Play Based Curriculum

The Child Development Laboratories uses the MSU Children’s Curriculum which was developed here at Michigan State University, over a period of years, by teachers and faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. It has achieved national recognition.

The curriculum is divided into six areas of development (domains), which are aesthetic, affective, cognition, physical, social and language/communication.

The MSU Child Development Laboratories is a play based program. Our belief is that play is the way children learn; constructing their knowledge, trying different roles, experimenting with cause and effect, making meaning.  In support of a play based program, each week, teachers plan a variety of activities and experiences to support learning in all six domains. Although we realize that no one facet of development can be isolated from the rest, we believe that purposeful planning for each domain results in a more comprehensive approach to instruction. Moreover, we can achieve consistency in application from classroom to classroom that contributes to the positive growth of children as they move through the program. Simultaneously, classroom individuality is maintained because each teacher brings his/her own special emphasis and understanding of development to its implementation. Thus, while we all share common goals, application of the curriculum is personalized and tailored to meet the needs of individual classes and children. Looked at individually, these six domains represent major facets of child development. Construction and pretend play are the processes by which these facets are integrated. Taken together, the entire array represents the "whole" child. 

Learning through Play: 

Ten Things Every Parent Should Know About Play


NAEYC Position Statement: Key Messages on Developmentally Appropriate Practice 

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NAEYC, Peter Pizzolongo and Kyle Snow have a conversation about the importance of play