Unit 1: Why is Play Important?


Unit Objectives

After completing this unit the participant will be able to:

  • Explain the benefits of play for young children's learning.
  • Develop guidelines for effective play-based activities.
  • Use research to defend choices in teaching strategies.

What Do Children Say About Play?

Right click on the following link to open the video in a new window. If you simply click on the link you will need to use your browser's back button to return to this page.
Children Speaking About The Importance of Play

What Does Research Say?

Please read both articles carefully. Remember: right-click to open the article in a new window. If you left-click on the article, you will need use your browser's 'back' button to come back to this page.

Sally Hurwirz's Article To Be Successful-Let Them Play reminds us of the important role that playing plays in childhood development. The author explains how play-based activities help children to develop the skills necessary for future success in education and in the world.

To Be Successful Let Them Play

The following article discusses DAP (Developmentally Appropriate Practices) in early childhood education. The authors connect DAP to scientific research about brain development. As you are reading, think about how this connects to what you have previously learned about childhood development. This article should help you to develop an idea about what effective learning experiences should look like in the early childhood classroom (Birth - Second Grade).

Shaping the Learning Environment



1. In the discussion tab for this unit, create a tread to discuss your thoughts on play based learning. Why is it important? What does it look like? How might you use it as a teacher? Cite specific examples from the readings. Comment on at least one other participant's thread, and respond to any comments on your own thread.

2. Click the following link to open our collaborative list of qualities of effective play-based learning activities. Add/Edit the criteria, by clicking "Edit Document" on the upper right hand side of the page. Changes will be saved automatically. We will use this criteria to evaluate learning activities in the next unit.

| Effectiveness Criteria


Hurwitz, S. C. (2002). To be successful--let them play! (For Parents Particularly). Childhood Education, 79(2), 101+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.libproxy.albany.edu/ps/i.doid=GALE%7CA96193637&v=2.1&u=albanyu&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=b87d4d96d909f61b480f7f7212df7984
Mayesky, M. (2012). Creative activities for young children (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Rushton, S., & Larkin, E. (2001). Shaping the Learning Environment: Connecting Developmentally Appropriate Practices to Brain Research. Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(1), 25.


Play-learn.jpg Play Based Learning

EffectiveActivities.jpg Unit 2: Effective Play-Based Learning Activities

Standards.png Unit 3: Justifying Play Based Learning

ChelseaTroeller.jpg Chelsea Troeller