Mature Play Centers

Mature Play Centers

Scaffolding Play: What Children Learn Through Play

  • Symbolic thinking
  • Self-regulation
  • Emotional thinking and thoughtful emotions
  • Oral language
  • Beginnings of literacy

By scaffolding make-believe play and making sure it DOES exist in its most mature form, we can positively impact the development of self-regulation

Scaffolding Mature Play

  • Mature Play does not happen naturally
  • Does not occur automatically as children get older
  • Children must learn how to play

Teachers Take on Many Roles

  • Modeling roles and relationships between roles
  • Teacher provides language support during play time
  • Assists shy children to enter play roles
  • Many need to assist with conflict resolution
  • Scaffolds children’s literacy development (may model writing, etc.)

What the Research Says

  • When teachers intervene effectively, the quality of children’s play improves
  • Longer more complex episodes
  • More language
  • More literacy-related activity
  • More pro-social behavior

Berk&Winsler, (1995); Bredkamp (2004); Dickinson & Tabors (2001); Enz & Chistie (1993, 1994); Roakos & Neuman (1993)

Teacher Play Styles

  • Teachers get involved in play in a number of ways, ranging from no involvement to directing children’s every action.

The most effective strategies are in the middle of this continuum when teacher play facilitative roles.


Minimal Involvement
Facilitative Roles Maximum Involvment
Uninvolved Onlooker/ Observer
Stage Manager
Co-Player Play Leader

1-1 Interactions During Play: Scaffolding Role Speech

  • Teachers can model for children

               -Leading step by step, through the mechanics of pretending

               -A teacher might coach a child to feed a baby doll:

                “I’m pretending my baby is crying. Is yours? What should we say?”

  • Books can be placed in centers that correspond to roles

 -when children finish play planning early, teachers can prompt   children to read the books  to plan their role until other children   arrive in the center to begin play

Mediators to Refer to When Play Planning and Engaged in Mature Play

  • Play Plan
  • Alphabet chart
  • Play planning liner mediator
  • “First” List
  • Center role chart
  • Role clips
  • Role Sheets
  • Brain storming webs
  • Role speech

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