University of Helsinki


Grounded in an understanding that play is integral to children’s learning and development, the Playful Learning Center (PLC) is dedicated to supporting the cognitive, social, emotional and physical development and well-being of all young children. Situated at the Faculty of Educational Sciences of the University of Helsinki, PLC is the fore-runner in developing the most sophisticated teaching, research and community engagement initiative in higher education. It is a transformational endeavor that aims to create and enrich learning opportunities for young children from birth onwards.

The Playful Learning Center is a leader in researching, communicating and enhancing the benefits of playful learning in Finland and globally. It generates research knowledge on play and learning, and offers a place to both learn through creative play and to learn how to play in new and engaging ways.

The Playful Learning Center conducts multi-disciplinary research on play and learning, develops and shares pedagogical models, learning environments and materials which can accelerate children’s holistic learning processes, promoting children’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development in unison. It is argued that such playful learning experiences can create a strong foundation for children’s future learning journeys at school and beyond for citizenship, working life and adulthood.

The Playful Learning Center is about:

  • Generating cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary research knowledge on play and learning in childhood
  • Promoting young children’s learning through play via co-designed and interactive educational experiences to inspire imagination and ignite every child’s love of learning.
  • A network of academic scholars, early childhood education and care centres, schools, libraries, museums and science centers as well as entrepreneurs across Finland who are helping to pioneer innovation in the early years and translate research into practice.
  • A purpose-built facility that operates as an international hub for multidisciplinary research, tackling issues around children’s holistic learning and development and social inclusion.
  • Offers early childhood education courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels as well as professional development of early years educators.

PLC conducts research, develops, communicates and provides valuable learning experiences for young children and adults through play-based learning. Activities are designed to allow children to take control and share their imagination and creativity with others. Distinctive features of the educational activities researched and offered at PLC include;

  • Encouraging engagement, social interaction, imagination, creativity and joy of learning
  • Nourishing the connection between play and learning and children’s holistic development and wellbeing
  • Aligning with the Finnish early childhood and primary school curricula with a specific focus on multiliteracy, science, technology, mathematics, arts and engineering, as well as creativity
  • Using materials and tools that are aesthetically appealing, involve seamless integration of technology to enhance the learning experience, and encourage children to use their imagination to create artefacts and solutions that build on but also go beyond their earlier knowledge and experiences.
  • Extending playful learning in the home, communities and in children’s everyday life.

The Playful Learning Center is a place for imagination, collaboration and interaction, and transformation that ignites a love of learning to last a lifetime.