Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Paul Sproll

Second Advisor

Nancy Friese

Third Advisor

Khipra Nicols


This model making based research project looks at how various materials—produce, board games, toys and curriculums—create opportunities for learning through play. Play creates intimate relationships that are generated between the spaces we inhabit and the objects and people that surround us, focusing on cognitive responses. This paper aims to further awareness of one’s perception of play and how all forms of play create meaningful relationships and improve cognitive development, material awareness and critical thinking skills. Play provides students with opportunities to learn and allow unlimited variations on the learning environment.

This research explores various forms of play through farming, interviewing, photographing, researching, making and creating a teaching practice around play. It asks: How do others deine play? How does play accelerate cognitive development? What materials, objects and practices facilitate play? How might the creation of games and toys better our understanding of play? How is “play “a vital role within education? This paper addresses these questions through multiple studies (written journal, photographic journal and model testing) to explore experiences and definitions of play. Finally, this paper posits a curriculum to enable students to explore their personal perceptions of play and understand the importance of play. Developing multiple board games and toys enabled the construction of user studies to implement feedback for improved educational impact. This research pushes boundaries in arts education, engaging students in meaningful connections with others and the materials they interact with—a practice that will enhance any creative classroom.

Included in

Art Education Commons



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