Play Forms the Academic Foundation

Kendall Jones and Audrey Soriano, Kindergarten South
“Play is work!” is an important mantra in kindergarten at Live Oak. Our youngest students dive into meaningful constructivist play from their very first day of school. Through meaningful and structured play experiences, kids are learning and acquiring foundational skills needed to prepare them for more challenging academic work, school activities, and life experiences.
During play, children are creating, imagining, problem-solving, risk-taking, collaborating, and developing greater resilience as challenges arise and play evolves. Making time in school for play is recommended by the American Association of Pediatricians who agree that “the lifelong success of children is based on their ability to be creative and to apply the lessons learned from playing” (The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children).
At Live Oak, we are fortunate to have access to AnjiPlay. “The practice of AnjiPlay is centered on five interconnected principles: love, risk, joy, engagement, and reflection. This includes a fundamental belief in the ability of the child, and a commitment to the right of every child to experience extended periods of self-directed, uninterrupted, and unguided play (2023 Anji Education, Inc.).” At its core, AnjiPlay is a constructivist practice because children are constructing knowledge and building their understanding through meaningful real-world experiences. 

AnjiPlay materials are minimally structured and open-ended and include highly-designed and found objects. The size and variety of these materials invite children to engage in large and small scale construction, design, combination, revision, imagination, and self-expression. Anji materials include blocks, planks, ladders, barrels, mats, climbing cubes, and storage systems, allowing and inviting an endless amount of access points for every type of student. Anji is the ultimate differentiated play experience and most importantly, kindergartners love it!

AnjiPlay occurs during recess times in a large outdoor courtyard easily accessible and visible from a kindergarten classroom. Students drive the experience by taking out, engaging with, and cleaning up all materials independently. Teachers take an observer role and only get involved as a facilitator if needed. After some initial training, the children are trusted to manage their own conflicts and problem solve using their words.

Equally important to AnjiPlay is the reflective practice that follows. When AnjiPlay time concludes, students engage in group reflection. They share their process and engagement with the materials, note challenges that came up, and remember joyful moments from each session. Reflection helps the children think about, interpret, and understand their experiences. Teachers also learn more about the students as they listen to and guide reflection, gaining understanding of student ideas and growth. AnjiPlay adds a deeper layer of engaging and meaningful play to the Live Oak kindergarten experience and we are looking forward to another exciting year of learning and growing together!

Learn more about Live Oak's teaching and learning philosophy and how we strive to develop creative thinkers and problem-solvers.


Live Oak School welcomes and admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, citizenship status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and faith to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities of Live Oak School. Live Oak School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, citizenship status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and faith in administration of its educational policies and programs, admissions policies, Adjusted Tuition program, and athletic and other school-administered programs.