The purpose of this study is to theoretically and practically examine the possibility of play in terms of preparation for school. Transition to school is a key theme in ECE. While play remains important in ECE, it has never been studied in terms of transition to school. It has been argued that play as approach curriculum is in opposition to learning which is the dominant activity in school. We have applied Vygotsky’s theories to practice with an examination of “gakko gokko” (“playing school”) at a childcare center. The early childhood teacher pretended to be a school teacher, and the children pretended to be school students. They played at studying school subjects such as, science and mathematics, and doing homework. During “gakko gokko”, children performed the role of school student, and the teacher’s role became more instructive than usual. Children’s emotional experiences reflected the activity and the setting.Analysis found that the children learned to use cultural tools and take expected action in specific settings through “gakko gokko”. Their behavior reflected a type of school habitus. “Gakko gokko” does not mean that children master language and number learning. “Gakko gokko” allows children to experience going to school through play, and possibly increasing motivation for transition to school.