Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education




Curriculum and Instruction with a K-12 Reading Endorsement

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Kelly Sadlovsky

Second Reader

Professor Elisabeth Amirahmadi


developmentally appropriate practice, play, continuum of play, play-based learning, primary grades, state standards



Although data supports the benefits of play and play-based learning as instructional tools for children birth to age eight, many teachers of children in grades kindergarten-second grade succumb to a narrow selection of tools chosen for academic teaching and learning. Lack of common play definitions, the pressure of accountability standards, high stakes testing, lack of training in play theory, and conflicted feelings about how to implement play-based learning all contribute to this. The research focus question for this paper was: How can play-based learning in the primary grades be used to support the teaching of state standards? This document, using a variety of journal materials and a report, sought to address the debate about what play is and outline the validity of play and play-based learning as useful, developmentally appropriate tools for standards-based instruction in the primary grades. It also addressed challenges to delivering play-based learning and supports needed for effective implementation of play-based learning.