The topic of play is fundamental to an understanding of how children grow and learn. Although the importance of play has not diminished over time, there are many contested views about what play means and how it should be provided for in a multiplicity of early childhood contexts. There isrecognition amongst early childhood educators that young children's play and learning is dynamic and highly complex. Rapidly changing contemporary societal contexts where children are raised and educated also demand that diverse approaches to play based learning must be considered and updated inmeaningful ways.The importance of play has been recognised in the current Australian Government reforms in early childhood education and the foundation documents for the development of the Early Childhood national curriculum have stated the fundamental importance of play. This book is an essential introduction to the theory of play and its importance in children's development and learning. Current research is used to inform applications to day-to-day curriculum practice in early childhood settings throughout Australia.This book will consider learning theories, professional practice and government policy on children's play during early childhood. There will be a focus on catering for the needs of children including those from culturally diverse backgrounds. Indigenous Australian contexts of play and learning willbe a chapter with play being a whole community activity within Indigenous communities. Likewise, the cultural diversity of families from immigrant and refugee backgrounds require respect and understanding and will be addressed throughout the book. When taken together, this book enables us toconnect the national with the global, through a series of exciting and powerful studies on the challenges, insights and possibilities of play based learning and teaching during early childhood.The book draws on a range of experts who have current views, knowledge and understanding of research in play, each writing from a position of personal expertise and comfort, and thereby enriching the depth of knowledge and understanding to be shared with readers.Making this text user-friendly to the diversity of students we encounter in Australian universities is an important consideration in preparing this book.