About Play Based Centers

If problem-solving, communication, collaboration, innovation, and creative thinking are to remain part of our legacy as a species, then play must be restored to its rightful place at the heart of childhood.  -Crisis in the Kindergarten, Why Children Need To Play in School, Alliance for Childhood

This site has been created to help K-2 educators gain new insight into how an underutilized resource, the play-instinct, can be harnessed to strengthen their students’ social, emotional, and academic skills.  While incorporating play and creating more joyful, balanced classrooms, daily Play Based Centers is also a flexible block of time to address the numerous challenges that teachers face. There are more than thirty centers that are options within the system.  However, PBC is highly flexible, and the selection of centers and the role of the teacher can look very different from classroom to classroom and day to day.  For example, teachers might choose to work with individuals or small groups- using mini push-ins or mini pull-outs for progress monitoring, completing assessments, or providing extra support, such as through RTI.  Or teachers might use the Ch. E. C. K.-in method for guided play. [delete this? It is explained later. . . (Ch- Challenge, E- Engage, C- make Connections, K- Keep listening)]

Play Based Centers consists of intentional, themed, permanent spaces within an early elementary classroom.  Although the materials change according to the teacher’s preferences, priorities, and learning standards, the centers themselves remain in the same location, with the same theme, accessed with the same routine–  minimizing teacher prep time and maximizing student independence. While students are highly engaged and intrinsically motivated during their play, teachers have the flexibility to address the most pressing concerns, create meaningful connections, and focus on Individual Student Goals (ISG).

PBC is a research-based system that works well in any early elementary classroom but is especially beneficial in settings with more challenging populations, such as students with limited language experiences, adverse childhood experiences, or any individuals requiring greater academic or behavioral supports.  A daily PBC block significantly alleviates the pressure most early elementary teachers face with mandatory assessments and rigorous academic benchmarks.  PBC also allows teachers time for and guidance on incorporating authentic behavioral practices, including early restorative justice opportunities.  Finally, PBC is a highly preferred activity and powerful leverage when used as part of classroom positive behavioral supports. 

Play Based Centers is a Ch.I.L.D. centered system:

Ch- embedded Choice for both students and teachers

I- Intentional and Independent activities

L- Learning academic, social and emotional skills through active play. 

D- Differentiated experiences and activities.