Schemas are patterns of repeatable behaviour, persistent actions or compulsions which can often be noticed in young children's play. A schema can be demonstrated through a child's actions, language, drawings, 3D modelling, movement, speech or play. Schemas indicate the childs focus in an activity. Not every child has strong schemas, some children may only display schematic play for a short period of time before moving onto another schema or some children may never display schematic play.
Some easily identifiable schemas are:
For example- carrying objects from one place to another; pushing a friend around in a toy pram; filling shopping bags, buggies, trailers etc.
For example- covering themselves in a flannel when washing; wrapping dolls and toys up in blankets and fabric; covering their painting with one colour; exploring under and inside; filling bags up; dressing up; burying things; going inside tents, tunnels, and play house; writing letters- folding and using envelopes; filling containers with sand and water; den building. This focus can be used to develop understanding of space, size, volume and capacity.
Enclosure/containing-A child may put their thumb in and out of their mouth; fill up and empty containers of all kinds; climb into large boxes; sit in the tunnel; build 'cages' with blocks.
Trajectory;Diagonal/vertical/horizontal- A child may gaze at your face; drop things from their cot; make arcs in their spilt food with their hand; play with the running water in the bathroom; climb up and jump off furniture; line up the cars; bounce and kick balls; throwing and throwing games. Children interested in trajectories enjoy very active learning- they run / climb / jump/ enjoy throwing and kicking balls. Children often enjoy work with pulleys and playing ball games. They are often interested in woodwork or percussion or fascinated by rockets and enjoy learning about planets and space.
Here are some great links to more, in depth (and intellectual!) information on schema.
A useful PDF on developing play in different areas through schema
Ideas for developing schema