Implementing Play in the Classroom


Implementing Play in the Classroom   


Megan Philbee & Julia Corsini 



 Why implement play in the classroom?  

The psychologist Lev Vygotsky said that when there is play in the classroom new developmental accomplishments become apparent earlier than when students participate in other activities.   


  •  To see great student development and developmental accomplishments teachers should have play in their classrooms.

  •   Even though implementing play can be time consuming it has been shown to be beneficial for students.

  • Play can mature as a child mature so in older grades it is still possible to implement play in your classroom. You can do so by substituing pysical objects with gestures or words to promote imagination in your students. 


How students benefit from play in the classroom

  • Skill development
  • Social development
  • Imagination and creativity  
  • Problem solving 
  • Develop relationships 
  • Lets them think symbolically











 Teachers role in supporting play

 Teachers should have their classroom set up in a way that promotes play, such as:
  • a large play area
  • providing simulating materials 
  • keeping materials organized 
  • allowing students freedom to explore 

Teachers need to provide opportunities to play and guide their students during play activities throughout the school day. Some ways to do this are:

  • allowing large blocks of time for children to think and execute their ideas during imaginative play 
  • having free choice play 
  • support and ask questions during play to get students thinking on a deeper level 
  • differentiate play activities 
  • integrate subjects students are learning with play to make them more engaging and effective 

Best practices

Although standardized testing has recently become one of the main focuses in the classroom there are still many ways to incorporate and implement play in daily routines. Some of the best ways to implement play in the classroom are:

  • Centers: having centers around the room that include materials such as a kitchen set, blocks or an area to play house allows children to use their imagination to contribute positively to their development.
  • Free choice: having a duration of time set aside during the day for students to choose an activity or materials such as the ones in centers like the blocks to play with. Free choice does not have to occur every day but implementing this practice a few times a week allows children to freely explore their chosen materials and use their developed skills to further their development and knowledge. 
  • Learning games: learning games are great for older grades because they can still be playful but are more interactive and engaging than a worksheet or verbal explanation so children gain more knowledge and developmental skills. Having hands on games and activities for students in all elementary grades shows developmental accomplishments earlier than when they are participating in other activities. 



For an example of how children like to and benefit from play in the classroom view the video and websites below to see how play in implemented in other classrooms.

This video shows children's perspecitives on play. It includes several questions about playing in the classroom that are answered by children, so it can help others see what kinds of things to include in their classrooms to make play successful.

This link includes more information about the benefits of play as well as types of play that occur within children. It also gives information on how parents can play with their children.

This website gives information such as how play helps with children's cognitive development, the different places children can play and gives more insight about what the teacher's role in play is.




"Importance of Play in Early Childhood Education." Importance of Play in Early Childhood Education. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

 "Research in Early Childhood Development." Public Health Reports (1896-1970)84.8 (1969): 672. Web. 

 "Self-Regulation." SpringerReference (2011): n. pag. Web.