There is increasing interest in finding better ways to support the learning of concepts in play-based programs in early childhood settings. The introduction of terms such as ‘eduplay’ in Hong Kong, ‘Purposeful play’ in Singapore, and ‘intentional teaching’ in play-based programs in Australia, suggest that educators are working in different ways to build new practices that bring play and learning together to support children’s development. This paper contributes to this research landscape by introducing a pedagogical intervention called Conceptual Playworlds. This practice model is theorised using the Vygotskian concepts of imagination and play, and Hedegaardian model of societal values, institutional practices and activity settings as foundational for studying the learning of concepts in play-based settings. The content of this paper is situated in the changing early childhood curriculum context of the Australasian region, where social values for greater outcomes are shaping institutional practices which create new demands and different conditions for children’s development.