October 22nd #Weplaychat with Play Ambassador & Educator Gina Ruffcorn

Join us on Monday, October 22nd at 9:00pm EST as we welcome co-moderator Gina Ruffcorn of West Harrison Community School to our #WePlayChat as we discuss, “Learning While Moving: Incorporating Play & Motion Into The Classroom.

Gina is a Skype Master Teacher Founding Member, Skype Master Teacher Mentor, and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. Gina also has been honored with ambassadorships from Go Noodle, Spelling City, Kahoot and Pen Pal Schools. She has a Bachelors Degree from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa and a Masters degree in literacy and 21st Century Technologies from the University of Nebraska in Omaha. She currently teaches a 5th grade self-contained classroom at West Harrison Community School in Mondamin, Iowa where she also serves as the Technology Integrationist for her school district.

Here are the questions Gina will be covering during #WePlayChat dialogue:

Q1 What are your favorite ways to incorporate movement and play into your school/work days?

Q2 How do you tie-in play and movement within your curriculum standards?

Q3 How do you give your students voice and choice in activities?

Q4 What tips and tricks do you have for incorporating movement during transition times?


#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the wide open field of play. Launched in 2016, our #WePlayChat participants come from 8 countries, spanning 4 continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.

We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through our #WePlayChat.  We have our chats at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in and contribute to the conversation around the value of play.


Play Pioneers Stuart Brown and Peter Gray to Keynote 10th Anniversary Play Conference

Play pioneers and US Play Coalition “firsts” to keynote for the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR LIFE, March 31-April 3, 2019, in Clemson, SC.

Stuart Brown, MD, our very first keynote speaker (2009) and Peter Gray, PhD, our first ever PLAYtalk presenter (2016) return to our main stage to tackle the theme of “PLAY FOR LIFE,” reflect on the last decade of the play movement, and give insights into the next decade.

“This is truly a presentation by our play heroes!” says US Play Coalition executive director Stephanie Garst.  “It is also another first – the first time they’ve ever spoken TOGETHER!  This is definitely a MUST SEE!”

Stuart Brown, MD, was the very first keynote speaker at the 2009 Summit on the Value of Play (the precursor to the Conference on the Value of Play).  Trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry and clinical research, Dr. Stuart Brown first recognized the importance of play by discovering its absence in the life stories of murders and felony drunken drivers. His years of clinical practice and review of over 6000 personal play histories affirmed the importance and need for healthy play throughout the human life cycle. His independent scholarship and exploration of the evolution and neuroscience of human and animal play have led to the establishment of the National Institute for Play. The Mission of the National Institute for Play (NIFP) is to bring the unrealized knowledge, practices and benefits of play into public life. Dr. Brown was the instigator and Executive Producer of the three-part PBS series, “The Promise of Play,” and coproduced the BBC-PBS series “Soul of the Universe.” His experience as a medical administrator, producer, and scientific consultant or creator to numerous other productions on Joseph Campbell, Cosmology, Animal Play, and Stress, plus his scientific and popular writings have identified him as the foremost “practical champion of the knowledge of play.” Dr. Brown’s book: Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul has been translated into twelve languages. He co-teaches From Play to Innovation at the Hasso Plattner School of Design at Stanford University, and is the “Key Strategist” for the Nevada Medical Center’s Global Play Science Institute. In addition to regular creative scholarly contributions for the PlayCore company, he enjoys other international corporate and academic consulting on play and its many contributions through their engagement with it, as it enhances overall human well-being. As the information base about play grows, it is evident that play is a public health necessity.

Our species, Brown says, “is built for play, and built by play.”

Peter Gray, PhD, is a research professor of psychology at Boston College, has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education.  He is author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 8thedition), which views all of psychology from an evolutionary perspective.

Gray’s recent research focuses on the roles of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so. He has expanded on these ideas in his recent book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books, 2013). He also authors a popular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine.

Gray is a founding member and president of the nonprofit Alliance for Self-Directed Education (ASDE), which is aimed at creating a world in which children’s natural ways of learning are facilitated rather than suppressed.  He is also a founding board director of the nonprofit Let Grow, the mission of which is to renew children’s freedom to play and explore outdoors, independently of adults.

The Conference on the VALUE of Play
The Play Conference, as it is commonly known, is an annual educational conference presented by the US Play Coalition. The latest research and practices in the field of play are presented at the conference, which brings together play researchers, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The three day event includes keynote and featured speakers, round tables on critical issues and trends, research symposium for academics, educational sessions for practitioners, action and research grant opportunities, PLAYtalks and PLAYinstitutes, networking, EPIC play breaks and more.

 

  

September 27th #WePlayChat: “How Culture Affects The Definition of Play”

Join us on Thursday, September 27 at 12:00pm EST (noon!) as we welcome co-moderator Jace Ferguson from Universal American School in Dubai to our #WePlayChat topic on, “How Culture Affects the Definition of Play.

Jace’s journey into the world of education started when he was just in his grade 12 year at his rural high school in Alberta, Canada. It was here where Jace was first shown the power of play and purposeful Physical Education where he job shadowed his Phys Ed teacher for an entire semester. This inspired his passion for education and propelled him to work towards receiving his Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta in 2006, Masters of Science in Recreation and Sport from Ohio University in 2013, and being engaged in this wonderful profession for twelve years.

Throughout his career, he has had the amazing opportunity to share his passion for play and education with students from K-12, work and develop programs to grow curriculum and pedagogy as the Health and Physical Education Council VP in Alberta. Currently, has has the amazing opportunity to work with students and fellow educators as an international teacher since moving to Dubai and to the Universal American School in 2015 where Jace currently serves as the K-12 Physical Education Program Coordinator. He has also become more involved in the pedagogy and professional development realm through offering webinars through ConnectedPE, #Physedagogy and have even presented at the live conferences in Dubai, Switzerland and soon Hong Kong in November.

Outside of the profession, Jace is constantly searching for new ways to become physically active with his wife and there very active soon-to-be two-year-old daughter. This usually involves random play at the playgrounds, pools and exploring new activity options that become available to them as this wonderful city continues to grow and develop. It truly is an amazing experience and I would never trade it for anything in the world!

Here are the questions Jace will be covering during #WePlayChat dialogue:

Q1. Which comes first, culture or play? Why?
Q2. How does play connect back with culture? Why is this important for healthy development?
Q3. How could cultural consideration impact the profession of education?
Q4. What does the future of Education look if Play is at the centre of culture and curriculum?

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the wide open field of play. Launched in 2016, our #WePlayChat participants come from 8 countries, spanning 5 continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.

We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through our #WePlayChat.  We have our chats at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in and contribute to the conversation around the value of play.


US Play Coalition partners
with Nickelodeon for the
15th annual Worldwide Day of Play

Nickelodeon is inspiring kids to embrace the transformative power of play and lead active lifestyles with its annual Worldwide Day of Play on Saturday, September 29.

2018 marks the 15th year of Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play (WWDoP).  Once again, the US Play Coalition is a partner with Nickelodeon for this important and FUN-omenal endeavor!  This year, the US Play Coalition helped to craft the official 2018 Partner Playbook, a planning guide for grassroots play events, complete with tips on ways to celebrate play and play activity ideas from US Play Coalition and other national partners like Afterschool Alliance, Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Girl Scouts of the USA, Kiwanis; Laureus Sport for Good, National Fitness Foundation, NFL PLAY 60, Playworks, Police Athletic League, Special Olympics, The Aspen Institute and USA BMX.

So get inspired by WWDoP and plan a Play Day in YOUR community!  It doesn’t have to be September 29 – Play Day can be any day!  Visit http://www.worldwidedayofplay.com/ for tips on ways to celebrate play and the official 2018 Playbook to help plan your own Worldwide Day of Play activities.

Check out the US Play Coalition’s Road to the Worldwide Day of Play event…!

4th Annual Clemson Community Play Day
Saturday, September 22, 11:00am-2:00pm
Nettles Park, Clemson, SC

The US Play Coalition and Clemson Parks and Rec are teaming up again for our annual Clemson Community Play Day as part of Nickelodeon’s Road to the Worldwide Day of Play. Our friends from Clemson University, the Outdoor Lab and Pickens County First Steps will be there too!  Join us for inflatables, games, crafts, photo ops and more!!! There will be a designated toddler play space AND opportunities to get wet!!  It’s FREE fun for all ages! Pack a lunch and stay for a while!  GET UP, GET OUT & GO PLAY!


Announcing 10th Anniversary
Platinum Sponsors

We are thrilled to announce our platinum sponsors for the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR LIFE.  Since our founding in 2009, these four have been at our side.  They are truly leaders in advancing play. Their support comes from their deep belief in our work, our message, and our network.

Please click on their logos to learn more about each.

          

Sarah Lisiecki newest member of the US Play Coalition Steering Committee

We are pleased to announce that Sarah Lisiecki is the newest member of the US Play Coalition Steering Committee.  Our steering committee consists of 25 leaders from across industry, education and health, all committed to its mission to promote the value of play throughout life. Steering committee members contribute their expertise and insights for the current and future work of the US Play Coalition.

“I’m truly excited to help further the US Play Coalition’s mission and engage with so many talented people while helping to bring play to communities around the world!” said Lisiecki.

Sarah is the Marketing Communications Specialist of BCI Burke, a longtime sponsor of the US Play Coalition.

US Play Coaition Excutive Director Stephanie Garst said she is proud to welcome Lisiecki to the committee.

“Sarah has attended the Play Conference for many years and exhibits a personal passion and genuine enthusiasm for play.  She is a great addition to our team!”

 


2018 Grant Winners Announced

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Play Conference, and we are proud to have awarded $52,000 in funding to date.   At the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play the new grant winners were announced.  The review process was challenging as we had a record number of outstanding submissions this year.

Each year a $3,000 research seed grant is awarded to a researcher or group of researchers who present empirical research at the play conference to support new, innovative and thoughtful work on the value of play.  This is seed funding in support of longitudinal or future research in diverse topics related to play, and grant recipients’ work reflects great potential for expanding knowledge in the field.

The 2018 Research Seed Grant was awarded to Muntazar Monsur, Ph.D., Nilda Cosco, Ph.D., and Robin Moore from NC State for their project entitled “Transitional play: Exploring the Play Value of Classroom Indoor-Outdoor Relationship of Space.”  The team plans to research transitional play and investigate the play value of transitional semi-covered space in an early childhood classroom to find out if it increases outdoor play time for children and increase children’s diversity in play.

In addition to the research grant, $1000 action grants are awarded to support creative and innovative proposals to engage groups in play or to educate about the value of play. This year we had two action grants, supported by funding from our Giving TuesPLAY initiative as well as from action grant partner the Foundation for Sustainable Parks and Recreation.

There were two projects that each received a 2018 Action Grant:

– “Loose Parts Play Builds Tight Communities” – Patty Stine and Cheryl Simpson, Co-Founders of Pure Play Every Day, Inc.

– “Unequal Playing Field – A Panel Discussion on the Importance of Accessing Equal Play for Girls and Girls of Color” – Starr Jordan & Nichole Myles from Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry


I Used To Think Play Was _________. But Now I Think Play Is _______

After teaching the “Benefits of Play in Child Development” course for the last 10 years, I have read this opening line in students’ reflection paper many times. This year my thoughts about play have also changed. I used to think that play was something I could teach my students but now I think that play is something we need to experience to be understood. The focus of my teaching has always been to help college students understand the benefits of unstructured play by helping me organize a Play Day; a community event where families play with used and recyclable materials. The students create the games or activities for the Play Day but this summer I changed the theme to an Adventure Playground. For those of you reading this, and have just crawled out from under a pre-fab playground set, an Adventure Playground provides children with loose parts and encourages them to engage in freely-chosen, child-directed play.

But…before I could host my first Adventure Playground Play Day, I had to rethink my own thoughts about what an unstructured Play Day would look like. Then I had to convince my students that an adventure playground was the way to go, and finally I had to pull it all together, and get the community to show up.

Thinking Playful Thoughts

Although it was not difficult to image what an adventure playground could look like, kids playing with ‘junk’, it took me some time to accept the idea that an unstructured Play Day could work. At the time I was reading a book about playful intelligence; in fact I had the pleasure of meeting the author at the US Play Coalition Conference in Clemson SC last April. I serendipitously pre-ordered the book by Anthony DeBenedet titled Playful Intelligence: The Power of Living Lightly in a Serious World, and discovered after getting home from the conference, and finding the book on my doorstep, that I had met the author at the conference.  Anthony’s book helped me to look at play from a different perspective, the adult point of view. As a university professor, I teach students about children development from a play perspective. My students will one day work with children as a teacher, counselor, occupational therapist, or child life specialist. I am also the parent of two kiddos who love to pretend that they are puppies. I am so steeped in teaching and advocating for children’s play that I forgot to consider adult play! Some of the key points in Anthony’s book helped me to realize that I needed to change things with my play class. That I can use my sense of wonder to rediscover and embrace my imagination; to think about a Play Day that could be different. I knew that play is for all people; I just had to remember that I also needed play.

I think she might be crazy?!

While the students were curious to learn more about adventure playgrounds, they were not sold on the idea, yet. One student thought I was a bit crazy to bring junk to a nature center and let kids play with boxes, pallets, and tubes. After reading parts of Penny Wilson’s Playwork Primer and talking with Morgan Leichter-Saxby co-founder of Pop-up Adventure Playground, the students were beginning to think of themselves as play workers instead of event planners. The role of the play worker is to provide the loose parts and allow children opportunities for risk and child-directed. However, moving to the play worker mindset takes some practice. The students who worked at daycare centers and summer youth programs, had a “safety first” mentality. Students realized they did not have to rush to help children at the Play Day; that in fact they should think of themselves as a resource and not as a remedy. Students appreciated our conversation with Morgan, and were fascinated at the scenes from the documentary “The Land.” They were completely surprised at the level of trust the play workers had with the children as we watched the kiddos use knives, build fires, and scale trees. One student reflected, “Now I know that by telling a child to be careful in the middle of their play, it restricts their play, and I’m not going to do that.”

If you build an adventure playground, they will come?

When I first started hosting Play Days I would make a flyer, post them around town at different businesses and childcare facilities, and hope for the best. Within the last 5 years, I have noticed that the more social networking sites that I posted my event to, it has increased the attendance at the Play Day. I always contact local media outlets to promote the event, however, even after I tell my students about my efforts, and encourage them to post to their social media pages, they are still unsure if anyone would show up. However, it always works! About 60 people came to the Adventure Playground Play Day. Not only was the kiddy-pool filled with mud a favorite, the children were eager to paint their toes, legs, and faces. The parents appreciated the chance for their children to get messy without having to worry about cleaning up the space, that was our responsibility.

The students were concerned about the mess afterwards, however they noted that it was a mess worth cleaning up. They suggested that for “next time” I should warn students about the mess. Although I do plan to give the future student a heads-up, I also want them to experience the Play Day in their own way. If someone had told me, 15 years ago, after I helped my colleagues Joyce Hemphill and Laura Scheinholtz arrange a Play Day, that play would be the focus of my research, advocacy, and teaching philosophy I would never have believed it. You cannot warn people about some things in life, you just have to let them experience it for themselves.

 

About the Author

Heather Von Bank, PhD, is Chair and Associate Professor of Family Consumer Science at Minnesota State University-Mankato.  She teaches and advises in the Child Development and Family Studies area. Her specialty areas include research on parent–child relations during the stage of adolescence and family life issues. Dr. Von Bank is co-author of the book “The Power of Playful Learning.”


“The Play Lady” Rumbaugh Named 2018 Outstanding Youth Development Practitioner

The U.S. Play Coalition teamed with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute (YLI) to present the Youth Development Practitioner Award at the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play. The award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services.

“There are many deserving practitioners across the nation, and our goal is to bring recognition to this field of service,” said Stephen Lance, executive director of the Youth Learning Institute.

The 2018 YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award recipient is Pat Rumbaugh, a play advocate and co-founder of Let’s Play America. She is known as “The Play Lady”, has for more than 10 years, been an advocate, author, and participant in play activities for youth and the young at heart. Pat has made youth development and play her life’s work, from the time she began her career as a physical education teacher to now as she provides multiple avenues for youth to grow in their play lives, but also, hone valuable business skills, learning advocacy and community involvement from one of the best.  She also wrote a children’s book called, “Let’s Play at the Playground,” which encourages children to choose outdoor play and sparks their imagination while looking at the full page photographs.

“It was to was an honor to receive this award,” wrote Pat in a message to Lance.  She continued with “I wanted to let you know I will continue to work hard at providing fun free play events for ALL children.”

Congratulations to our ever-playful, 2018 YLI Outstanding Youth Development Practitioner Award Winner, Pat “The Play Lady” Rumbaugh.

To learn more about the award eligibility criteria and nominate someone for the 2019 YLI Outstanding Youth Development Practitioner Award, click here.


August 21 #WePlayChat:
“Playable Infrastructure”

Join us on Tuesday, August 21 at 9:00am EST as we welcome co-moderator Meghan Talarowski of Studio Ludo to our #WePlayChat on “Playable Infrastructure.”

Meghan is the founder and director of Studio Ludo, a non-profit dedicated to building better play through research, design and advocacy. She has degrees in architecture and landscape architecture, over fifteen years of experience in the design field and is a certified playground safety inspector. Her research focuses on how the design of play environments impacts physical health and social behavior. She has presented at conferences for the American Society of Landscape Architects, Child in the City, the International Play Association, The Association for the Study of Play, and the US Play Coalition. She was a winner in the 2016 international Play Space design competition, a winner in the 2016 Kaboom Play Everywhere Challenge and a finalist for two projects in the 2015 Knight Cities Challenge.

Here are the questions Meghan will be covering during #WePlayChat dialogue:

Q1: What kinds of play memories do you want your kids to have? Is there anything keeping those experiences from happening?
Q2: How would you define playable infrastructure? 
Q3: What infrastructure do you encounter each day which supports play?
Q4: What does the future of “playable infrastructure” look like?

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the wide open field of play. Launched in 2016, our #WePlayChat participants come from 8 countries, spanning 4 continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.

We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through our #WePlayChat.  We have our chats at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in and contribute to the conversation around the value of play.