Playing and schooling are usually considered as separate activities. In this article, we argue that these activities can be reconciled in order to design learning experiences that are more exploratory and engaging. Taking a socio-cultural perspective on playing and learning, we provide examples that bridge museum experiences with school-based activities in order to facilitate students’ learning of scientific concepts. In the project discussed, different technological devices are used as play-based tools for connecting science learning in the two institutional settings. In this article we discuss the implications of research in different fields of inquiry for designing play-based learning activities. We illustrate this complexity by analyzing how a multi-disciplinary professional group negotiated their understandings of how playing and learning could be combined, and we give a brief presentation of how the actual learning trajectory was operationalized into design.
Originally published in: Children, Youth and Environments 21(2), 2011 http://colorado.edu/journals/cye