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Choice Time: How to Deepen Learning Through Inquiry and Play, PreK-2

Choice Time: How to Deepen Learning Through Inquiry and Play, PreK-2

by Renee Dinnerstein, Kathy Collins


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Choice Time: How to Deepen Learning Through Inquiry and Play, PreK-2

"In her inspirational, well-researched book, Renee describes the kinds of learning opportunities that all parents want for their own children. Her accessible writing style makes it easy to envision the environment, teaching, and community she describes with such clarity you'll want to get started on her ideas tomorrow." -Jennifer Serravallo

"How refreshing it is in a test-driven climate to read a book stressing the nurturing of imagination and empathy that comes from inquiry, play and children making choices." -Deborah Meier

"The bottom line is when children are at play, they're not just playing—they're learning machines, and play is the engine that drives them." -Renee Dinnerstein

How do you define play and choice time in early childhood classrooms? According to Renee Dinnerstein,"During choice time, children choose to play in a variety of centers that have been carefully designed and equipped to scaffold children's natural instinct for play."

In Choice Time, Renee gives you everything you need to set up choice-time centers that promote inquiry-based, guided play in your classroom. Renee summarizes the research, describing the different kinds of play and why they are important. Then she dives into the nitty gritty, providing:

  • blueprints for six proven choice-time centers, with variations
  • a guide to arranging your classroom space to maximize play's value and support the child's growing independence
  • scheduling suggestions for different grade levels
  • ideas to connect centers to the curriculum, giving children greater agency in designing and planning centers.

Renee reveals what can happen when you embrace a culture of inquiry, providing opportunities for children to be explorative and creative in their thinking. She believes that, "A child's engagement is the most powerful asset we have for teaching and learning." Give your students choice time, and watch them engage in joyful, important, playful, age-appropriate work that will empower them to become lifelong learners.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780325077659
Publisher: Heinemann
Publication date: 08/25/2016
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 216,015
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Renee Dinnerstein (@RDinnerstein) has almost 50 years experience as an early childhood educator, teaching in both Italy and in the United States. She is a past member of the Teachers' College Reading and Writing Project Early Childhood Reading ‘think tank', and has worked as an Early Childhood Staff Developer in the New York City Department of Education, where she helped write the New York City Pre Kindergarten Standards. Visit her online at

Table of Contents

Now to Use this Book vi

Foreword Kathy Collins ix

Chapter 1 Why Choice Time and Play Are Important 1

Chapter 2 The Classroom Speaks 21

Chapter 3 A Classroom Where Centers Thrive 36

Chapter 4 Block Center 50

Chapter 5 Science Center 66

Chapter 6 Reading Nook 85

Chapter 7 Drastic Play Center 101

Chapter 8 Math Center 117

Chapter 9 Art Center 136

Conclusion 151

Appendix A Planning Tool for Centers 153

Appendix B Observation and Reflection Form for Centers 154

Acknowledgments 155

Works Cited 160

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