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Love, Risk, Joy, Engagement, Reflection


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Love, Risk, Joy, Engagement, Reflection


Anji Play is the internationally-recognized philosophy and approach to early learning developed and tested over the past 16 years by educator Cheng Xueqin. Today, Anji Play is the curriculum of the 130 public kindergartens in Anji County, China serving more than 14,000 children from ages 3 to 6. Through sophisticated practices, site-specific environments, unique materials and integrated technology the Anji Play ecology of learning is quickly establishing itself as a new global standard for early childhood education and redefining understandings of learning, cognitive development and design. Returning the Right of Self-determined Play to children and communities in an environment defined by Love, Risk, Joy, Engagement, Reflection is the guiding principle of Anji Play.

In today’s fast-changing world, nothing is more important than the ability to think and act creatively. I see Anji Play as an international leader in preparing today’s children for life in tomorrow’s society.
— Dr. Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research, MIT

 

 

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True Play


A movement of children, teachers, families and communities

True Play


A movement of children, teachers, families and communities


In the kindergartens of Anji, children lead their own play and self-expression. They chose what, where and with whom to play. Self-determination in play, ownership of discovery and learning in play and the time and freedom to express complex intentions in play means that Anji Play is True Play.

Teachers, parents and grandparents support the growth and reflection that takes place in the classroom and bring their inter-generational and inter-cultural experiences of play to the materials and environments both in school and in the community at large.

Anji Play is equitable and universal. Every child in Anji County has access to Anji Play kindergartens. 99.5% of children 3-6 years old in Anji County attend Anji Play schools regardless of their legal status or financial means.

Anji Play pilot programs at community college lab schools, private not-for-profit sites and public library and community programs in the United States and globally, are focused on bringing the joys of True Play to children and communities who have the most constraints placed on their access to play and creating a global community of practice.


Environments

The classroom should be the outdoors in miniature. The outdoors should be the classroom magnified.
— Ms. Cheng Xueqin

Minimally-structured, open-ended environments allow children to explore, imagine and create. In Anji Play, these environments are designed to maximize opportunities for imaginition, inquiry and contact with natural phenomena and elements. Water, sand, mud, trees, bamboo, ditches, tunnels and hills are among the environmental features that engage children in endless exploration, discovery, risk-taking, problem solving and knowledge creation. The principles of the Anji Play approach are manifest in indoor, outdoor and liminal environments. In every instance the environment allows for children to organize and manage their own materials; move freely; exert the greatest range of mastery over their environment; pursue engaged inquiry; describe, express and document their experiences and observations and see these expressions and descriptions presented in a way that is accessible and prominent in the classroom and school.


Materials

Minimally-structured, open-ended materials of all sizes, drawn from life in Anji Play programs include both highly designed and found objects whose size and variety invite children to engage in large-scale construction, design, combination, recombination, revision, imagination and self-expression. Over 150 specifically designed materials including Anji blocks, planks, ladders, barrels and climbing cubes, and thousands of other materials adapted, developed, sourced, identified and designed by Anji educators and community members engage the child’s entire body in the process of problem-solving. Children with Anji Play materials create and explore cause and effect relationships, engage in collaboration with peers, and plan and analyze based on their knowledge of these inter-relatable materials. The materials and enviroments of Anji Play allow for the greatest degree of possibilty and complexity in play through minimal structure, open-endedness and sturdiness.


Practices and Technology

Observation, reflection and technology play crucial roles in the research and design ecology of Anji Play. Anji educators and parents are highly atuned observers and researchers of play. Every day, teachers record the play that takes place at school with their smart phones. During daily Play Sharing, these photos and videos are projected in the classroom and the children lead a discussion of their experiences, insights and discoveries as a group.

Every day, children also have access to variety of materials to draw, paint, depict and otherwise record their experiences that day in richly reflective Play Stories. These stories can include the child's narrative of their experience of play transcribed by an adult (teacher or parent).

These structures for metacognitive reflection allow children and adults to gain deeper insight into the complexity of their thoughts, actions, learning and development, foster greater complexity and challenge in play and allow adults to appropriately support play by informing their decisions about environmental and material design and developing a stance, practices and language to describe the meaning and value of the child's experience. These practices of observation, reflection and research form the basis for professional development in Anji Play ecologies and extend beyond the teacher to include the engagement of families and communities.

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Resources


how to get involved

Resources


how to get involved

Join the Discussion

An important discussion taking place about the value of play, risk, self-initiated learning and the role of the adult in the lives of children. This is reflected in leading research into cognitive development.

Join this discussion wherever it is taking place in your community and become an activist for the values self-determined play, joy, love, risk, engagement and reflection in childhood.

Articles, research, media and discussions about play, risk and learning.

 

 

Anji Play in My Community

The practices, materials and environments of Anji Play are comprehensive and sophisticated, and models for sharing the approach are currently in development with close partners.

We practice True Play when we trust, observe, support and engage our children in experiences of self-determined, uniteruppted play characterized by love, risk, joy, engagement and reflection.

Please tell us more about your school or program so that we can work with you to bring Anji Play to your community.

 

Visit Anji

The kindergartens of Anji, China are place of love, joy and growth for the children, educators, families and communities there. A true understanding of Anji Play requires seeing this first-hand.

Semi-annual play conferences and Study Tours provide an opportunity for educators to meet their peers in China, visit the kindergartens of Anji and join a global community of practice.

Information on Anji Play conferences and study tours