Barrier games (felt scenes) - experience plan

This experience involves two players taking turns to provide instructions about a hidden scene.

A barrier is used to block the view of one person and they have to create a matching scene using the instructions from their partner. This fun experience provides opportunities for learning grammar concepts and vocabulary, as well as social skills, listening and attention.

This experience should be differentiated depending on the individual child/group level.

This learning experience plan relates to:

  • interacting with others
  • language and emergent literacy learner (36-60 months of age)
  • learning foci: grammar, explanations and sharing information
  • teaching practice: play.

Collect information

What information has been gathered as evidence to inform this experience?

Outcome 4: learning

Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.

  • Persevere and experience the satisfaction of achievement.

Outcome 5: communication

Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes.

  • Show increasing knowledge, understanding and skill in conveying meaning.
  • Are independent communicators who initiate Standard Australian English and home language conversations, and demonstrate the ability to meet the listener’s needs.

Victorian Curriculum levels F-2: language

Understand the use of vocabulary in familiar contexts related to everyday experiences, personal interests and topics taught at school.

Learning intentions

  • For children to understand and use full sentences.
  • For children to understand and use conjunctions, such as ‘and’, ‘if’ or ‘but’.
  • For children to understand and use inflections, such as ‘ing’ verb ending or plural ‘s’.

Assessment of learning

Learning is demonstrated when children:

  • follow and/or use a complete sentence containing smaller grammatical units such as ‘the’ and ‘is’
  • understand and use conjunctions such as ‘and’ and ‘but’ to join words and ideas
  • understand and use inflections on the ends of words to indicate tense and number such as plural ‘s’ ending and verb ending in ‘ing’.


  • Barrier, e.g. folder, wooden divider, large hardcover book
  • Two identical sets of fuzzy felt materials must be used. It is important to have exact duplicates so that the scene can be reproduced by the communication partner.
  • Use materials which are best suited to the interests of the child/children you are working with, e.g. underwater scene or farm scene.

Group size

Individual child paired with educator or two children paired together with adult support.


Differentiation should be based on prior assessment of the child/children’s communication skills. Examples of differentiation:

  • for a child who is confident and clearly articulating the scene set up, educators could extend their learning by pairing them with another child and providing them with a more complex scene. In doing this, the child is required to use more specific and complex language to ensure the listener can follow the necessary steps.
  • for a child who is having difficulty following instructions, educators could break up the instructions into parts, using gestures/visuals to assist comprehension. Educators might also provide repetitions as necessary, emphasise key words, and reduce the amount of felt pieces required in the scene.

Experience process

  1. Clearly articulate the learning intentions and set up the game:
    • explain to the children that they are going to take turns at explaining how to create the hidden scene. If an educator is playing with a child, it is best to have the adult have the first turn at giving directions so they can provide the necessary modelling.
    • ensure that children know all of the items before commencing; if they are unfamiliar with one or more items either teach this particular vocabulary or remove it to include later.
    • place the barrier between the two sets of items so that the two players cannot see the other set of materials.
    • talk about the two different roles; the person who gives directions and the person who listens and follows instructions. Provide examples as necessary.
    • emphasise that instructions need to be clear for the other person to understand. Discuss “clear talking” with the children and how the listener should clarify something that hasn’t been understood.
    • reiterate the aim of the experience - to create exactly the same felt scene on both sides of the barrier!
  2. Playing the barrier game:
    • the person who is to start in the ‘talking’ role creates a scene, hiding it from the other player (set up can be done prior to commencing to assist any children who are still becoming familiar with the process).
    • the ‘talker’ begins giving instructions to the other player who follows the directions without looking on the other side of the barrier.
    • the ‘talker’ continues as above until the scene is complete at which point, you remove the barrier and talk about the similarities and any differences. At this point, fix any differences with the children and model the appropriate language as this is done. e.g. “So all but one of the ducks goes on the hill”.
  3. Use the strategies below to support the learning throughout:
    • ask clarifying questions to prompt the child to include more detail in their instructions. e.g., "which person goes in the house?” or “do you mean the small green train or the big blue one?”
    • encourage pauses between instructions to ensure players have adequate time to process the directions.
    • extend on what children have said, highlighting more complete sentences.
    • provide verbal and non-verbal feedback in response to child’s instructions, e.g. “I understand” and nodding.
    • provide specific feedback about grammar usage and understanding, relating it to the learning intentions above. e.g., “I heard an “s” on the end of cats - that tells me there is more than one.”
    • encourage the children to provide all the information required by using prompts. E.g. “I still have three more cars, do they need to go somewhere on the board?”
    • repeat instructions for the children as necessary and emphasise key information words in the instructions.
    • gradually increase the length and complexity of the instructions if you can see the child is ready for it.
  4. To consolidate and assess understanding, talk about and compare the two scenes. Provide specific and positive feedback to the children on their listening, talking, and persistence and revisit the steps that were taken to create the scenes. If the scenes differed at the end, educators should discuss these gaps for the children. For example, “I put only one shark in the green water but I needed all the sharks in there”.

Going further

This experience can be easily extended depending on the child’s interests or skills. For example:

  • providing art easels or chalkboards so that children can create the same picture through drawing.
  • using a small chair/table as a barrier in the sand pit and encouraging children to create the same sandcastle or construction, employing the same strategies as above to support their learning.


Reflective questions for educators may include:

  • What learning has occurred? How do you know?
  • What have you realised about the child’s interests, knowledge, and capabilities?
  • In discussion with colleagues, what would you plan next to consolidate or extend children’s learning?

Additional/alternate resources for this learning experience

  • Identical sets of:
    • sticker scenes and stickers
    • pictures and coloured textas
    • connective blocks
  • Games; e.g. Guess Who™ and Connect Four™.