Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Elinor Katz, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Susan Korach

Third Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher


Age of accountability, Educational policy, Kindergarten, Play


Kindergarten has been a part of the educational landscape of the United States since 1856, when the first kindergarten opened in Watertown, Wisconsin. If we fast-forward more than a century and a half to the present, it is clear that the landscape composition of the garden-ideologically, culturally, socially, and politically for children's play has drastically changed.

The purpose of this study, (De)Composing a Garden for Children's Play, is to examine kindergartners' play set against changing school polices and practices of recent years in one Colorado school district. Four research questions guided this inquiry:

1. What does kindergarten look like in this school district?

2. What is the current state of play in the kindergarten classroom?

3. Are teachers establishing practices responsive to the cognitive, social and emotional well-being of kindergartners, while at the same time adhering to the requirements of the district and/or state and federal government?

4. How do contemporary kindergartners themselves reflect upon or view the kinds (amounts) of play which they engage in within the school day?

Elliot Eisner's model of Educational Connoisseurship and Criticism was the qualitative method utilized throughout this study. Data was collected over seven months during the 2008-09 academic year.

Fredrich Froebel's ideal, of kindergarten as a garden for children's play, has changed over time due to myriad reasons. One is the entire transfer of kindergarten from a private entity to the K-12 public education arena since World War II.

Another change in kindergarten education can be traced to changes in educational policy in the "age of accountability." As a result, more curriculum is presented to students at a younger age. The urge to "get it covered" was felt by each of the teachers in this study, in that they all alluded to the pressures of curricular coverage.

It is little surprise that more time was dedicated to "work" and less time was devoted to free "play." Further research possibilities include: exploration of preschool settings in the age of accountability as well as a closer look into pre-service and in-service education on the value of play for educators.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Debra Jean Deverell


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

290 p.


Early childhood education, Curriculum development, Elementary education