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.


June 30 #WePlayChat on Why Recess Is Essential When Schools Re-Open

Join us on Twitter Tuesday, June 30 at 6:30pm EST for the next installment of our monthly #WePlayChat.  We are honored to welcome Global Recess Alliance (GRA) to discuss Why Recess Is Essential When Schools Re-Open.

The Global Recess Alliance, a newly formed group of scholars, health professionals, and education leaders, argues that attention to recess during school reopening is essential. Recess is the only unstructured time in the school day that provides space for children’s physical, social and emotional development, which are essential for well-being and learning. When schools reopen, children will need space to heal from their collective trauma.

The GRA founders have combined their expertise to provide answers and concrete strategies for a recess that not only works under the current circumstances but paves the way for a fundamental shift in the ways schools approach recess.

Here are the questions we will be covering during #WePlayChat:
Q1. Why is recess necessary, especially now?
Q2. How can schools implement recess safely?
Q3. What strategies, policies, and practices can be utilized?
Q4. Who do recess advocates need to contact to protect play in schools?

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.


10th Anniversary PLAY FOR LIFE Shirt Available thru Aug 1

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND!  Order your limited edition 10th Anniversary play shirt through August 1!  Proceeds support our action and research grants!

Just in time for your summer PLAY days!  You can PLAY in style!!  There are 5 color options in unisex short or long sleeve AND youth short sleeve styles.

Go Up the Slide
Rough & Tumble
Jump in the Puddles
Take Risks
Play Outside
Make Believe
Roll in the Dirt
Run Your Fastest
Slide, Swing, Leap
Adapt, Imagine
Play for All
PLAY FOR LIFE

Order online before the campaign ends at 11:59pm EST on August 1!!

 


Panel of Experts to Discuss Why Recess Is Essential When Schools Re-Open

The Global Recess Alliance (GRA) is a newly-formed international collective of health and educational leaders that has provided evidence to suggest a quality recess is an essential component of an educational approach that considers the whole child. Given this, the GRA is urging school administrators to consider recess a critical priority as schools begin to reopen.

Hear from a special panel presentation by some of the founding members of the new Global Recess Alliance.

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

Recorded with a live Zoom audience on June 24, 2020.

As schools reopen, a supportive school recess can guide 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. With voices from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, the Global Recess Alliance panel (detailed below) will highlight practices and policies to ensure that recess provides a setting where inclusive, meaningful safe play occurs.

NOTE: This recorded presentation is included in our 2020 ONLINE Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR ALL content.

Panelists include:

Catherine Ramstetter, Ph.D.

Successful Healthy Children, Cincinnati, OH

Lead author of American Academy of Pediatrics’ Policy on Recess


William V. Massey, Ph.D.

Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Lead researcher on the Great Recess Framework

Debbie Rhea, Ph.D.

Professor and The LiiNK Project Director, Texas Christian University, Ft. Worth, TX

Author of Wrong Turns, Right Moves in Education

 

Olga Jarrett, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita, Georgia State University, Atlanta

Author of A research-based case for recess: Position paper (2019)

Brendon Hyndman, Ph.D.

Charles Sturt University, Australia

Author of Contemporary School Playground Strategies for Healthy Students

Anna Beresin, Ph.D.

University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Author of Recess Battles: Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling

 

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