Unit 3: Justifying Play Based Learning


Unit Objectives

After completing this unit the learner will be able to:

  • Read and understand different teaching standards
  • Align play activities to learning standards.
  • Use multiple resources to justify play based education.

Why Play? Why Justify Play?

“Play Is The Work of the Child” Maria Montessori Read more:

At this point in the course, we have seen multiple sources and examples displaying the essential role that play has in childhood development. Still, today's schools are very focused on standards and accountabilityCite error: Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no name must have content

Teachers wishing to implement Learning Through Play in their classroom will likely face a number of opposition forces including (but not limited to) parents, coworkers, and school administrators.

There are many tools available to teachers to help us justify the use of play in our classroom, and to help others understand how children learn through these activities.

How to Justify Play

Published Works (books, articles, etc.)

Professional research findings support learning through play. This type of research is a tool that can be used by teachers to help others to understand why play has a vital space in their teachings. The research presented in this course thus far is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to play based learning. Following are three more professional research based tools which teachers can use to justify choosing play based learning activities.

Parent Information

In addition to using research findings/ articles about the importance of play, There are many resoursource available to help teachers distribute information to both parents and profeccionals.

Real Life Evidence/ Experience

There are many different ways for teachers to assess student learning and evaluate instructional design. Assessment and Evaluation remain integral to the design process when a teacher implements play based learning. The results of this assessment/ evaluation can either help the teacher to justify use of the play based activity, or help the teacher to redesign the activity to better achieve the desired learning/ developmental outcomes.


As standards are becoming more and more the central focus of the educational community, it is important that a teacher be able to align learning activities to these standards. Highlighting connections and alignment between play activities and the standards can be a huge component in justifying the use of such activities. The following section focuses on reading/ understanding teaching standards, and aligning lessons/ activities to these standards.

New York State Early Childhood Standards

Common Core State Standards

"The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have voluntarily adopted and are moving forward with the Common Core." CCSS

In Early Childhood Education, these standards are applicable to Kindergarten through Second Grade. If you are in a district, school, or classroom using these standards, it is important to align your activities to the standards.

New York State Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core

"The New York State Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core will provide an essential beginning tor developing and implementing high quality curriculum, creating meaningful and appropriate learning experiences for four-year-olds across New York State, and informing other critical processes such as designing learning environments, planning standards based instruction and assessment, as well as pre-service and in-service training for administrators and teachers, and results-oriented parent engagement." NYSPFCC

The foundation for the common core has been being designed and redesigned since 2011, to encompass the Common Core Standards, and address the needs of all students (including those with disabilities). The refined foundation is gaining increasing popularity among early childhood learning centers.

Head Start Approaches to School Readiness

"The Head Start Approach to School Readiness encompasses three major frameworks that promote an understanding of school readiness for parents and families, infants/toddlers, and preschoolers. The three frameworks and their accompanying graphics provide the foundation for implementing systemic and integrated comprehensive child development services and family engagement efforts that lead to school readiness for young children and families." HSASR

Head Start Programs support low-income families throughout the country. There are many different head start programs, which provide support to families and children from prenatal to school age.

Reading and Aligning to the Standards

To read the standards, the teacher must select the most broad element of the standard first, and then work in towards the more detailed elements. The table below outlines the elements of four different published standards currently being used in Early Childhood Education Programs in New York State. The teacher can align learning activities to standards by reading and identifying at least one element from each row, from top to bottom.

Common Core: English Language Arts/ Literacy Common Core: Mathematics NYS Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core Head Start Approach to School Readiness
Strand(s) (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and/or Language Grade (K, 1, or 2) Domain(s) (Approaches to Learning, Physical Development and Health, Social and Emotional Development, Communication, Language, and Literacy, Cognition, Language, and Literacy) Framework (Parents/Families, Infants/Toddlers, and Preschoolers)
Grade(s) (K,1, and/or 2) Domain (ex. Operations and Algebraic Thinking) Skill Area(s) (ex. engagement, physical fitness, etc.) Program Foundations (ex. Continuous Engagement, nurturing environment, Approaches to Learning, etc.)
Anchor Standard(s) (ex. Key Ideas and Details) Cluster (ex.Understand Addition and understand subtraction) Benchmark that the students will progress towards meeting Area(s) of Development (
Specific standard(s) students will progress towards reaching through the play activity. Specific standard(s) students will progress towards reaching through the play activity. The benchmark indicators which will show that the child is progressing towards the benchmark Area/ Domain (s) (Logic and Reasoning, parent-child relationship, etc.)
Goal / Domain Element(s) (Children's well being and competence, Book Appreciation, etc.)



1. Look back to the discussion from Unit 2. Find the name of the person who's thread appears directly before yours (if you were the first to post, go to the last person to post.) Create a thread in this Unit's (Unit 3) discussion board with this person's name as the subject/ headline. In the post, give your peer an early childhood age group, and one of the four standards group to use.

2. Find the thread titled with your name. Add a post to this thread. Create or locate an effective play based activity to use with the given age group. Justify your use of this activity using the given standards criteria, and at least one other means of justification.

3. Comment on at least 2 other posts, and reply to all who comment on your post.


Hewes J. Voices from the field – Learning through play: A view from the field. In: Tremblay RE, Barr RG, Peters RDeV, Boivin M, eds. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online]. Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development; 2010:1-6. Accessed [May 1, 2015].
Hewes, J., Early Childhood Learning Knowledge Centre., & Canadian Council on Learning. (2006). Let the children play: Nature's answer to early learning. Montreal, Que: Early Childhood Learning Knowledge Centre.
New York State prekindergarten foundation for the common core. (2013). Albany, N.Y.: The New York State Education Dept.
Preparing America's students for success. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2015, from http://www.corestandards.org/
School Readiness. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2015, from http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/hs/sr


Play-learn.jpg Play Based Learning

PlayLearnGrow.jpg Unit 1: Why is Play Important?


Unit 2: Effective Play-Based Learning Activities


Chelsea Troeller