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Designing a Play-Based Kindergarten Classroom

Author: 
Sierra Schlesinger

Abstract:

Vibrant, constructive, interactive, social and solo play is vital to the healthy development of the kindergarten-aged child. Young children learn naturally and deeply through playful, inquisitive engagement with the world around them. They learn by touching, by moving, by trying. The ideal learning environment for the Kindergartners (ages four, five, six, and even seven), is one that caters to their learning needs. Such an environment will provide simple play tools in a warm, loving, and calm space to allow the children to self-direct their interactions and their learning. Waldorf Kindergarten play spaces allow for this by being aesthetically appealing, emotionally soothing, and creative play-inspiring environments. The Waldorf Kindergarten cultivates a specific aesthetic that is orderly, minimal, and calming; it stocks specific types of play tools made from organic materials such as wood, stone, and hand-dyed cloth. The creation and maintenance of such an important learning environment is a daunting task, especially for a new teacher in a California public charter school. In this paper I assessed the literature on the importance of play for child development and for learning. I turned to the community of Waldorf Kindergartens to investigate how an effective play space can be established, and I used my own Kindergarten classroom for my personal research; I chronicled the work of setting up the classroom, maintaining the play tools, and observing the play on a private blog titled, “A Place for Play.”