Twenty Times the Play Value


Two years ago, Landscape Structures, Inc. first introduced the Smart Play® design concept and it was a hit. The whimsical and modern designs of Smart Play: Motion 2-5 and Smart Play: Cube 2-5 have caught the attention of communities across the globe. Plus, playground planners have loved the smart design and efficient use of materials in the playstructures. And now we’ve expanded the line to include a design especially for 5- to 12-year-olds.

SquareLoopClimberVentiSmart Play: Venti™, which means “twenty” in Italian, packs 20 exciting activities into its compact size. Nets, slides, belts and climbers provide challenges that promote physical development and strategic thinking, while also creating hangouts where kids can take a break and connect with others. With multiple entry points and plenty of activities, this ADA-compliant playstructure can accommodate a whole class at once.



Learn more about Smart Play: Venti and see it in action by visiting



#WePlayChat A Rousing Success

twitterchat1Last month we held our first ever #WePlayChat on Twitter around the topic, “Why We Play”? Hosted by our executive director Stephanie Garst and our Play Ambassador Coordinator Ryan Fahey, the Twitter chat was a huge success and was the first of its kind on social media!  #WePlayChat-ers included teachers, playground organizations, play advocates and other play enthusiasts from coast to coast as well as from Canada and the UK – all tuning in to connect around why #WePlay through a series of open-ended questions.

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag (#). This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with similar interests.

Here are some snapshots of conversations that happened during our groundbreaking #WePlayChat:

Jan chat Q3                             Jan chat Q1


Since then we had another thrilling Twitter Chat with THREE COUNTRIES represented – Australia and Canada joined our American Twitter-ers in a discussion on PLAY in the Community.

Over the next few months we will continue to share the voice of play on Twitter through these #WePlayChats.  We are trying them 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 the conversation around the value of play. This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from the across the globe from the comfort of your own environs.

Our next #WePlayChat will be held on March 15th at 9:30am EST. We will be discussing different types of PLAY.  In April our chat will highlight lessons learned from The Play Conference.  And in May we will begin inviting guest moderators to  the chat – Genius of Play will be our first.

Find us on Twitter @USPlayCoalition


Fun Fact for February: The bottle cap was patented on February 2, 1892.




  • Lots of bottle caps and/or jug lids

To Play:

  • Decide ahead of time if there are rules for stacking. For example, “all the caps must have the flat side down”.
  • Start stacking.
  • Whoever has  the highest tower of caps without falling wins!


  • Collaborate as a team
  • Use caps of a variety of sizes
  • Stack caps in a color sequence

Nature Rx Filmmaker Justin Bogardus to Join PLAYtalk Lineup

Our next PLAYtalk presenter just found the cure for EVERYTHING bad in your life – a prescription for Nature!

nature rx collage


Justin Bogardus’ short Nature Rx films (over 25 million views through Facebook and Youtube) have entered the world vernacular with their unique dose of laughs and the outdoors – two timeless prescriptions for whatever ails you. Nature Rx parts 1, 2, and 3 have appeared at over 50 film festivals worldwide, garnering several best short awards, and national attention from Outside Magazine, National Geographic, Sierra Club, Wired Magazine, Upworthy, and others.

Justin’s filmmaking career began in NYC in 2004 when he produced several award-winning documentaries for television about wrongful convictions and post-conviction DNA exonerations. Alongside his film work, Justin Bogardus has a master’s degree in contemplative psychology, and teaches part time at Naropa University. Currently Justin is developing the next Nature Rx series – Nature Rx Kids. His PLAYtalk at The Play Conference 2016 will be “Does Nature have a Marketing Problem?”

We are thrilled that Justin will be with us for The Play Conference 2016! 


The ABCs of Play Conference 2016 Educational Sessions

The full detailed schedule is coming soon…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the Educational Sessions that have been accepted for The Play Conference: Rebooting Play.


 playing with boxes from Pat RumbaughDSCF1079PLAY Conference logoDSCF1349IMG_2667

Be sure to REGISTER TODAY because the early bird deadline for this PLAYful conference is Monday, February 15.


Adventures in Risk: Comparing injury rates of one population on two different school playgrounds

Advocacy & Awareness:  An overview of a 20 year project promoting SAFE, inclusive, and high quality outdoor play areas for children

All Grown Up! Emerging Trends with Play Past Childhood: Parkour, Parks, and Programming

An Action Grant Update – Providing Appropriate Play Experiences for Children with Autism

Art of Active Play: A Philadelphia Experiment in Promoting Health through Play

Bernheim’s Children at Play Initiative: A Community Approach to Change

Bestowing the Value of Play through Literacy, Science, and the Arts

Building a Community of PLAY: A Collaborative Educational Public Project

Child’s Play: Creating nature based outdoor play space in family child care settings

Come play with me!  Mutual benefits of intergenerational play between young adults and older adults

Connecting Children and Nature Through Art-based Environmental Education Programming

Designing Fitness-Focused Playgrounds: a stealth-health community wellness solution

Evolution Not Revolution: Working within the educational establishment to contribute to the play revolution

Family Homelessness and the Contextual Nature of Play

Forensic Playwork – the art of reading the signs of play

From Fascination to Torture: Children’s interactions with bugs during play.

From past to present: The value of play across the lifespan

Right To Play’s Play at the Core Program: Learning through the Power of Play

Healthy Way to Grow: Increasing Physical Activity in Early Care & Education Programs

Letting Inmates Run The Prison – Lessons from giving democratic free play to an inner city school

Making the Case for Play Policy and Practice: Evidence-Based Indicators

Mapping Playspaces in Springfield, Missouri

Nature-Based Child Centered Play Therapy

NaturePlay in your Parks and Community Centers

New Games:  The Foundation of Cooperative  & Non-Competitive Play & Games

The Genius of Play: Making Play a Priority for Today’s Busy Families

Physical Literacy is the Gateway to Play

Play as a key element in teaching and learning about the natural world

Play Everywhere: Making Play the Easy Choice

Play For All II: A Journey of Community Connection and Program Evaluation

Play Initiative: Before, During, and After School with Family and Educational Leaders

Play is Power: Play-Based Preschool in a Climate of Educational Emergency

Play is the Proper Prescription for Innovation

Play Strong: a medically-based physical activity program

Playing in School: The Principals’ Perspective

Playing in the park! A coalition workgroup’s efforts to increase youth play opportunities throughout Greenville County, South Carolina

Playing Is Learning: How Inclusive Playgrounds Support Language Development

Playing With Your Food: How an urban food desert is recovering from a natural disaster through healthy life-style choices and play

Playworking the Children’s Museum: Beyond Play-Based Learning

Playworks Pro

Promoting Physical Activity through Multigenerational Play

Reboot Summer Camp Healthy Habits

Recess Revolution – Rethink the Way You Play!

Pilot Study of an Outdoor Play Prescription Program for Children

Rethinking Play on Elementary School Grounds

Rethinking the Play (Recess) Privilege: Good Kid vs Bad Kid

Roots and Wings: Exploring intergenerational play

The Evolution of American Playgrounds From 1900 to 2020 and Beyond


Teachers perceptions of LiiNK project benefits for K-2 children

The (Seemingly) Unprepared Environment: A Montessori School’s Journey to Revolutionize Play

The BcubeTM Experience: Accelerating organizational performance

The Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone and other stories of the US Adventure Play Renaissance

The Importance of Good Design: A Comparison of Play in London versus New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles

The Kinesthetic Classroom: Why, How and When?

The LiiNK Project: The effects of play and character development on classroom behaviors and attentional fatigue in public school grades K & 1

The Need for Play in Psychological Rehabilitation

The Nexus of Policy and Play: A Reboot for the Future

The Play Cycle – the invisible thread that weaves through playing

The Power of Neighborhood Play

The power of play in developing emotional intelligence for leadership success

The relationship of added recesses, physical activity levels, and positive emotional states in K-2 aged children

Tinkering: Constructivist play across the life span

Understanding Preschool Teachers’ Beliefs about Outdoor Play and Naturalized Playgrounds and Practices for Young Children

Use Your Inside Voice and Your Outside Mind II: Playful Instruction and Classroom Management

Using an Outdoor Classroom to extend learning through play!

Using Books To Encourage Play: A Bibliographic Adventure

Using Play to Promote Physical Activity

We want you…to attend the US Play Coalition Mid-Western Play Conference

What’s wrong with a little PLAY in the work place?

Where Design Comes into Play: Improving access to play through innovation

Young Children & Playing With History



DANCEPL3Y For Life: Tracy Lockwood

This is the second in a series that our Play Ambassador Coordinator Ryan Fahey is doing to highlight people and businesses doing what we love…PLAY!  Since Ryan lives in Canada, many of his features will be on our neighbors to the north, broadening the global reach of our Play Coalition. Recently, Ryan sat down with DANCEPL3Y Educator Tracy Lockwood from Alberta, Canada to discuss what fuels her passion as an Educator and play expert. Here is what Tracy had to say:

 Outdoor Bio Pic1-TL 2015DANCEPL3Y Bio Pic-Tracy

1. Why do you think Play is so important?
Play is vital for so many reasons and it’s not just for children’s sake.  When people play, they use their creativity and at the same time develop their physical, emotional, social and cognitive capabilities. Specifically, play improves learning, communication skills, and allows for self-expression. Most of all, play is fun!
2. You are an educator and play advocate, what made you decide to get in to DANCEPL3Y?
My first DANCEPL3Y experience was extremely memorable.  I remember feeling so happy, energized and full of joy and confidence after just one DANCEPL3Y session.  Afterwards, I just knew that I had to bring this program to schools, athletic teams and recreation centres. In fact, in my first year with the program, I became an Instructor, then a Master Trainer!  I’ve never had any dance training as a kid, but I did play team sports my entire life. As a physical education teacher, exposing my students to a variety of activities is very important for not only a well-rounded program, but to make sure they were learning skills in many areas and dance is one of those important activities.  DANCEPL3Y is truly the best way I have taught dance in my 20+ years being a teacher. 
3. As a DANCEPL3Y Instructor and Master Trainer, what things do you like the most when teaching to others?
In my DANCEPL3Y instruction with kids and teens, I love seeing the change in their attitude from the beginning of class to the end.  I feel like I leave them better than when we started.  They are smiling and sweating and it feels great to have played a part in that.  In DANCEPL3Y, participants feel comfortable and confident in their abilities.  This is true for children, teens and adults.  As a Master Trainer, I have the opportunity to host DANCEPL3Y Kids Instructor Courses.  I find that even when I work with adults, the feelings that come from participating in DANCEPL3Y are the same. The comments are always overwhelmingly positive and that motivates me to continue. 
4. What forms of Play do you include in your day to day life? Why? (ex: creative play, water play, etc..)
I was drawn to and grew up playing every team sport in school.  To this day, I still enjoy “social/team play”.  I love going to fitness classes at my local gym.  In this way, being in a group setting is very motivating and I am able to challenge myself (while secretly competing with others 🙂 ).  Outdoor/nature play is a part of my life.  Hiking in the mountains, for example, is one way I enjoy the outdoors.  Lastly, I am so fortunate to be a DANCEPL3Y Instructor and Trainer where I can practice my play skills (creativity, social and physical play) at the same time that I’m “working”.  
5. If you could change one thing in the world that was Play related, what would you change and why?
Changing one thing is tough 🙂  My first “world changer” would be that I would expose and introduce every child and adult to DANCEPL3Y!  It has added so much to my life and those around me that I want everyone to participate in it.  My other “world changer” would be that every child has equal opportunities to play with access to nature play activities and safe outdoor play structures/experiences that will improve their creativity, socialization and overall physical, emotional, and cognitive development.
Thank you Tracy! You continue to do so much to add value to play in Canada and around the world. Your passion for movement and play in contagious. Keep up the good work!

Sneak Peek of Award Winning film “NaturePlay” at The Play Conference 2016

Attendees of The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play will get a special sneak peek of the brand new, award winning documentary NaturePlay.

NaturePlay is a stunning 4K, Cinematic portrait of Childhood defining education and play. Upon the start of their own child’s education, the Danish/American filmmakers discover that in the USA rampant school testing has become a virus, turning the system into an infected beast. In their search for a cure, they go on an inspiring Nordic journey to uncover how children naturally learn and a way to take childhood back. A secret defense is also unveiled to rescue these children. One that can drive social change.  In a High Stakes education – What’s truly at stake?  Our Children.

Most recently, NaturePlay won the award of Excellence from the Accolade Global Film Competition.  Each year Accolade bestows a Humanitarian Award to a deserving filmmaker who is committed to making a difference in the world and recognizes filmmakers who have created outstanding films that fulfill the goals of this prestigious award.

The goal of the Humanitarian Award is to honor filmmakers who are bringing awareness to issues of Ecological, Political, Social Justice, Health and Wellness, Animals, Wildlife, Conservation and Spiritual importance. (One of the others winners was Ridley Scott for his film ZERO.) That makes 4 awards total for NaturePlay so far, including one for Cinematography


#WePlay Twitter Chat Series Kicks Off January 22

twitterchat1#WePlayChat is a professional development opportunity from the US Play Coalition for Play Ambassadors, Play Advocates and Play Enthusiasts across the world who are seeking to gain knowledge around play. #WePlayChat also serves as a platform for you to engage and network with other organizations and individuals in a professional setting from the comfort of your own environment. We are bringing the play content to you completely free of charge.

#WePlayChat will be held monthly. Our first chat will be Friday, January 22nd from 2:00-3:00pm EST.

Our first topic will be:

Understanding why we play
1.Why do we think play is so important?
2.Why do we play?
3.What happens if we don’t include play in our daily lives?

Feel free to join the conversation on Twitter with @usplaycoalition and @wellnessrf by using the #WePlayChat on January 22nd. We look forward to connecting, sharing and networking with you as we reboot play in 2016!


Here are tips for how to be a great Twitter Chat participant from

1) Do not wait too long to join the conversation. Sometimes we follow a Twitter Chat from afar without daring to integrate into the conversation. But don’t be afraid. Participants in Twitter Chats are often very welcoming, I recommend that you choose a topic that really challenges you to feel more comfortable to participate.

2) Once you have decided to get started, tell your subscribers that a big wave of tweets will be coming their ways because you are joining a Twitter Chat. In general, we do not like to see 20 tweets in a row from the same person, so it is best to prevent Plus, you can also share a trick that allows your users to hide the tweets that contain a particular hashtag.

3) Introduce yourself to the other participants with a short sentence so that other participants know who they’re talking to. Example: Hi, I’m Justine. I am a blogger and I look forward to talking with you! #WePlayChat.

4) When answering a question, do not forget the A1 for answer 1. The number changes depending on the question number (A1 – correspond to Q1). And if you decide to interact with just one person, do not forget the point before the @. This way the tweet will still appear in your feed and others can join the Chat. Unless of course you do not want your subscribers to follow your conversation!

5) Do not forget the hashtag at the end of each of your tweets (#WePlayChat)! This is one of the most important rules. It allows you to be a part of the big conversation. Plus, other participants will find you easily and will be able to read answers to your questions.

6) Respect the community by staying polite and positive in every situation!

7) You want to show that you agree with the tweet of a participant, a RT (retweet!) is simple enough. If you want to add a comment but you do not have space for it, retweet the tweet and answer it after, remembering to put the point before the @.

8) Do not hesitate to ask questions to the host of the Chat if you do not understand a question.

9) The Twitter Chat is not the time for self-promotion and sharing links to your platforms. The objective is to help each other, discuss and exchange while remaining on topic.

10) You will probably receive advices or tips. Consider having a notebook to take notes and to not forget anything that have been said.

11) You want to continue the discussion? Add the people you want to interact with via Twitter. It is also a good way to stay in touch and build relationships.

Have a great Chat ! See you on Friday, January 22 at 2pm EST for our #WePlayChat.

Create Your Own Jigsaw Puzzle

January 29th is National Puzzle Day.

Go back to basics and create your own jigsaw puzzle.

Untitled 2



  • Cereal box or other paperboard packaging material
  • Calendar pages, greeting cards, photos, or drawings
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paint, markers, or crayons (Optional)


To make:

  • IF using calendar pages, greeting cards, photos, or drawing, glue onto paperboard material. Allow to dry.
    •  Note: IF using the design on the packing material you do NOT need to glue onto   another piece of paperboard.
  • Cut around the images and lettering to create the puzzle pieces.


PAW Prints and Beyond: Mary Ann Rintoul

This is the first in a series that our Play Ambassador Coordinator Ryan Fahey
is doing to highlight people and businesses doing what we love…PLAY!  Since Ryan lives in Canada, many of his features will be on our neighbors to the north, broadening the global reach of our Play Coalition.

Recently I sat down with Professor Rintoul from the University of Alberta to discuss why she places such a high value on play. Rintoul goes beyond being passionate for play as she currently runs the PAW campaign and is heavily involved with IPA. Along with these accomplishments, we are glad to have Professor Rintoul involved with the US Play Coalition as a Play Ambassador as she continues to promote the value of play!MaryAnn Rintoul

  1. What is your favourite thing to do that is playful? Why do you think play is so impor

This is a tricky question….as I believe play is not always defined as an activity (thing to do) but as a state of mind. We can be playful all the time! If I were to pick a couple of my top playful things to do, I would say dancing and exploring ocean shores (I love rocks). 

  1. What is “Play Around The World”?

Play Around the World (PAW) is a credit course that is designed to provide University of Alberta students with a 3-month cross-cultural volunteer experience either internationally or in Canada. Offered by the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Canada, students from diverse educational backgrounds form learning communities which are structured to provide a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to learning, leadership, and programming. The main purpose of Play Around the World is to provide students with an opportunity to develop a sense of global awareness and citizenry through a service-learning course focused on Play Provision (United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child). This is achieved through collaboration with various schools, government agencies, and community-based organizations where students work with staff members to provide opportunities for play, sport, and physical activity to children and youth of all abilities. Play is viewed as a vehicle to enliven the human spirit and to promote optimal development.  By working with international and/or Canadian partners, students undergo a meaningful learning experience that enhances their global education in a variety of areas (somewhat dependent on site location) including: culture; the cultural dimensions of play, sport, recreation, and physical activity; issues of child poverty; globalization; the effects of tourism and sex tourism; and the rights of the child as well as the rights of persons with a disability. Play Around the World began in 2001. 

  1. What first got you interested in “Play Around The World” and why?

The former Director and Founder, Jane Vallentyne was a colleague and friend. From the start of the program (2001) I was a supporter and always attended student fundraising events along with the public presentations. There was always something about the program that not only resonated with my work in the Faculty teaching children’s movement activities, but also aligned with many of my values regarding global citizenship and service learning. 

  1. What has been your greatest highlight since being involved with “Play Around The World”?

Perhaps the greatest highlight, among many, would be the expansion to our Cambodia placement site in 2009 – 2010. Personal connections to this country make the work we have established there especially rewarding. 

  1. What do you think the future of play looks like? How does “Play Around The World” support what that looks like?

It is very encouraging to see the profile of play in Canada beginning to rise to the platform it deserves. The Child’s Right to Play as outlined in the UN Convention on the Right of the Child is starting to catch the attention of many provincial and national organizations and small pockets of play advocates are spreading the declaration of the importance of play in the lives of children and adults alike. Play Around the World, as a not-for-profit organization, supports local initiatives by planning and implementing Playdays with agencies such as the YMCA or City of Edmonton as well as special events such as National Child Day celebrations. Alumni of the program are often called upon as ‘play leaders’ to facilitate sessions with children and families. Our main contribution to supporting the future of play is in the form of ‘time and talents’. 

Thank you for all that you do to promote the value of play Mary Ann!