Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education-Instruction and Curriculum: Early Childhood Education (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

College of Education

First Advisor

Elizabeth Stolle

Academic Year



Kindergarten is looking very different these years because of the increase in requirements and standards. The push is affecting teachers and students. Teachers are having to use scripted lessons and focus on test preparation instead of teaching based on the students developmental needs. Students are being pushed and given less time to play and explore while they are in school. The lack of free play and the push academically, students are starting to show negative behavior and acting out while they are in class. This project focuses on the benefits of play and teaching social emotional learning (SEL) skills for students. SEL can be broken down into 5 different content areas, self awareness, social awareness, decision making, self management, and relationship skills. The author looked into early childhood theories to figure out the best practice to help young student learn and develop. The author found out that when students are given time to explore and interact independently and with peers, they are more successful in their learning. The author created a unit that contains 5 different totes based on the core concepts. Each tote is full of different resources to help students explore the different skills through student lead learning. The author created a unit that was fully prepared so it is easy to implement during the day for teachers.