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Play and Meaning in Early Childhood Education.

D. P. Fromberg. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2002. 196 pp. $35.00. Fromberg's book presents a thoughtful approach to play in early education. She frames the book within the context of political pressures that focus on a narrow "transmission of facts" curriculum. Fromberg notes how this model continues to fail children, whereas play helps young children develop meaning.

The chapters in section one consider the need for a dynamic theory of play and meaning, develop a multifaceted definition of play as one condition of learning, and describe how children play from infancy through the primary grades. This section discusses research studies about play as integrated learning that influences children's social, intellectual, and language development, as well as their imagination and creativity. It also summarizes the implications of brain research for nurturing the growth of meaning in early education.

Section two discusses three nonlinear, dynamic theories that function like play: script theory, chaos and complexity theory, and theory of mind. The author compares these theories, highlighting the power of nonlinear processes, and uses them to build a nonlinear model of teaching practice.

In section three, Fromberg presents practical implementations of a dynamic-themes curriculum to support teachers in the creation of play-oriented, meaning-centered, child-centered learning. Her fourth section provides a look at the power of play, cultural contexts, controversial issues, ways to advocate for children's play, and the future of children's play. The appendix has excellent examples of play themes and dynamic themes experiences.

This book is written for educators, students of curriculum, and policymakers. It provides a well-constructed paradigm shift for curriculum designers and offers practical ideas and guidance for developing a play-based curriculum. Fromberg skillfully moves readers away from a linear to a nonlinear approach to early education. She reveals her strong advocacy for children's play through an inspiring, intellectual, and practical book. This book is a must-read for early childhood professionals. Reviewed by Sandra J. Stone, Professor, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff
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Author:Stone, Sandra J.
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 2003
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