Supporting Young Children’s Learning in a Dramatic Play Environment

Janine Hostettler Scharer


Vygotsky and his followers believe that make- believe play is the leading activity in preschool, kindergarten, and the early primary grades. Play-based curricula are common in early childhood classrooms today, but what does this look like in practice? Does it mean that children get some time for free play in centres between blocks of direct instruction? What could learning in a play-learning environment look like? Prospective ECE teachers often show difficulty integrating play for learning. In their experiences, play is often something to do in between their guided instruction. In this paper I challenge those beliefs and show, based on an example, how learning and teaching are possible through play when the whole classroom is transformed into a museum. Teachers will not only be addressing curricular goals, but also encouraging imagination, creativity, social development, and many other learning goals at the same time. Based on Vygotsky’s theory on play, I present ways to enrich, support, and foster play while learning within a play-learning environment. 


early childhood education; dramatic play; curriculum; play-learning environment

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Copyright (c) 2017 Janine Hostettler Scharer

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