Lift Education, Design for Play in Early Childhood Education

This video is part of my final presentation for my senior thesis studio, an exploration in storytelling. As I was researching, an alarming fact stood out. Public education tries to stamp out make believe in the Kindergarten classroom. As a double major in Theatre, I have found lots of love in improv (I have studied both under Louis Wells and at UCB Training Center). I have experienced the benefits of Improv; quick problem solving, abstract connections over many subjects, quick reaction skills and social skills. There are many scholarly articles out on the benefits of Improv on an adult mind, I am sure you’ve seen a recap in the NY Times. And, to find out that the best story tellers in the world are told everyday to NOT make believe, I found absurd.

I strongly believed this is a problem and designed my senior thesis project around it. I designed Lift Education, a curriculum handbook and props to encourage dramatic play as an introduction to the language arts, a conduit for other subjects, and a social activity both encouraging friendship and provides an emotional release during an otherwise studious day.
I hope to present this at early childhood education conferences and applied Improv conferences alike. “Common Core” has come under a lot of scrutiny as of late, the main problem being it doesn’t leave teachers the time to allow the children the play that they deserve. Much evidence supports a more “play’ like approach to early childhood education is how children learn best, not in seats being lectured at. I hope this changes and I hope we start influencing young minds that make believe is not only an intelligent activity, but that it belongs in the classroom.

Some of these kids have gone home and taught the things I taught to them, to their family. They play these “games” with me and they have fun, but the connections they make are proudly abstract and should be celebrated. It is this VERY abstraction that will fuel innovation of the future. I am very proud of this, I really have poured my soul into it. I love this project.



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