Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

First Advisor

Denisha Jones

Second Advisor

Patricia Virella

Third Advisor

Jerusha Beckerman


At its current state, the educational system in America seems doomed with its single-minded, single-method approach to education. Educational systems in many parts of the world are formally instructed with a huge emphasis on teaching to the tests. Despite an understanding of the importance of exploration in the classroom, play is not seen as learning. When teachers aim to include play in their classroom, often children are not playing at all. In relationship to that debate, I argue that play is the essence of any classroom.

The research I have completed has provided me with articles and field experience that supports the necessity for a play-based education and ways in which to foster and advocate for play within the classroom. Play enables us, as educators, to see each child as unique, different, and interesting in their own way. Through supporting children's interests, questions, and ideas, curriculum can be planned. Through providing children with open-ended materials, an environment, and documentation of work, we raise questions and focus closely on their ideas and interests. By allowing children to explore and play, we enable them to communicate in the purest form. This thesis will aim to discuss ways in which play should be seen as essential to every classroom.