While studying aspects of play and play theory, I happened to listen to a lecture by Chris Crawford about phylogeny of play. He argues about how play and learning are two sides of the same coin, and makes the argument that ontogeny of human play echoes the phylogeny of human play. It’s a fascinating read if you are interested in play theories: http://www.erasmatazz.com/TheLibrary/Science/PhylogenyOfPlay/PhylogenyOfPlay.html
One important takeaway from his lecture was that for children, especially very young children, the mind learns through the body by playing.
These are links to a video when he’d given this talk somewhere: (its in 3 parts) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9N1GGAi1C8