Talking PLAY in Singapore!

DSC_3402  DSC_3408  Fran presenting at GUSA Congress in Singapore 11-2015

Earlier this month, several members of our steering committee were featured at GreenUrbanScape Asia 2015 – the region’s leading event for urban design, landscape and greenery. Co-chair Fran Mainella was the keynote speaker for the parks and recreation track of the conference held in Singapore. Her keynote address was “The Value of Play – A Key to Success for Cities and Nations.” Additionally, Fran offered a breakout session called, “The Play Prescription – An International Health Solution.”

Steering committee member and Playground Maintenance Training (PMT) Instructor Ken Kutska led a full PMT program as well as a session entitled “Facilitating the Balance between the Need for Safety and Risk: Whose job is it?” Both Ken and Fran participated in a panel discussion moderated by our own Tom Kalousek.

IMG_0471 IMG_0460 DSC_3996-crop

Check Out Our 2015 Grant Winners

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Play Conference, and we are proud to have awarded $35,000 in funding to date. Through competitive funding opportunities, we offer both Action and Research Grants to playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement.

Our 2015 Research Grant Recipients from Appalachian State University have used our funds to pilot a 2015 researchgrantpediatrician prescription program for outdoor play targeting children.  Currently, we have 3 local pediatricians providing patients and their parents with “Outdoor Activity in Nature” prescriptions and info on local places for play and why play is important.

One of our 2015 Action Grant Recipients is Play at the Core from Right to Play.  This year, using our Action Grant Funds, Play at the Core has RTP action grant 2015piloted two different parent engagement formats—with the aim of familiarizing, and fostering confidence in using play-based learning practices in the home. They work in under-resourced Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York City located in the Bronx, Harlem, and Washington Heights.

Our other 2015 Action Grant Winners were from Missouri State University. Their project looked at 2015 action grant MSUproviding appropriate play experiences for children with autism.  They worked with 28 children, grades K-12, with ASD from the Rivendale Institute of Learning and Center for Autism in Springfield, MO, and approximately 25 undergraduate Kinesiology majors at MSU.

 


Here is YOUR chance to GIVE the gift of PLAY on Giving TuesPLAY!

Giving TuesPLAY Cover Photo

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday is #GivingTuesday. It is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants to create our first ever #GivingTuesday Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We are calling it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!) Big or small, your gift MATTERS!!

Our 2015 Research Grant Recipients from Appalachian State University have used our funds to pilot a 2015 researchgrantpediatrician prescription program for outdoor play targeting children.  Currently, we have 3 local pediatricians providing patients and their parents with “Outdoor Activity in Nature” prescriptions and info on local places for play and why play is important.

One of our 2015 Action Grant Recipients is Play at the Core from Right to Play.  This year, using our Action Grant Funds, Play at the Core has RTP action grant 2015piloted two different parent engagement formats—with the aim of familiarizing, and fostering confidence in using play-based learning practices in the home. They work in under-resourced Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York City located in the Bronx, Harlem, and Washington Heights.

Our other 2015 Action Grant Winners were from Missouri State University. Their project looked at 2015 action grant MSUproviding appropriate play experiences for children with autism.  They worked with 28 children, grades K-12, with ASD from the Rivendale Institute of Learning and Center for Autism in Springfield, MO, and approximately 25 undergraduate Kinesiology majors at MSU.

YOU CAN HELP US GIVE MORE PLAY IN 2016 WITH YOUR GIVING TUESPLAY GIFT!  JOIN THE GLOBAL MOVEMENT AND DONATE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1!!!  YOUR GIFT MATTERS!!

 


Indoor Mini Golf

Source: ©2015. Joyce Hemphill, Laura Scheinholtz, and Heather Von Bank and adapted from The Power of Playful Learning.
PFS mini  golf

Don’t let the cold and damp weather of November put a damper on your golf game. Bring the game inside using what you can find around the house.

Supplies:

Equipment:

  • Long paper tube (e.g., wrapping paper tube)
  • Sponge (Note: Use a clean sponge for this activity. When finished playing, reuse the sponge for washing dishes.)
  • Balls of various sizes OR crumpled newspaper/scrap paper

For the Course:

  • Foam egg cartons (Wash egg cartons in warm soapy water or clean with anti-bacterial wipes)
  • Plastic cups or canisters of various sizes and shapes
  • Plastic container lids
  • Paper tubes (e.g., wrapping paper tubes, paperboard tubes from trouser hangers)
  • Cardboard or paperboard boxes
  • Books

Hole Flags:

  • Individual serving-sized yogurt, fruit, or pudding cups
  • Round bamboo skewers

Other:

  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Stapler

 

To make:

This activity works best in a room with lots of floor space.

  • Using duct tape, attach the sponge to the long paper tube to serve as the golf club.
  • On paper, design and plan the shape of the golf course. Think about fun challenges along the course and indicate where they will go. Examples of challenges include:
    • Putting the ball through an egg carton tunnel
    • Maneuvering the ball around obstacles, such as cups set upside down in a random pattern or groupings of paper tubes
    • Hitting the ball through a zigzag section made from paper tubes
    • Tapping the ball up and down a ramp made from pieces of cardboard and a stack of books.
  • Use the various boxes, foam egg cartons, and/or paper tubes to create a barrier or bumper for the golf course.
  • For the holes, lay the plastic containers, paper, and/or canisters on their sides.
  • Identify each hold with a flag.
    • Make a flag by taping a triangular piece of paper onto the flat/smooth end of a bamboo skewer.
    • Insert the pointed end through exterior center point of the yogurt cup’s bottom.

 


Inviting Parents Back onto the Playground

LTC Generation Swing_mom_kid2The new Generation Swing by Little Tikes Commercial brings a whole new dimension to swinging.

The new face-to-face adult/toddler Generation Swing means that parents and caregivers are no longer relegated to the sidelines, pushing or simply watching their child swing. Now adults can experience the joy of swinging along with their children.

The unique design encourages social development and intergenerational play. It’s even great for siblings, grandparents and other caregivers! Everyone knows how important it is for children to get out and play, but we often forget that adults can also get involved and increase the benefits for everyone. When a toddler makes eye contact with their parent, both experience a rush of joy. This emotional connection through play is known as attunement play, which is strengthened when parents and toddlers are able to swing face-to-face, both experiencing the joy of swinging together.

Learn more about the Generation Swing here.


The Habit of Play

Often times our days are filled with busy calendars. Our routines and commitments keep us so busy that we forget what is actually important. Play is often overlooked and replaced by other “productive” habits which are usually outcome driven.

However, if you are reading this you probably are already bought into the idea that play can invigorate your day, enrich your week, and if done frequently can change your life for the better. In a book I just read called The Power of Habit, the author describes this well. He claims that, “Our lives are nothing more than a series of habits”. He is right. Our lives are really just a series of habits and decisions we choose to create and sustain. When we move or change jobs we often replace old habits with new ones. If this is true, it is also true that we need to be mindful in incorporating play into our daily lives as we become adults of habits. Our habits become more engrained as we age and become harder to change. However, if you are going to increase the prevalence of play in your life you need to start slowly placing it into your life by replacing existing habits that are tightly established. This intentional change can happen to allow you to have time in your schedule dedicated to “Play.”

Whatever that form of play looks like is totally up to you! You could incorporate any form of play you want ONCE you have made a habit of allowing time for it to happen each day.

I know that in my own life I have to be very intentional about including play into my daily routine. For me, working out is a form of active play! I literally think of the gym as a giant playground. If you were to see me in a gym working out you would totally see that I am clearly playing and enjoying the process more than the outcome.

I have also made a conscious effort to set aside 15-20 min per day just for unstructured play time. That could be for walking in the park, writing poetry (creative play) or singing when I am cooking a nice meal.. Some days I find it challenging to include play into my schedule but once I know I have that 15-20 min I choose to make the most of it!

The important thing to remember from this blog is that you are totally in control of including play in your daily routines, and you are fully capable of including play in your lifelong habits. It is up to you. I choose to enjoy and enriching life filled with play each day. Will you choose playful habits?

 

Ryan & RioBy: Ryan Fahey, B.Ed, BKin

Ryan is a new regular blogger for the US Play Coalition. He is working to develop our Play Ambassador program and spread the word about the Value of Play.


A New Concept in Accessible Water Play

Central Park_Rosemount_MN_2014 (1)  Gilroy Gardens_Water Oasis_Waterpark (3)

A modular water play concept developed by Vortex Aquatic Structures, Water Journey™ combines up to 4 different play areas (Jet Dance, Labyrinth, Race, and Tide Pool), all inspired by the behavior of water in nature.

Water Journey™ provides an accessible play experience to children of different age groups and levels of development. Using water to provide sensory experiences of all kinds, Water Journey™ fosters mechanical explorations while also encouraging social interaction.

Water Journey™ promotes the use of play as a modality to stimulate motor, cognitive, sensory and social development. Children learn the relationship between actions and associated reactions as the water encounters the various game features such as gates, pumps, streams, jets and water mills.

Proving a hit at Gilroy Gardens in California, General Manager, Barbara-Lea Granter commented, “Water Journey™ is very popular with boys age six to eight – something we didn’t expect. They like the science of it, and to see the impact on the water. Guests are bringing their own rubber duckies and boats to place in the water and watch the water flows.”

Find out more about Water Journey™ here.

 

Jason Broadhurst is Director of Marketing for Vortex Aquatic Structures International.


#Playful Kids

monkeybars2Recently we sat down with Evie Houtz, Program Specialist for Be Active Kids in Raleigh, NC. Evie is a mother of two playful kids. She is a role model for living an active, healthy lifestyle! Here is what Evie had to say when we chatted with her about Play!

“As Play Ambassadors, it is our job teach our children how to be playful and physically active just as much as it is our job to teach them morals, values, social skills, and educational concepts.   Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.   Physically active children will develop gross motor skills that later help them to take part in games and sports with their peers.  Physical activity helps children build strong hearts, muscles and bones, improve thinking skills, develop positive self-esteem and confidence and just have fun.

Kids of all ages need both structured and unstructured physically active play throughout the day.   Structured activities are adult led and have a specific learning objective.  This type of physical activity includes games like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light and organized sports like t-ball or soccer.  Young children should get between 60-90 minutes of structured physical activity throughout the day.  Many of these structured activities help the child to learn a motor skill or increase competency in movement.  In addition children should take part in at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity or free play.  This type of physical activity is child centered, child led and child initiated.  Unstructured physical activity includes things like fort building, climbing trees, running around pretending to be magical beings or super heroes, or creating a city out of boxes.  Unstructured free play helps a child to be more creative, learn to experiment, to work cooperatively, and to think more critically.  Both types of physical activity should be spread throughout the day.

In helping a child to play more, know that you have many items you around you each day that can be used for active play.  We all have milk jugs that can turn in to targets or balls, sticks that can used as swords, plastic bags that turn into juggling scarves and mud that can be thrown to ward off the bad guys.  It takes some creativity, courage and a little out-of-the-box thinking, but it is so important. Getting kids active is essential to their long term health and well-being.   Studies have shown that the motivation to be active (exercise) in adulthood can be influenced by childhood experiences.”

For more ideas or how to use inexpensive items to increase physical activity, check out the Be Active Kids 8 one-pagers.

 

By: Ryan Fahey, B.Ed, BKin

Ryan is a new regular blogger for the US Play Coalition.  He is working to develop our Play Ambassador program and spread the word about the Value of Play.


Rock-n-Roll Math*

Source: ©2015. Joyce Hemphill, Laura Scheinholtz, and Heather Von Bank and adapted from The Power of Playful Learning.

* This game was named by participants of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Kane and Kendall Counties in Illinois.
Rock-n-Roll Math

Supplies:

One panel of a cereal/cracker box

12 pebbles

Pair of dice

Marker

 

To make:

Divide and mark the plain side of the panel into 12 squares. Number the squares one through twelve.

 

To play:

The object of the game is to get a pebble in each of the twelve boxes.

  • Before you begin the game, think about the following situations and establish a rule.
    • Can’t place a pebble: There will be times when a pebble cannot be placed. Does that mean the game is over? Or is this similar to baseball where each player gets three strikes? If there are two or more players, should this result in that person losing the game?
    • Doubles: What happens when a double is rolled? Does that person get an extra roll? Or does it mean the player loses a turn?
  • To begin play, roll the dice. Decide where pebbles should be placed. There are three choices:
    • Combine the numbers on each die and put a pebble on the sum
    • Subtract the lower die from the higher die and put a pebble on that number
    • Cover two numbers – one for each die.

 

This game can be played:

  • Solo
  • Competing against another person
  • As a group where each person takes a turn rolling the dice. If a play cannot be made that person is out.

 

 


Las Chivas

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, our Playing from Scratch game this month is Las Chivas, a variation of the game matatenas or as commonly known in the United States, jacks.

las chivas

Supplies:

  1. 10-20 pebbles or dried beans
  2. Note: The number of pebbles is determined by the size of the player’s hand.
  3. A wide, shallow bowl or box lid
  4. If played outside a wide, shallow hole can be dug in the ground

 

To Play:

  • Place the bowl on the ground.
  • Designate a ‘tossing line’ about 6-to-8 feet from the bowl.
  • While holding all the pebbles in one hand, Player 1 stands at the ‘tossing line’ and gently tosses all the pebbles simultaneously toward and hopefully into the bowl.  S/he then walks up and removes ONLY the pebbles that are in the bowl. These are then placed on the back of her/his dominate hand. Once these are balanced on the back of the hand the pebbles are flipped into the air and caught in the palm of the same hand. Count the number of pebbles caught. It is now the next player’s turn.
  • The person who with the highest pebble count is the winner.

Resources:

Pre-Hispanic Marbles, or Jacks? (n.d.) Retrieved August 30, 2015 from http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/artefacts/pre-hispanic-marbles-or-jacks

Quezada, F.  (August 30, 2015) Email interview.

Sierra, J. & Kaminski, R. (1995) Children’s Traditional Games: Games from 137 Countries and Cultures. Oryx Press: Phoenix AZ