The Interest Forest is a free online programming tool for early childhood educators in Australia. Plan programs based on children's interests, with efficiency and intention.

What are children's interests?

The National Quality Standard requires educational programs to be child-centred and founded on each child’s current knowledge, strengths, ideas, culture, abilities and interests.

Educators can tell what a child is interested in by observing them during play, interacting with them, and asking their family. Children usually spend a lot of time doing the things that interest them.

How to use The Interest Forest

Educators can search for children's interests on The Interest Forest. They can also search for topics they believe are important for children to learn about (e.g. diversity and handwashing).

The Interest Forest has hundreds of interest topics. For each topic, we list relevant learning provisions:

  • play experiences
  • learning environment set-ups
  • ideas for interacting with children
  • ways to teach through routines
  • ways to connect with families and the community
  • special events
  • multimedia resources like music and videos.

Our interest topic pages link to related topics, to help you extend children's interests into new areas (e.g. if a child loves food, introduce them to nutrition and cooking).

Use The Interest Forest to plan follow-up experiences for a child's interest or map out a group project. The Interest Forest can also be used with your children in the classroom, to answer their questions and find ideas during spontaneous play.

Aligned with EYLF and NQS

The Interest Forest is designed for Australian early childhood education settings: long day care, occasional care, preschools and kindergartens, early learning centres, and family daycare. We provide for all age groups between birth and the start of school.

The learning provisions on The Interest Forest are driven by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the National Quality Standard (NQS). All experiences are open-ended and play-based, and most can be directed by the children.

Why was The Interest Forest created?

The Interest Forest was created in response to widespread feedback from the early childhood education sector. We understand that educators want less paperwork and more time with the children.

Employment awards state that educators who are responsible for programming need to be given at least two hours of non-contact time each week. Educational leaders may be entitled to four hours. Unfortunately, many educators want more time than they currently receive.

The Interest Forest makes planning and programming easier and faster. We don't provide cookie-cutter lesson plans, because young children need learning provisions that are personalised and thoughtful. But, we have researched and brainstormed thousands of teaching ideas that you can adapt for different ages and contexts.

The Interest Forest supports educators to think differently and try new things. Early childhood educators can also use The Interest Forest to recall amazing teaching ideas they've completely forgotten.