AnjiPlay is the educational program that guides One City’s Preschool. We also use elements of AnjiPlay in our elementary school. The skills children develop through AnjiPlay are essential to them becoming highly engaged, inquisitive and independent learners. EL Education builds off of this.

AnjiPlay is a national standard for development and learning for children enrolled in kindergarten in China.

It was developed and tested by Ms. Cheng Xueqin, Superintendent of 130 public kindergartens that serve 14,000 children ages 3 to 6 in Anji County, China. All children in China are required to attend kindergarten from ages 3 to 6. The government and parents each contribute towards the cost of kindergarten education. One City is the first AnjiPlay school site outside of Mainland China.

Picture of a Family for Our 21st century equity agenda section

In the kindergartens of Anji, China, children lead their own play and self-expression. They choose what, where and with whom to play. Self-determination in play, ownership of discovery, learning through play, and the time and freedom to express complex thoughts, ideas and intentions through their play is what Ms. Cheng refers to as “True Play”. It is this type of learning by doing, by creating, by building, by reflecting and by sharing, without interference by adults, that excited One City about implementing AnjiPlay in its schools.

Also, in Anji schools, 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 design of materials and environments both in school and in the community at large.

The concept of “One City” supporting the freedom of its children to play, learn and experience joy independently and with their friends should be the capstone of every childhood. It will be for children at One City.

Through sophisticated practices, site-specific environments, unique materials and integrated technology, AnjiPlay provides a STEM-based learning model for young children while returning the right to self-determined play to them. A child’s play in an AnjiPlay school is self-determined and intentional, and is defined by five core child-centered objectives: love, risk, joy, engagement and reflection.

AnjiPlay includes minimally-structured, open-ended environments that allow children to explore, imagine and create without the interference of adults. In AnjiPlay, these environments are designed to maximize opportunities for imagination, 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.

Picture of a Family for Our 21st century equity agenda section

The principles of the AnjiPlay 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. One City worked with Ms. Cheng and her AnjiPlay team on the development of its outdoor play areas at its South Madison center during its facility renovation in 2016.

The outdoor play areas were designed specifically with Anji Play in mind

Observation, reflection and technology play crucial roles in the research and design of AnjiPlay. Anji educators and parents are highly attuned observers and researchers of play.

Every day, teachers record the play that takes place at school with their smart phones. During daily Play Sharing in the classroom, these photos and videos are projected on the classroom wall. The children then lead a discussion of their experiences, insights and discoveries as a group.

Picture of a Family for Our 21st century equity agenda section

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

For more information visit:

A school like no other in Wisconsin!

Enrollment Starts in March each year

Excitement about learning starts 'before' our children enter kindergarten.
Enroll Your Child
Let us help you inspire your child