Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Martin Ruck

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Methods | Elementary Education | Elementary Education and Teaching | Junior High, Intermediate, Middle School Education and Teaching | Other Education | Secondary Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


Play-Based Pedagogy, Teaching Methods, Play-Based Learning, Middle School Students, Social Emotional Learning


This white paper is framed by an understanding of the proposed influence play has on the process of supporting children’s developmental needs while simultaneously strengthening their ability to receive and recall academic content. The white paper is driven by a self-motivated desire to reimagine the ways in which teachers deliver and review content at the upper elementary and lower middle school level. By upper elementary, I am referring to the 4th and 5th grade classroom. By lower middle school, I am referring to the 6th grade classroom.

The past decade of research regarding play-based pedagogy and play-based learning has found that PBP and PBL approaches to education deserve a thorough evaluation from the education reform community. Most of the PBP research praises this curricular approach in the preschool and early elementary classroom;, however,; it is my hope that further research paves the way for courageous curriculum shifts in the upper elementary and lower middle school classroom. By defining play-based pedagogy and play-based learning and introducing readers to a specific example that demonstrates how to use one form of PBL in the classroom, I argue that PBL creates space for innovative approaches to teaching and learning that will positively impact academic outcomes and create joyful learning communities that allow students to actively participate in the learning process.

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