Download Full Text (348 KB)


Play as an academic field comprises multiple disciplines, definitions, and objectives and acknowledges a link between play and learning. Historically and in contemporary societies, play has been used as a teaching methodology; this occurs in formal classroom pedagogy as well as outside the classroom as part of informal and improvisational curriculum. Because play generally includes a component of pleasure, as a methodology it compels entry into learning in a way other practices do not. Yet this playful learning can be problematic, depending on outcomes and structures that define the play/learning experience through narrative and power dynamics. Scholars may analyze various aspects of curricular play, including but not limited to narratives provided, students’ lived experiences within those narratives, actions allowable, objectives and advancement, and sources developing the narratives.

Publication Date



Oxford University Press


play, games, improvisation, learningactivities


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology


This chapter was originally published in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education in 2021.


Oxford University Press

Play as Curriculum



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.