Center for Play Research

Established in 2010, the Center for Play Research at Mills College supports multiple research projects ranging from those examining play in our local Bay Area communities to others in a range of global contexts.

Our Studies Examine:

  • Play across the lifespan
  • Issues of equity and social justice related to play, including children’s rights to play
  • Cross-cultural and global perspectives on play

Involvement of Mills Students & Alumnae

Students and alumnae who are interested in learning about opportunities to get involved in our research should contact the Center Director.

Individuals & Organizations Interested in Our Research

Individuals and organizations interested in learning more about our research and publications should contact the Center Director.


In Preparation

Journal Special Issue: Guest Editor with Dr. Debora Basler Wisneski, Ph.D. for a Special issue “Reconsidering Play in the Early Years” of Early Child Care and Development.

Nicholson, J., Steele, K., Unger, T., Flynn, N., Pastel, E., & Julian, J. Creating Gender Inclusive Early Childhood Education: Constructing a Framework to Inform Theory, Research, Policy and Practice. Paper invited to be submitted to the Bank Street Occasional Paper Series: Queering Education: Pedagogy, Curriculum and Policy.

Nicholson, J., Lin, B., Maniates, H., & Woolley, R. From Ready Schools to Reading Skills: Diverse conceptions of Kindergarten Readiness among Early Childhood, Elementary and Administrative Credential Faculty in Institutions of Higher Education.

Under Review

Nicholson, J., Maniates, H., Lin, B., & Woolley, R. I’ll come back when you’re teaching: Examining the need for curricular reform in higher education in response to the introduction of Transitional Kindergarten in California’s public schools.

In Press

Nicholson, J., Bauer, A., & Woolley, R. (in press). Inserting child initiated play into an American urban school district after a decade of scripted curricula—Complexities and progression. American Journal of Play.

Nicholson, J., & Perez, L. (in press) "Mommy, Will you die today when you go to work?": Intersectional reflections on negotiating life as an education professor and parenting a child healing from early relational trauma. In K. Scoot and A. Henward (Eds.), Women Education Scholars and Their Children's Schooling.

In Print 

Nicholson, J., Jevgjovikj, M, Kurnik, J., & Ufoegbune, V. (2015). Cycling on Abandoned World War II airfield roads and Jugando a Las Escondidas en el Parque: Examining Play Memories from Adults Growing Up Around the World. Early Child Development and Care.

Nicholson, J., Kurnik, J., Jevgjovikj, M., & Ufoegbune, V. (2015) Deconstructing adults’ and children’s discourse on children’s play: Inserting children’s voices to destabilize deficit narratives. Early Child Development and Care.

Nicholson, J., & Shimpi, P. M. (2015). Guiding future early childhood educators to reclaim their own play as a foundation for becoming effective advocates for children’s play. Early Child Development and Care.

Nicholson, J., Shimpi, P., Kurnik, J., Carducci, C., & Jevgjovikj, M. (2014). Listening to children’s perspectives on play across the lifespan: Children’s right to inform adults’ discussions of contemporary play. International Journal of Play, 3(2), 136–156.

Nicholson, J., Shimpi, P., & Rabin, C. (2013). ‘If I am not doing my own playing then I am not able to truly share the gift of play with children’: Using poststructuralism and care ethics to examine future early childhood educators’ relationships with play in adulthood. Early Child Development and Care.

Shimpi, P., & Nicholson, J. (2013). Using cross-cultural, intergenerational play narratives to explore issues of social justice and equity in discourse on children’s play. Early Child Development and Care.

Nicholson, J., Shimpi, P., & Carducci, C. (Sep 2012) Children’s right to be heard: Learning from children about their perspectives on play. Child Care Exchange, 54- 57.