Standby, Mission Control

New Jersey teachers Kimberly Grigoli and Paige Majka, both Tools of the Mind Endorsed Educators, share the joy and excitement of learning during make-believe play.

The challenge


What we heard from teachers and administration at after implementing Tools at

Standby, Mission Control


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The process

Committee search to choose the right curriculum

Selection of Tools of the Mind curriculum & professional development

Tools training and implementation for all relevant staff

Teaching and learning review and outcomes

Teachers, we know you love to see your students connect with their learning. And we hear all the time from Tools teachers how invested and excited their children are when learning and playing in a Tools classroom. They’re genuinely having fun. At the same, they’re building crucial skills and navigating relationships with their classmates – learning how to interact as learners and peers across all kinds of scenarios, especially during Make-Believe play.

“Deep play’ is really when the students are so engaged in their play, they forget that anything else is happening in the room around them. Sometimes they don’t hear that clean-up song! But, it’s ok. When they’re engaged, they’re learning.”  - Paige Majka

It’s not just play, it’s ‘deep play’

In Tools classrooms, children become deeply invested as they engage in scenarios they construct together through make-believe play. They use these scenarios as an entry point to define roles and storylines for themselves and their peers. That can grow into what Tools teacher Paige Majka calls ‘deep play,’ a kind of flow state where children are so engaged in the scenario they’ve created that they don’t want to stop–even to go home. They are not just going through the motions; they are what they’ve worked together to create.  

From mission control to self-control

Listen in as two Tools teachers, Kimberly Grigoli and Paige Majka, relive the action from the day their New Jersey preschoolers maneuvered a rover on Mars – under the guidance of Mission Control, of course! Not only do their students dig into their roles and allow the world around them to fade away, but the teachers explain that the children are still able to switch roles when the timer goes off, demonstrating their strong self-regulation skills even in the midst of this deep play. 

3-2-1 blast off!

We find the excitement of the children (and their teachers!) completely contagious. 

The mission is a go: Watch the video below as the students build on their own ideas, scaffolding their learning to increase the level of complexity and fun in their play.

Tools Takeaways

  • Children often become completely immersed in make-believe play scenarios they construct with peers
  • Teachers can see children’s play change as they scaffold their own learning