November 30 #WePlayChat: Playing Through A Pandemic

Join us on Twitter Monday, November 30 at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT for the next installment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honored to welcome Meghan Talarowski to the main stage to discuss the topic, “Playing Through A Pandemic”.

Meghan is the founder and executive director of Studio Ludo. She has degrees in architecture and landscape architecture, almost 20 years of experience in the design field, and is a certified playground safety inspector. Her work has been featured by The New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR, Curbed, Landscape Architecture Magazine, and World Landscape Architecture Magazine. She is a steering committee member for the US Play Coalition and a board member for Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse. You can follow Meghan via Twitter @_studio_ludo.

Here are the questions we will be covering during this #WePlayChat:

Q1. How do we use play to spread joy, not the virus?

Q2. How can play support kids and caregivers during the pandemic?

Q3. How do we play together in times of social isolation?

Q4: What is your favorite way to play?

How can you participate in #WePlayChat?

Want to join the global conversation around the value of play!?  When it is time for the chat, login to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #WePlayChat and follow along on the “Latest” tab.  Feel free to like, reply, and retweet. Just be sure to include the hashtag #WePlayChat so your input is part of the feed!
____________________________________________________________________________________

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the field of play. Launched in 2016, it is the longest-running monthly play-based chat in the world.

Our #WePlayChat participants come from 33 countries, spanning multiple 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.

Learn more about #WePlayChat online by clicking here.


US Play Coalition Announces 2020/2021 Action & Research Grant Winners

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce the 2020/2021 recipients of its annual grants program, recognizing exceptional researchers, practitioners and play projects.

Play is important for people of all ages to be physically active, mentally alert, creative, and socially connected. Over the past decade, the US Play Coalition has been proud to have awarded $64,000 in action and research grants to a variety of projects. These investments have helped foster the continued growth of both a body of knowledge and community-focused play experiences that benefit thousands of people of all ages and abilities.

2020/2021 Action Grant Winners

Three $1,000 action grants are providing needed funding for projects that are facilitating play in specific communities and across the country.

Simone Chin, Ph.D., and Susan Caruso of Sunflower Creative Arts received the inaugural Joan Almon Legacy Action Grant, sponsored by Alliance for Childhood.  The action grant funds will support their project “No, They’re Not Too Old to Play! Bringing Loose Parts Play to South Florida Middle Schoolers.”  It is a Build & Play program for adolescents (ages 11-14) from South Florida’s economically challenged, underserved or vulnerable African American, Caribbean- American, and Hispanic population. Build & Play invites children to create, invent and build using their imagination and loose parts.

Ariana Brazier, CEO and co-founder of ATL Parent Like a Boss in Atlanta, was awarded an Action Grant for a Parent Lab PLAY DAY Series that aims to actively engage Black families and families of color, particularly from poor and low-income communities as well as teachers, school administrators and any individuals and/or groups who serve in their focus community.   The Parent LAB PLAY DAY Series engages participants in interactive games designed to connect the active body to brain development, and thus enhance cognitive learning experiences.  They use physically interactive games in and through our PLAY DAY Series to celebrate and promote opportunities for Black cultural expression.

Angela Kyle, Co-Founder/ Executive Director of PlayBuild in New Orleans, was awarded an Action Grant for her initiative “Super-Powering Play:  Mobilizing PlayBuild’s Volunteer Community Board as Play Ambassadors.”  The PlayBuild Community Board is a grass-roots volunteer network of committed and passionate community residents who manage the day-to-day operations and programmatic activities of the organization.  Established in the summer of 2019 the Community Board is the connective tissue between the organization and the Central City neighborhood where we work.   The Community Board members have no formal training in child development, education, or design disciplines, however, they have shown enthusiasm and willingness to acquire the skills and training that will make them more effective brand ambassadors for PlayBuild’s work.

2020/2021 Research Seed Grant Award Winner

William Massey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Oregon State University, received this year’s $3,000 Research Seed Grant Award for his project, “The recess initiative: A participatory action approach to increasing physical activity and self-regulation through recess in elementary schools.”

Dr. Massey’s line of research focuses on the intersection of play, physical activity, and child development. His current line of research is dedicated to understanding how recess quality impacts healthy development in elementary school-aged children.

Working through the OSU Psychosocial PhysicaL ActivitY (2PLAY) Lab, Massey says the overall purpose of the proposed study is to test the feasibility of a multi-component recess intervention to increase physical activity and self-regulation in elementary school children. In considering conditions in which recess might promote positive child-level outcomes, they are also examining the quality of the recess environment.


Founded in 2009, the U.S. Play Coalition is an international network of individuals and organizations that promote the value of play throughout life. The coalition is housed in Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management department, part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences.  Our membership comes from a cross-section of industries and professions – play researchers, educators, park and recreation professionals, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians, parents and more.  Learn more at usplaycoalition.org


“PLAY and Early Childhood” ONLINE Institute Available Through 12/30

The US Play Coalition and the Institute for Child Success are thrilled to present the recordings and materials from the “PLAY and Early Childhood” ONLINE Institute, a unique early childhood professional development program presented live on Zoom on October 3, 2020.

AVAILABLE ONLY THROUGH DECEMBER 30, 2020.

Presentations included with this 6-hour institute:

Workshop 1 – “Voices for Play: Advocating for Active Play”
Amity Buckner, M. Ed., Director, Pickens County Office of First Steps

Workshop 2 – “Integrating Play and STEAM Teaching into Early Childhood Classrooms”
Amanda Bennett, M.Ed., ABD, Lecturer in Child Development, College of Education, Clemson University

Workshop 3 – “Strategies for Supporting Preschool Children Who Have Experienced Trauma”
Jill C. Shelnut, Ph.D., Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, Clemson University
Jennifer Geddes Hall, Ph.D., LPC, ACS, RPT, Assistant Clinical Professor, College of Education, Clemson University

Workshop 4 – “Play and the Reggio Emilia Approach”
Dee Stegelin, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, Clemson University & Senior Fellow, Institute for Child Success

Workshop 5 – “Children Think Better on Their Feet Than in Their Seat”
Mary Mackenzie, M.Ed., United Kingdom, Senior Fellow, Institute for Child Success

Workshop 6 – “Playing with Vivian Paley’s Storytelling and Story Acting Approach”
Debora Wisneski, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Omaha


Registration Fee for the PLAY and Early Childhood ONLINE Institute

$30.00/person
$125 for groups of 5-10 from the same school or center*
*Please email us to get this rate or inquire about rates for groups larger than 10.


VIDEO: Panel Discusses Engaging State Policymakers with Outdoor Play

The Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook is a joint effort of the Children and Nature Network, the Meridian Institute, National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, Outdoor Alliance for Kids and North American Association of Environmental Education.

As part of the 2020 Online Conference on the Value of Play, representatives of each organization (detailed below) discussed the Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook, a tool to empower grassroots and grasstops leaders and educate state legislators on the value of outdoor engagement and play – with an aim to work together to pass legislation to give more youth and families more outdoor opportunities.

Panelists include:

Watch the full video of the panel presentation recorded live on Zoom, April 24, 2020: “Engaging State Policymakers with Outdoor Play: Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook”
Want to see more great online professional development content like this?!
Join the 2020 Online Conference on the Value of Play through December 15.
 

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 has been moved ONLINE for 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our first-ever online Play Conference! Learn more at usplaycoalition.org/playconference2020


US Play Coalition Announces Inaugural Fran P. Mainella Play Conference Scholarship Winners

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce the recipients of its inaugural Fran P. Mainella Play Conference Scholarship. This brand new scholarship program is named for our founder Fran P. Mainella, the first woman to serve as Director of the US National Park Service and one of America’s leading play advocates.  The scholarship was established to honor her vision, passion, leadership and playful spirit that founded and guided our organization in its first decade.  It will be awarded annually to new professionals, young professionals, and new-to-play professionals that could not otherwise attend the conference.

Meet the Inaugural Recipients of the Fran P. Mainella Play Conference Scholarship for the 2020 ONLINE Conference on the Value of Play:

Christine Alexander is executive assistant of Let’s Play America in Takoma Park, MD.  She believes that play is “a distinctly human experience, a happening that we can all understand and share regardless of background, age, ability, or point of entry.”  Christine believes strongly that play is NOT just for children.  “Despite all that we know about the value of play in human development, when faced with the observation and potential for judgment from our peers, adults will forego child-led play-based learning in order to avoid the chaos of free play. This blatant devaluation of play is what drives me to advocate for accessible free play opportunities for all stages of human development.”

Jennifer Beasley is a mental health practitioner at Cochran Elementary School in Louisville, KY.  According to Jennifer, play is essential to her work.  “In my opinion, helping children regulate their emotions and solve problems is best done through play.”  Jennifer hopes to learn to advocate for children’s play in educational systems and in public policy as well as learn how to further collaboration between the field of art therapy and the diverse disciplines represented by the Play Conference.

Alicia Chiaravalli is an environmental consultant and freelance designer from the Detroit area.  She is also continuing her education in a Design for Play program within Industrial Design.  As a student of play design, Alicia’s definition of play is constantly evolving.  “Play can take many forms, be deeply personal and often intra-personal, but the expression of play is irrefutably transcendent.” The Play Conference affords her the opportunity to connect with designers, artists, practitioners, historians, theorists and craftspeople who are similarly concerned with how play can contribute to the public good.

Tia Reid is from Stone Mountain, Georgia, where she is program director of At the Table Community Development Inc.  She is currently working on a project to intentionally integrate student-led play opportunities into the classroom of the Title One schools in her surrounding communities. As a former PreK teacher, Tia knows the value of play in the classroom, but in elementary schools she often faces feedback that questioned the challenge and rigor or lessons infused with meaningful play.  For Tia, the Play Conference provides the research and resources she needs “to educate and encourage my colleagues in the fight toward educational equity…I hope to learn valuable strategies for influencing challenging learning environments that fail to see the value of play.”

Lauren Willis is director of the Preschool at Holly Springs Center, a community effort to bring a quality play-based preschool program to rural Pickens County, South Carolina. “We know that play is valuable, because we see the benefits everyday, but we’d love to learn the Hows and Whys. I’m eager to learn more ways to help my staff develop and implement new ways to bring play to our students, and I feel that the PLAY Conference is an amazing opportunity to do this.”

 


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 has been moved ONLINE for 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our first-ever online Play Conference!

Join the 2020 Online Conference on the Value of Play through December 15.

Learn more at usplaycoalition.org/playconference2020


October #WePlayChat: Growing Empathy Through Nature-Based Play

Join us on Twitter Wednesday, October 28 at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT for the next installment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honored to welcome Daniel W. Hatcher to the main stage to discuss the topic, “Growing Empathy Through Nature-Based Play.”

Daniel

Daniel W. Hatcher is the Director of Community Partnerships at the Alliance For A Healthier Generation where he has served since 2008. At Healthier Generation, Daniel oversees out-of-school time partnerships and manages technical assistance services and resources for before and after school and summer programs as they work to achieve national standards for healthy eating and physical activity. Daniel has a BA in International Relations and a Masters of Public Health, both from Western Kentucky University. You can follow Daniel as he speaks across the country on the topic of healthy communities via Twitter @hatchdw.

Here are the questions we will be covering during this #WePlayChat:

Q1. How is playing in nature supporting your mental and physical health right now?

Q2. Why is it important to help children have playful experiences in nature?

Q3. Who can we work with to ensure all children have access to safe nature-play experiences?

Q4: As the weather changes, what are your favorite indoor nature-based activities?

How can you participate in #WePlayChat?

Want to join the global conversation around the value of play!?  When it is time for the chat, login to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #WePlayChat and follow along on the “Latest” tab.  Feel free to like, reply, and retweet. Just be sure to include the hashtag #WePlayChat so your input is part of the feed!
____________________________________________________________________________________

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the field of play. Launched in 2016, it is the longest-running monthly play-based chat in the world.

Our #WePlayChat participants come from 33 countries, spanning multiple 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.

Learn more about #WePlayChat online by clicking here.


September #WePlayChat: Finding Clarity In Play

Join us on Twitter Wednesday, September 30 at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT for the next installment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honored to welcome Dr. Angela Novak to the main stage for a conversation on “Finding Clarity in Play.” This #WePlayChat will also shed light on equity, giftedness, creativity, and social/emotional learning within the context of play.

Angela Novak, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and AIG Coordinator at East Carolina University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in education, focusing on assessment practices and gifted education. One of Angela’s research interests in play, in particular, the connections of giftedness, creativity, equity, and play. She has worked in public education in the gifted field as a classroom teacher, resource teacher, and central office support, as well as in the private non-profit sector of gifted education. She is an equity advocate and is a member of the Diversity Scholars Network, part of the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

Here are the questions we will be covering during this #WePlayChat:

Q1. In what ways do creativity or creative thinking and play overlap, either in research or practice?

Q2. When we think of meeting the needs of gifted students, we often think about challenge, rigor, or acceleration; how does play fit into gifted education, currently, and will this look different in the future?

Q3. As teachers and parents, how does equity influence our opinions of play?

Q4. What does your school, district, or state have for constructs like equity, critical thinking, or SEL and how can these connect with play?

 

How can you participate in #WePlayChat?

Want to join the global conversation around the value of play!?  When it is time for the chat, login to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #WePlayChat and follow along on the “Latest” tab.  Feel free to like, reply, and retweet. Just be sure to include the hashtag #WePlayChat so your input is part of the feed!
____________________________________________________________________________________

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the field of play. Launched in 2016, it is the longest-running monthly play-based chat in the world.

Our #WePlayChat participants come from 33 countries, spanning multiple 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.

Learn more about #WePlayChat online by clicking here.


VIDEO: A Tale of Two School Superintendents – A Conversation with Michael Hynes & Danny Merck

Keynote speaker Michael Hynes treated a small group of school administrators and leaders to witness an honest conversation with fellow school superintendent Danny Merck.  While Dr. Hynes oversees an urban New York school district of close to 6,000 students, Dr. Merck is superintendent in rural Pickens County, South Carolina, serving more than 16,000 students.

School Administrators Round Table:
A Conversation with Michael Hynes & Danny Merck

Both passionate play and recess advocates influenced by their respective experiences in Finland, these two superintendents pulled back the curtain on the challenges they are grappling with to ensure our children will still have play and recess when they return to school. They talked about their philosophies and discuss nuts and bolts about what they HOPE can happen while being realistic with their plans and considerations. It was an organic dialogue with aimed to “workshop ideas” that will help other school administrators and leaders struggling with the pressures of the pandemic slide and the desire to support the basic needs of our children.

Danny Merck, Ed. D., has 28 years of experience as an educator in South Carolina public schools. He is a former member of the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee and is in his fifth year as superintendent of the School District of Pickens County.  Dr. Merck returned from Finland in Fall 2018 and began implementing increased play and recess opportunities in several elementary schools in the district with impressive results in the classroom.  Wanting to give that professional experience to as many as he could in his district, Dr. Merck then hosted 14 Finnish educators from the Oulu University Teacher Training School, who offered professional learning to more than 700 teachers and administrators in his district over the course of 9 days.

Michael Hynes, Ed. D., is an educator, scholar, and thought leader. As a superintendent of public schools on Long Island, New York, it is his mission to spread the importance of a holistic approach to educating children. Dr. Hynes is also an Associate Professor at Long Island University/Post and Stony Brook University, teaching courses in School Law, Curriculum and Instruction and School Leadership and has published numerous articles and podcasts on school leadership and his belief in public education.  His article “Kids Need Play and Recess: Their Mental Health Depends on It” was #1 for 2018 in EDUCATION WEEK. Dr. Hynes is author of the newly released best-selling book “Staying Grounded: 12 Principles to Transform School Leader Effectiveness.”

Below is the full video of the conversation, recorded live on Zoom, June 18, 2020 – “School Administrators Round Table: A Conversation with Michael Hynes & Danny Merck.”

Please note that this conversation occurred before either superintendent knew what the plan for the new school year would be in their districts.  

 

Want to see more great online professional development content like this?!
Join the 2020 Online Conference on the Value of Play through December 15.
 

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 has been moved ONLINE for 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our first-ever online Play Conference!  Learn more at usplaycoalition.org/playconference2020


VIDEO: Schools Re-Opening? Why it Will be More Important Than Ever to Create a Play-Full Recess

As schools reopen, it is important to remember that recess is an essential component of an educational approach that considers the whole child.  A supportive school recess plan can benefit both students and teachers, back from months of interrupted routines, boredom, loneliness, family stress, anxiety and often a lack of physically active and social play.

As part of the 2020 Online Conference on the Value of Play, some of the founding members of the Global Recess Alliance (detailed below) shared practices and policies to ensure that recess provides a setting where inclusive, meaningful safe play occurs.

“Schools Re-Opening? Why It Will Be More Important Than Ever to Create A Play-Full Recess”

Panelists include:

Watch the full video of the panel presentation recorded live on Zoom, June 24, 2020: “Schools Re-Opening? Why it Will be More Important Than Ever to Create a Play-Full Recess”

 

Want to see more great online professional development content like this?!
Join the 2020 Online Conference on the Value of Play through December 15.
 

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 has been moved ONLINE for 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our first-ever online Play Conference!  Learn more at usplaycoalition.org/playconference2020


August #WePlayChat: Physically Active Learning With Author Michael Kuczala

Join us on Twitter Tuesday, August 25th at 8:00pm ET, 5:00pm PT for the next installment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honored to welcome Thought Leader, Change-maker, and Corwin Publishing Best-Selling Author, Michael Kuczala to the main stage for a conversation around Physically Active Learning. As schools, teachers, students, administrators, and parents all prepare for school in its various forms this fall, we are excited to have Michael take the main stage as an expert in movement and learning through active Play (AKA – The Kinesthetic Classroom).

Mike Kuczala is a thought leader on using physical activity in teaching, training, and learning. He has delivered keynotes, given presentations, and taught graduate courses on 4 continents. His presentations, courses, books, and videos have reached more than 100,000 teachers, trainers, corporate executives, and parents. He is also the co-author of the Corwin Bestseller and Association of Educational Publishers’ Distinguished Achievement Award-nominated, The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning through Movement, a book and philosophy that has changed the view of teaching and learning around the world.

Here are the questions we will be covering during this #WePlayChat:

Q1. Why is it critical for all students to be physically active during the school day?

Q2. What are the most effective ways to create a physically active classroom? 

Q3. What challenges might present themselves during physically active learning especially during this time of Covid19?

Q4. How do physically active classrooms look different in an elementary and secondary classroom?


How can you participate?
When it is time for the chat, login to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #WePlayChat and follow along on the “Latest” tab.  Feel free to like, reply, and retweet. Just be sure to include the hashtag #WePlayChat so your input is part of the feed!
____________________________________________________________________________________

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the wide-open field of play. Launched in 2016, it is the longest-running monthly play-based chat in the world. Our #WePlayChat participants come from 9 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.

Join us and contribute to the global conversation around the value of play!  When the time comes for our chat, jump on Twitter, and search for the hashtag #WePlayChat and follow along on the “Latest” tab.  Feel free to like, reply, and retweet.  Just be sure to include the hashtag #WePlayChat so your input is part of the feed!

Learn more about #WePlayChat online by clicking here.