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Play at the Center of the Curriculum

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  • Edition: 6th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-03-21
  • Publisher: Pearson
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The leading text in the field, Play at the Center of the Curriculum seamlessly combines the features of a text on play and development with the features of an early childhood curriculum text to present a comprehensive, cogent rationale for placing play at the center of a balanced curriculum. Ideal for those who want to engage children in a developmental zone where children and teachers are learning from and with each other, the authors put play at the center of a balanced curriculum that includes spontaneous, guided, and directed play as well as teacher planned instruction. They describe how knowledgeable teachers use a wide repertoire of strategies to orchestrate the flow from spontaneous play to guided play, to more subject oriented instruction, and back to play. This thoroughly updated Sixth Edition interweaves anecdotes of children’s play, theories of play and development, empirical evidence from research, and practical instructional strategies to give students a clear look at play and the curriculum.

Author Biography

Judith Van Hoorn, Patricia Nourot, Barbara Scales, and Jane Perry were doctoral students of Millie Almy, a pioneer in the field of children’s play, whose work inspires and informs their teaching, research, and writing. Looking at Children's Play: The Bridge between Theory and Practice, by Monighan Nourot, Scales, and Van Hoorn was co-authored with Millie Almy.


Dr. Judith Van Hoorn is Professor Emerita at the University of the Pacific and was Visiting Professor and Co-Director of the Children’s School at Mills College. She has worked with children and families in Head Start programs, elementary schools, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer, teaching English to middle school students. She is active member of NAEYC’s Interest Forum, Play, Policy, and Practice and the American Psychological Association where she served as a Representative on APA’s governing Council, sponsoring policies and actions to benefit children and families. She is a past president of APA’s Division of Peace Psychology and co-chairs the Peace and Ethnicity working group. She presents widely at national and international conferences. In addition to writing on children’s play, she has co-authored numerous publications in the area of peace education and peace psychology, including the book, Adolescent Development and Rapid Social Change: Perspectives from Eastern Europe and the recent chapter, In Harms Way? Or Are They?: War, Young children in the United States and Social Justice, co-authored with Diane Levin.  As an educator, writer, researcher, and advocate for children, she focuses on play and social justice issues that affect children’s lives. At play, Judy reads, hikes, spends time with friends and relatives, and, of course, plays with children, especially her grandchildren.



Dr. Patricia Nourot (1947-2006) earned a PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983 and joined the School of Education at Sonoma State University in 1988. She assumed leadership as Coordinator of the Early Childhood credential and MA programs in 1990 and continued in that role until her retirement in 2004.  She was a friend and role model to her students. Throughout her career she worked closely with school districts in Sonoma, Napa, and Solano Counties toward the goal of high quality education for preschool, primary, and elementary age children. A renowned scholar of early childhood education and children’s play, she gave many keynote addresses and published widely on topics such as the history of play, and the importance of socio-dramatic play. In 2008, the Play, Policy, and Practice Interest Forum of NAEYC established the Patricia Monighan Nourot Award to be given annually for leadership in play scholarship in honor of Pat’s lifetime of work on behalf of children’s play.



Dr. Barbara Scales, held appointments as Head teacher, research coordinator and administrator of the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center of the University of California for nearly 3 decades.  She received her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. While doing graduate studies at UC she worked as Thelma Harms’ graduate teaching assistant at the U.C. Berkeley  Child Study Center and was influenced by Harms’ work on environmental assessment. She has authored a number of books and articles based on her research at the Child Study Center on play and the social environment and other topics such as children's gender and cultural awareness, language and literacy, and the uses of the arts and drama in the classroom. Her recent work includes Creating A Classroom Of Inquiry: University Of California: Berkeley’s Harold E. Jones Child Study Center, written with Jane Perry and Rebecca Tracy. She has presented at numerous conferences of the NAEYC and The Society for the Study of Play (TASP). She most recently presented with these colleagues at a World Forum Foundation Conference a symposium entitled:  Design that Supports a Social Ecology of Children’s Learning:( The Harold E. Jones Child Study Center. When not engaged in these professional pursuits she has found joy and reward in art making throughout her life and is an accomplished painter and printmaker. 


Dr. Keith R. Alward, holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis on the development of human intelligence.  Prior to graduation from the University of California at Berkeley, he was for ten years a member of the Far West Regional Laboratory for Educational Research and Development.  He was instrumental in the development of a national early childhood educational program.  He is the producer of The Growing Mind, a series of films demonstrating stages in children’s development of reasoning.  Dr. Alward regularly presents at conferences, as well as writing and publishing on theoretical and practical issues in intellectual development and reasoning. In addition to this book on play, his most recent publication is an article entitled, The Conservation of Meaning: Piaget’s Social Theory Revisited. Dr. Alward finds pleasure in music, particularly classical opera as well as fine art.  He has painted since childhood and currently enjoys participating in watercolor painting with a group of like-minded friends.



Dr. Jane P. Perry is an ethnographer and the former research coordinator and teacher at the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center of the University of California at Berkeley. Her classroom perspective comes variously from being a student aid, to taking a cut in pay from her graduate teaching assistantship to continue her research of children and teachers from inside the classroom.  She uses a storytelling format to write about what it means to be children and teachers out on the playground and what it means to learn in a play-based classroom.  She is the author of Outdoor Play: Teaching Strategies with Young Children (Teachers College Press), “ ‘Sometimes I Pounce on Twigs Because I’m a Meat Eater’: Supporting Physically Active Play and Outdoor Learning” ( American Journal of Play), "Children's experience of security and mastery on the playground" in A Place For Play (Wayne State University Press), "Making Sense of Outdoor Pretend Play" in Spotlight on Young Children and Play (NAEYC), and  “Creating a Classroom of Inquiry at the University of California at Berkeley: The Harold E. Jones Child Study Center,” with colleagues Barbara Scales and Rebecca Tracy (Early Education and Development).  She presents at the national, state, and local level to diverse audiences on topics such as the role of the teacher in peer play and how to use the peer culture to plan, observe, facilitate inquiry, and match outdoor play to assessment goals, as well as advocating through the media. Through a collage of participant observations, ambient audio recordings, dreams, and text, she also writes short stories and produces acoustic poetry.


Dr. Sandra Waite-Stupiansky is Professor of Early Childhood and Reading at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.  She has a Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington.  Her areas of research include recess in elementary schools, play, and moral development.  She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in early childhood education, child development, and math/science education.  She has been the managing editor of Play, Policy, and Practice Connections, an online publication of the Play, Policy, and Practice Interest Forum of the National Association for the Education of Young Children since 1995.  Recently, she co-edited Play: A Polyphony of Research, Theories, and Issues, Play & Culture Studies, Volume 12 and Learning Across the Early Childhood Curriculum, Advances in Early Education and Day Care, Volume 17 with Lynn Cohen.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Looking at Play Through Teachers' Eyes

Chapter 2 Play and Development: Theory

Chapter 3 Play as the Cornerstone of Development: The Literature

Chapter 4 Orchestrating Children's Play: Setting the Stage

Chapter 5 Orchestrating Play: Interactions With Children

Chapter 6 Play as a Tool for Assessment

Chapter 7 Mathematics in the Play- Centered Curriculum

Chapter 8 Language, Literacy, and Play

Chapter 9 Science in the Play-Centered Curriculum

Chapter 10 The Arts in the Play-Centered Curriculum

Chapter 11 Play and Socialization

Chapter 12 Outdoor Play

Chapter 13 Toys and Technology as Tools for Play

Chapter 14 Conclusion: Integrating Play, Development, and Practice


Name Index

Subject Index 

Supplemental Materials

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