Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MA in Child Development


Child Development Graduate Program


This thesis looks at how teachers from Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and the United States viewed play before and after observing children participating in a Community Adventure Play Experience (CAPE). A CAPE is a play experience that utilizes “loose parts” (materials that can be played with and used to create, but are not traditional toys, i.e. tires, sticks, boxes, etc.) instead of manufactured toys and play equipment. In many schools, children are being allowed fewer and fewer opportunities to play as teachers try to cram more and more academic material into the school day. However, all of the literature suggests that play plays a key role in learning and development. With CAPEs, we were able to show teachers of young children the essence of that point of view. We interviewed teachers before and after observing a CAPE so that we could document their thoughts about the experience, and whether it changed their view of play. This thesis focuses on the memories that teachers had of their own play experience as children, their thoughts on whether or not play had changed, and how it had changed since they were children. This led to an analysis of the assumption that increased access to manufactured toys and electronics has encouraged a change in children’s play. We found that many teachers remembered engaging in loose-part, CAPE-like play as children. Before the CAPE, they felt that play had changed, in large part because of increased access to manufactured toys and electronics, particularly in the US. After the CAPE, they felt that play, at its core, was the same.