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Teachers as Playful Academics

PUP Talk (webinar) - free and open to all

Info about event


Monday 1 November 2021,  at 09:00 - 10:30


Online (Zoom)


Press here to register for the event





  • Belinda Dean, MCPT, BN, RND1, RPT, is a Lecturer in Play Therapy at Deakin University. Belinda is the director of Light Heart Play Therapy and practices play therapy and offers clinical supervision. Belinda Dean on Linked-In.
  • Judi Parson, PhD, MA Play Therapy, MHlthSc Nrg Ed, GD Paed, BN, RN., is the Discipline Lead, Course Director and Senior Lecturer in Play Therapy at Deakin University. Judi also engages in clinical play therapy with a small caseload, and clinical and research supervision. Judi Parson on Linked-In, Twitter: @judiparson.



In higher education, playful approaches to teaching are challenging for some academics especially since play could be considered childish when serious nursing topics are described and explored. Nevertheless, integrating playful andragogy may lead to improved educational outcomes by including the art and science of play therapy techniques within teaching scholarship. The use of play-based approaches in teaching are powerful because play is recognised as the change agent to facilitate communication, including both direct and indirect teaching. Play also enhances creative problem solving, social relationships, empathy, and self-esteem, which are crucial skills for nurses to develop. Innovative play-based education employing, for example, games, puppets and dramatic role-play activities, is evidenced in the literature. Furthermore, projective, small world play in the teaching of nursing concepts has had a significant positive effect on student learning outcomes. In small world play, miniature replicas of people, animals, buildings, furnishings and other relevant toys are utilized to simulate real life medical scenarios. This presentation will showcase some playful examples that could be integrated into education.    


Additional Information

  • Pre-reading for the webinar: Renshaw, K., Parson, J., & Zimmer, T. (2019) Holistic play development. Deakin University. PDF
  • During the webinar participant will be engaging in two experiential activities. This requires the following resources: coloured pencils, crayons, or felt-tip pens, and two pieces of A4 or A3 paper.  A range of small miniatures such as small toys, objects, symbols, stationary, or items from nature. (i.e. smaller than the size of a tennis ball). 



  • Activity 1: Embodiment play – Interoception
  • Activity 2: Projective play – Miniature meaning making



  1. Dean and Parson (2021) Playful teaching in higher education: Teachers as playful academics. Journal of Play in Adulthood.
  2. Goldingay, S., Stagnitti, K., Dean, B., Robertson, N., Davidson, D., Francis, E., (2020). Storying beyond Social Difficulties with Neuro-Diverse Adolescents. The “Imagine, Create, Belong” Social Development Programme. Routledge.
  3. Goldingay, S., Stagnitti, K., Robertson, N., Pepin, G., Sheppard, L., Dean, B. (2020) Implicit play or explicit cognitive behavioural therapy: The impact of intervention approaches to facilitate social skills development in adolescents Australian Occupational Therapy Journal
  4. Parson, J. (2008). Integration of procedural play for children undergoing cystic fibrosis treatment: A nursing perspective. Unpublished PhD. Central Queensland University.
  5. Parson, J. (2017). Puppet play therapy: Integrating Theory, Evidence and Action (ITEA) (pp. Adapted from C.E. Schaefer and A.A. Drewes (2014) The therapeutic powers of play: 2020 core agents of change. ). Presented at International Play Therapy Study Group Champneys Forest Mere UK.
  6. Parson, J., & Renshaw, K. (2017). Therapeutic Powers of Play
  7. Prendiville, E., & Parson, J. A. (2021) Clinical applications of the Therapeutic powers of play: Case studies on child and adolescent psychotherapy. Oxon, Routledge.


Please register before 27.10.2021