Reflections on Play: A Resource Guide

Topic: Play, STEM

NIEER is concluding a two-week blog forum on the importance of play in early childhood education. As we stated in our kick-off postboy playing with blocks 2

“The early childhood field has a history of conflict over means and goals that periodically erupts into public debates about the role of play versus academics and construction versus instruction. Concerns about whether preschool and kindergarten have become too stressful and regimented are met head on with concerns that they are academically weak and fail to cognitively challenge children. These conflicts have been intensified by increased demands for assessment and Common Core State Standards driving curriculum in the early grades.” 

In the last two weeks, we’ve considered play from a number of different perspectives from experts in the field, looking both at what the research says about play’s importance in the classroom, and at how play-based learning can be used on the ground. These posts focus on key issues in the field and serve as valuable resources as parents, teachers, and policymakers strive to ensure play has its place in pre-K:

What does play looking like in an early childhood setting? How can meaningful learning be fostered without forcing out room for creativity, imagination, and fun?

In addition to the posts we’ve featured, NIEER has compiled a list of resources–a recommended reading list–to help keep the conversation going:

Are there others you think provide a great perspective on the importance of play? Please share links and recommendations in the comments!

Thanks for joining us in this important discussion.



  1. Appreciating the time and effort you put into your website and detailed information you
    offer. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that
    isn’t the same old rehashed material. Fantastic read!

    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  2. Thank you for sharing this important resource with the ECE Community. I think many will find it helpful that you consolidated these links in one place for reference.

    I do know that one of my students is in the early stages of considering conducting research on the topic of preschool play. I think she will be very excited to see this important collection of resources.



    Donald J. Yarosz, Ed.D.

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  4. Thank you NIEER for generating healthy discussion on the importance of PLAY. In Tony Wagner’s book, “Creating Innovators: Play, Passion and Purpose, he shares some interesting research on how critically important play is in developing the future workforce. In interviewing 21st century entrepreneurs, all share common elements of opportunities for open ended play (Its not a box, its a…..), the importance of cross-discipline projects, and in trial and error. All of these are skills developed through play. One wonders whether the limitations are in the researchers ability to capture learning through creative outlets?? THanks for keeping the dialogue going.

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