What Can Teachers Do?
Preschool and kindergarten teachers can be very intentional in their work to
help children achieve and sustain higher levels of play. The process involves
recognition of the levels of play and knowledge of strategies that enhance its
depth and richness. I have seen skilled teachers who incorporate early learn-
ing standards and authentic assessment in children’s play experiences without
losing the joy and engagement that good quality play provides for children. It’s
a complex process that requires an artistry of its own!
This book analyzes that process and identifies the many actions that teach-
ers in preschools and kindergartens can take to make play all that it can be.
Many ideas and suggestions for facilitating children’s engagement in high-level
play are given throughout. These suggestions can be used with any of the fol-
lowing types of play: dramatic play, block play, play with sensory materials
(sand, water), and play with manipulatives. Each chapter takes a different part
of the facilitation process and looks at it in depth. Examples of play scenarios
are included with descriptions of teachers’ steps to enhance the play situation.
In chapter 1, the focus is on the importance of play and the key roles teach-
ers have in guiding children’s play so that it is mature and beneficial to the
children. In addition, three levels of play are identified: chaotic, simplistic, and
purposeful. Chapter 2 explores the ideas put forth by theorists that support the
need for play and show the role higher-level play has in enriching children’s
learning. The differences between chaotic, simplistic, and purposeful play will
be considered as well. Chapter 3 shares ways that teachers can plan for pur-
poseful play. Teachers will provide structure and set expectations to help the
play move far beyond chaotic or simplistic by carefully setting up their environ-
ments so children have interesting materials that stimulate their creativity and
imaginations. Chapter 4 focuses on the ways that teachers can help children
make choices so that their play experiences are positive and productive. In ad-
dition, suggestions for allowing enough time in the daily schedule for deep play
to develop are given.
Chapter 5 delves into how teachers interact with children to enhance their
play. It includes techniques on how to get play started, how to know when to
enter and exit play, how to coach children in play, and how to use well-timed
questioning. Chapter 6 focuses on the power of provocations, such as planning
for field trips and special visitors, incorporating books, providing new materi-
als, and considering groupings of children to stimulate and further deepen play