Since 2009 Sue has established a reputation as an Early Years Researcher taking on the role of lead researcher at Play to Z, writing funding bids and research briefs, liaising with universities and/or participants, carrying out research, analysing findings, drafting research reports, articles and books. Sue’s books and training draw heavily upon original and contemporary research tofurther our understanding of the importance of sensorial play and benefits of play with objects for the development of the body and brain. The latest of these focuses on children’s hand movements as they play and explore. Play to Z has established an enviable reputation for its research:
- National Sensory Play Research project in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University. 77 observations were carried out in children’s centres, nurseries and homes throughout the country with 8 month to 5 year olds to explore children’s responses to sensory-rich Treasure Baskets and to map play during each stage of the sensory play continuum. Questionnaires provided a snapshot of parents’ and practitioners’ own sensory ‘experiences’ (2009, EEDA funded).
- Cutting edge pilot research project with the University of Hertfordshire and Games for Life, mapping brain activity while early years children played with a Treasure Basket (2011)
- Weekly play observations were carried out in an Essex-based Activity Centre over a six month period. The observations culminated in the development of a typology of Treasure Basket behaviours (2011/12).
- National Hands Movement research - ongoing in partnership with Jan White (2013/14). Although only a pilot project a number of tentative findings were identified.
Sue’s current research focus is threefold:
- The potential benefits of using sensory-rich objects to support adults with Alzheimer’s – a 10 week Masters project being led by Kevin Hughes. Click here for a summary of the research and more details on how to get involved.
- The special attributes of messy play resources in supporting children’s therapeutic play – an ongoing Diploma project led by Sue Gascoyne using a questionnaire and casestudy observations.
- A comparison between the fine motor actions evident in children’s play and the exploratory hand procedures of adults – a 10 week Masters project being led by Katie Kumiscia. Click here for a summary of the research and more details on how to get involved.