For my Independent Study project, I have focused on the alternative early childhood education model of the Waldorf School and the importance of dramatic play and how it fits into the curriculum. This study explores the social nature of childhood play and more specifically, how children's experiences and development within dramatic play differ in an outdoor environment versus an indoor environment. Two schools were chosen for the study: Mother Earth Kindergarten, part of the Shining Star Waldorf School, in Portland, Oregon and Spring Garden Waldorf School in Copley, Ohio. I observed preschool and kindergarten aged children during free play while using a criteria developed by Sara Smilansky (1968), with six elements that determine and evaluate the level of dramatic (symbolic) play among children. There were subtle differences between indoor and outdoor play regarding make-believe play with objects and verbalization among the children, as there was less of a focus on objects and toys during outdoor play. In both the indoor and outdoor environments, there was a strong amount of social interaction and communication between the children, as well as their teachers. The environments at the Waldorf schools foster dramatic play and have a significant role in how children develop, socially, mentally, physically and emotionally. Therefore, this suggests that our society needs to get more children outside, enjoying unstructured play and better understanding the world around them.


Sociology and Anthropology


Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Methods | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2009 Jane Bartha