Date of Award


Document Type

Action Research Project

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education


Education, Montessori

First Advisor

Irene Bornhorst


Montessori Elementary Education, Elementary Education


This action research study investigated the use of child-led play in an after school club as a means to reduce peer conflict and increase cooperation. Prior literature suggests that children behave differently during imaginative play and exhibit greater natural behavior regulation when adult involvement is limited or removed. A small group of child participants, aged 9-14 years, were given materials necessary for a roleplaying game where players take on imaginary characters and cooperatively complete dangerous quests. One child acted as game leader, designing the adventure’s challenges and providing rules adjudication. The children attended six game sessions and completed questionnaires after each meeting. I recorded incidents of conflict between children and rated each game tables' self-management of disagreement. The children also provided verbal feedback in large group discussions. This study indicated that child conflict decreased over time while child awareness increased. Additionally, the children enjoyed their participation. The children who acted as game leaders experienced the greatest change in awareness, resulting in higher expectations of their fellow students. This study has convinced me to incorporate more child-led activity in curricular and extracurricular scenarios. The empathy and self-awareness that grew from leadership during free-play proved the children's good use of independence.