Play Based Learning

We use the Creative Curriculum which is centered around play based learning. 
Learning through play is how children begin to make sense of the world around them and understand how things work.  Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their gross motor skills, fine motor skills, cognitive skills, imagination, and emotional skills.  To create a play-based environment for children, the classroom is set up in different interest centers, including a block area, dramatic play area, science center and library.  Children choose which centers they want to play in while actively engaging and exploring different materials. The teacher encourages children learning through interactions to foster their learning to a higher level.

Block Play

Block play, especially hardwood unit blocks, are standard equipment in an early childhood classroom.  Wooden blocks naturally appeal to young children because they feel good to the touch, are symmetrical, and invite open-ended explorations.  Children construct, create, and represent their experiences with blocks.  Blocks allow children a chance to explore the wonders and scientific and mathematical thinking.

    •  As children experience the world around them, they form mental pictures of what they see.  Playing with blocks gives them an opportunity to recreate these pictures in concrete forms. 
    • In the block area, children negotiate for materials they want to use, care for materials, and follow rules for safe building.
      • Children are very willing to talk about their constructions when adults ask questions and show genuine interest.  They increase their vocabulary when adults give them new words to describe what they are doing. 
      • Children develop small muscles and improve eye-hand coordination

        Toys & Games

        Toys and Games include manipulative, puzzles, collectibles, matching games, and games with rules that children can play at a table, on the floor, or atop of divided shelf.  These materials offer children a quiet activity that they can do alone, with a friend, with a teacher or parent volunteer, or with small group.

        • Children learn to cooperate with one another by sharing and taking turns as they play a game or build an intricate design.  They develop confidence when they complete a task successfully using self-correcting toys such as puzzles, sorting boards, and stacking rings.
        • While using beads, pegboards, puzzles, dominoes, and collectibles, children develop reading skills such as left-to-right progression, visual discrimination, and matching similar objects.
        • When children string beads, construct with interlocking cubes, and place pegs in a pegboard, they are practicing eye-hand coordination and refining small muscle skills.
        • Toys and games expand emerging math skills such as counting, seriation, matching, pattering, and classification.
        • When children string beads, construct with interlocking cubes, and place pegs in a pegboard, they are practicing eye-hand coordination and refining small muscle skills.


        Library develops the motivation and skills necessary to read and write.  As they hear stories read aloud every day, look through books on their own, listen to story tapes, retell familiar stories, and make up their own stories, they also have many opportunities to grow in all areas of development.
        • From books, children learn about people that are like them and who are different.  They feel comforted learning that others have had experiences or fears similar to their own and managed them. 
        • When children hear stories, they learn new words and their meaning, and their comprehension grows.  They learn how to follow the flow of print on a page, left to right and top to bottom.


        • Books help children gain a better understanding of the world around them.  They learn to make predictions and think about cause and effect.  When they hear a story, children make connections between the story and things they already know.

        • Children use their eye muscles as they follow the pictures and words in a book.

          Discovery Area

          Discovery Area is a place to spark curiosity and wonder using new and interesting materials.  In the discovery area, children use their senses to touch, feel, taste, smell, and see.  As the teacher poses questions or wonders aloud, children respond by using their thinking skills to investigate and explore.

          • Children learn to work together as they explore, make discoveries, and solve problems.  They take care of living things such as classroom pets and plants and learn classroom rules for using materials safely and responsibly.
          • Children organize their thoughts by classifying, comparing, measuring, counting, and graphing objects.  They represent their findings in drawing, writing, and by creating models.
          • Children develop dexterity and eye-hand coordination as they explore and investigate in the discovery area
          • When children make discoveries, they are eager to share their excitement with others.  They want to talk about their investigations, ask questions, and share experiences.  They use words to describe how things look, feel, taste, smell, and sound.


          Art area is a place filled with materials that children can enjoy on a purely sensory level.  Here children can create and represent their ideas in a visual form.  Sometimes they simply explore the materials and enjoy the process.  At other times they create designs or make something that represents a real object, place, or living thing.  Creative art is another language children use to express what they know and what they feel.

          • Art is a natural vehicle for children to express their feelings.  Children reflect their thoughts and emotions through their choices of color, texture, and media. 
          • Children draw, paint, and sculpt what they know.  As they translate their ideas and feelings into art, they use thinking skills to plan, organize, select media, and represent their impressions.
            • Making lines and shapes with crayons is an activity that helps children develop the fine motor control they need for writing.

            • Children often talk about what they are doing and respond to questions about their creations as they engage in art.  Teachers can write down what children say about their artwork as a permanent record of the experience.

              Sand & Water Play

              • When children play with sand and water they often express their thoughts and feelings.
              • Sand and water are natural companions in scientific exploration and engage children in making careful observations in classification, comparison, measurement, and problem-solving activities.
              • When children string beads, construct with interlocking cubes, and place pegs in a pegboard, they are practicing eye-hand coordination and refining small muscle skills.
              • Children develop and refine their listening skills as they notice changes in tempo or pitch of music and adapt their dancing or clapping accordingly.

              Outdoor Play

              Outdoor Play is essential for children’s health and well being.  The sense of peace and pleasure children experience when they take in fresh air, feel the warmth of the sun on the faces and watch a butterfly land gently on a flower is immeasurable.  The time spent outdoors every day is just as important to their learning as the time they spend in the classroom.

              • Social skills grow as children share equipment, work together to build a structure, and follow safety rules. 
              • Children develop their gross motor skills as they engage in outdoor play.  Outdoor play allows children to take risks and try out new skills.
                  • Being outdoors is a natural laboratory for scientific exploration as children observe and explore nature firsthand. 
                  • Children expand their vocabularies when they learn the names of insects and plants while using words to describe the characteristics of each.

                  Music & Movement

                  • During music and movement children use their bodies to express different kinds of emotions.


                  • Through movement activities, children can improve large muscle skills, balance, and coordination.
                  • Children solve problems while engaged in music and movement activities.  They use logic and reasoning to figure out how to make a scarf fly like the wind or which instrument can be used to make a sound like thunder.
                  • Children develop and refine their listening skills as they notice changes in tempo or pitch of music and adapt their dancing or clapping accordingly.