachers, kura and communities through her business Takohatia Te Whaiao to revitilise and share their skills and knowledge in indigenous pedagogy.

Suitable For: All levels, Kura Kaupapa, Senior School Leadership

This presentation will explore the rich learning potential of the traditional weekly ‘big book’, integrating and balancing play opportunities with literacy and cross-curriculum deliberate teaching – utilising the best of both worlds. Anne will include working examples and practical ideas related to well-known big book texts, with prospective play invitations, loose parts, and other relevant resources explored. The ‘noticing, recognising and responding’ to the children’s play, and possible intentional teaching acts will also be discussed. Photos from Anne’s personal practice will be included and she will share how she plans, and weaves in daily big book intentional teaching acts across a play week, and how teaching teams can work ‘smarter’ with big book planning and resourcing. These ideas will be reinforced with links to relevant research and literature. Participants to leave not only feeling motivated and inspired, but also have some new tools in their teaching belts to develop and incorporate the power of big books to provide responsive and authentic learning experiences through a play based lens.

Presenter: Anne Rush
Anne is a transition class and NE/Yr 1 teacher at Northcote Primary School in Auckland. She is leading the introduction of play through the whole of her school and in 2021 took over the coordination of a local school PBL professional learning group.

Suitable for: All Levels

This presentation will discuss the way in which teachers can draw on their student’s interests and passions, using play, to inform inquiries in the early years setting.  By being in the moment with students, present in their play, and listening and observing to the learning occurring, teachers can spark deeper thinking and exploration.  Helen will share her depth of experience in this area as an Early Years educator and as a play purist, who passionately believes in play and the vital role it plays in childhood development and learning.

Presenter: Helen Bartlett
Helen has been an early childhood teacher for over 20 years, in New Zealand, England, Thailand, Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia and Oman.  She is currently teaching in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Through her blog learningnplay, she advocates for the valuable role of play in early childhood.

Suitable for: Early Years Educators

While working across all the sectors of education Elise was always fascinated to find ways for all children to meaningfully participate in education. The journey has led her to discover that our inner worlds, the narratives we hold as learners and that dispositions matter. Play and strengths go together hand in hand motivating and shaping the dispositions we build on for the rest of our lives.

This workshop will share how to recognise the compelling urges from strengths as they show up in your lives. You will be able recognise how play shapes strengths for your learners and how to help lean into them to build narratives of competence and confidence.

Presenter: Elise Anderson

Elise is completing a Masters in Narrative Counselling exploring how the stories we hold of ourselves from young shape the ongoing narratives of our capabilities and wellbeing. She is a passionate educator of 20 years, PLD provider and coach weaving strengths based pedagogy into the heart of education spaces.

Suitable for: All Levels

"I have just had a chance to sit and watch the teaching the key competencies while kids play webinar.  Thanks so much, it was very valuable for me as a beginning teacher to understand ways to be able to teach these in the classroom.  I feel much more confident now to be able to pull something out from my observations of play to work on with the class and how to do this.

"I look forward to more Longworth Education webinars!"

"Your presentation was superb and had me smiling away and laughing out loud!  In fact, your amazingness made me feel quite inadequate!  You will be pleased to know that tomorrow afternoon Room 9 is making 'George's Marvelous Medicine' and my T.Aide is planning to have a magic oven (double-doored cardboard box oven) which produces edible fairy bread once the magical potion is put in!  Let the fun begin!"

"Oh, we had so much fun making Marvelous Medicine! The poor carpet suffered under our creativity though, and we made it into the newsletter this week (because a group of girls were sharing a kids cookbook and made up a fantasy cook-off, telling everyone what group they'd be in and who out of the powers above were going to be the judges) We had a four-group bake off in the staff room, with no-bake fudge/truffle dishes.  The next day The Principal and two Deputy Principals were cordially invited to judge the dishes. Oh, the squeals of delight at the judging! The children all took home cellophane parcels of all the treats.  We honoured Tanvi with massive applause at the end, for taking the book out of the school library and making up the idea!  How much am I enjoying the licence to follow child-led learning?  

"Thank you, Longworth, for all your guidance and affirmation that we are on the right track.  But most of all for leading the charge and changing the tone, under which our children can learn best!  Thank goodness!"