Education K-12 M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Silmser, Lisa


This paper’s essential questions were to study the impact of play on various developmental domains like physical, social-emotional, language, and cognitive. Then these developmental domains were incorporated via a play-based curriculum in the form of learning centers and outdoor spaces. Finally, the role of teachers was explored. The specific research questions leading to the main question, how can a play-based curriculum help in the child’s holistic development were – what is play and its importance in early years, how does play impact the holistic development of children, and how to implement play in early childhood education. Play has been highly viewed as the primary means in which children make sense of the world (Piaget, 1962; Vygotsky, 1967). Research provides persuasive evidence that play can build strong foundations for physical development, fine and gross motor skills, and health (Bjorklund & Brown, 1998); social and emotional development by practicing social interactions; language development (Fisher, 1992); cognitive development (Brown, 2014), and most importantly it makes them happy (Gray, 2011). Given the holistic developmental significance that play offers in early years of the child, it is crucial to note that play is the most appropriate way to develop and learn for children in early childhood classrooms. Play can be the most engaging and natural process. Play as a means of instruction in early childhood classrooms can be implemented through learning centers and outdoor play areas. Learning centers and outdoor play areas provide diverse learning experiences that can lead to holistic development of children and ample play opportunities. Within this play-based curriculum, the teacherˈs role is to provide opportunities to children to play independently, through guidance, and by balancing the act of free play and guided play. In conclusion, play-based curriculum is most critical and developmentally appropriate in holistic development and in realizing childˈs potential to give society a healthy, happy, social, caring, creative, intellectual, and responsible generation.

Degree Name

Education K-12 M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis

Included in

Education Commons