Summer PLAY Reading Review – Balanced and Barefoot

Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children, by Angela Hanscom

One of my all-time favorite TV shows as a child was Reading Rainbow.  The show, hosted by LeVar Burton on PBS, promoted the importance of reading and featured children reviewing their favorite books. As a kiddo, I dreamed about being on Reading Rainbow and telling everyone about MY favorite book. Thanks to the US Play Coalition, and their commitment to advance and promote play for people of all ages, I get the chance as a playful adult to provide a review of my favorite playful books! Angela Hanscom wrote the first book that I’ll review – Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children (New Harbinger Publications 2016).

Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of Timbernook, a nature-based developmental program for children, was inspired to write her book because of the interactions she had with the children and families in her practice. She noticed that kiddos were having problems with balance and coordination that were not typical for children their age. Due to her training and observations, she discovered that children’s opportunities for free play has been removed from children’s everyday lives.

Hanscom’s book advocates for unstructured outdoors play and promotes it as the most optimal way for children to development healthy bodies, minds, and social skills. 

In each chapter, Hanscom describes the benefits of play by addressing questions that many parents have about their children’s development such as “Why can’t my child sit still?”, “When is my baby ready to play outside?” and “Why is my child so emotional?” Hanscom wrote this book primarily for parents.  As a parent myself, I fully appreciated the reasons she provided for the crucial role that play has for children’s development of physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. However, this book is also important for individuals who do not have children or, more likely, have many children, such as educators, principals, superintendents, leaders at childcare centers, and child advocacy groups. Hanscom provides insight, examples and additional resources to show that playing outdoors can address and minimize behaviors like inattentiveness, lack of creativity, fidgeting, and aggression.

The book also outlines in detail the ways that children benefit from outdoor play particularly to support and build upper body strength, endurance, core strength, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, proprioceptive skills (i.e. awareness of the position and movement of the body), auditory senses, and sensory integration skills (i.e. allows us to make sense of stimuli). Hanscom is particularly interested in understanding sensory processing disorders; this occurs when children have difficulty making sense of external stimuli and using it to create a larger understanding of their world. Children’s senses are most aware when they are outdoors in nature, crunching leaves, feeling mud, dirt, or sand and smelling fragrant breezes. Hanscom fully makes the case that anything that can be done indoors can be moved outdoors.

Caregivers and educators may identify with information from the chapters depending on the age of the children in their lives. Personally, the sections devoted to school-age kiddos and the risk for their overuse of technology, limited opportunities for free play due to increased structured organizations, and many schools’ dwindling time devoted for recess stand out as significant. In Chapter 3, Hanscom makes suggestions about ways to allow children to be active outdoors without a lot of adult interference.  Adults, as we know, can suck the fun out of play! Hanscom spends considerable time addressing how decreased recess, in favor of increased classroom seat time, has negatively affected children’s cognitive development. The resources she provides in the book provides a guide for key points that any recess advocate would bring to a school board meeting and discuss why recess is essential to support children’s cognitive and academic development.

Hanscom is at her best when she helps parents address their fears about outdoor play. She takes a no-nonsense approach, addressing the ways in which parents create too many rules and overschedule their children’s lives to the point that kiddos do not experience the wonder of boredom and have few opportunities to daydream. She makes suggestions about ways to get outside as a family and get “back to the basics and focus on simplicity for the sake of creativity.”

Hanscom’s book should be on the bookshelf of every parent, grandparent, caregiver, educator, or administrator who values children’s time outdoors and wish to promote all the ways that play can affect children’s growth and development.

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


June #WePlayChat with AARP: “The Value of Play at All Ages”

Join us on Tuesday, June 25th at 11:00am EST as we welcome co-moderator Erwin Tan, Director Thought Leadership—Health from AARP to discuss the topic, “The Value of Play at All Ages.

Erwin J. Tan, MD, is a internist and geriatrician and the AARP Director of Thought Leadership—Health. While at AARP Erwin has developed the research that supports the health impact of perceptions of aging and age stereotype threat.

Erwin is currently working on healthy longevity and how play is important to health throughout a multi-stage life. Erwin previously served as the Director of Senior Corps at CNCS and as faculty a the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he was a co-investigator in the Baltimore Experience Corps Study. From 2003–2004, Erwin was a White House Fellow serving as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Erwin was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserves and was born in Indonesia and is a naturalized citizen of the United States.

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

Q1. We know play is valuable for children. How is it valuable for adults?
Q2. How is play related to health at all ages?
Q3. What healthy behaviors does play encourage at all ages?
Q4. How can we get more adults to play?

#WePlayChat is our monthly Twitter chat for anyone seeking to gain knowledge around the wide open field of play. Launched in 2016, our #WePlayChat participants come from 9 countries, spanning 4 continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.

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


PLAY Institute Approved for three hours of SC-CCCCD training credits

Play and Education from a Global Perspective

 

Sunday, March 31, 2019, at the Madren Center on the Clemson Campus from 9:00 to 12:30 (includes a 30 minute break).

This PLAY Institutes is essentially 4 workshops in one amazing 3-hour training that kickoff our conference programming on Sunday morning.

SPECIAL NOTE – This session has been approved for three hours of SC-CCCCD state-approved training credits will be provided in the Curriculum Category.

The goal of this institute is to provide conference participants with new ways to engage students of all ages in play-based, interactive learning both indoors and outdoors. Four presenters will provide current information on educational practices in the United States, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. Presentations will include educational slides, video clips and photos of school settings in the U. S. and other countries that model the use of nature and the outdoors within an educational context. Presenters will pose questions and encourage dialogue with the audience. Attendees will receive handouts and the format will be informal and interactive. Three hours of professional development for professionals in early childhood education and related fields will be available for participants.

The presenters are as follows:

Dr Tracey Hunter-Doniger, Associate Professor, College of Charleston – Her workshop is on Forest Schools in Germany and the Netherlands and focuses on promoting creativity and autonomy for preschool children in natural, outdoor learning environments.

Mary MacKenzie, M. ED, United Kingdom and the Institute for Child Success. Her workshop is on Creating Balance for Young Children and Childhood Unplugged, emphasizing ways to teach children in outdoor learning settings and to encourage physical activity in natural settings..

Dr. Dee Stegelin, Institute for Child Success and Professor Emeritus-Clemson University. Her workshop is An Overview of the Reggio Emilia Approach: Bringing the Indoor and Outdoor Learning Environments Together.

Dr. Heather Von Bank, Associate Professor, Minnesota State University: Project-Based Learning Strategies for All Learners. She speaks to the benefits of using project-based learning for both young children, adolescents, and adults as an effective way to engage them in real-world and highly interactive learning.

FOR OUR SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATORS THAT ONLY WANT TO ATTEND THIS INSTITUTE, WE HAVE A SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU!

Click the box below to register for this special  training for just $15/person.  That’s 3 hours of training for just $15/person!!

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


AIA CEU Approved Sessions Announced

 

For our many architect and design play friends, check out  the AIA CEU approved sessions at the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR LIFE, March 31- April 3 in Clemson, South Carolina:

 

Play for All: Providing Accessible and Inclusive Outdoor Play and Learning Environments – Ji Hyun Oh

The purpose of this presentation is to share the study that examined provisions of playground environments in a preschool setting and to discuss how outdoor play spaces and play elements can support or hinder rich play experiences for children with and without disabilities.

Reframing the Playground: European Play Precedents at Tulsa’s Gathering Place – Chelsea Hoffman, Teri Hendy, Peter Heuken

European playgrounds provided the inspiration for the largest public playground in the United States, Tulsa’s Gathering Place. This virtual tour of precedents and the Tulsa installations explores how European-style play innovations can find a home on this side of The Pond.

Taking the idea of an inclusive playground past the label to true Universal Design – Alice Reese and Hannah Linter

Today’s buzzword in play is the accessible playground. Is a true inclusive playground limited by this label and idea? A true inclusive playground takes accessibility several steps further towards universal design.  The key to universal design is an environment that enables versus a play piece defining the user as disabled.

Blank Slate: Design for Learning, Exploration and Physical Growth – Paul Russell

Today’s buzzword in play is the accessible playground. Is a true inclusive playground limited by this label and idea? A true inclusive playground takes accessibility several steps further towards universal design.  The key to universal design is an environment that enables versus a play piece defining the user as disabled.

Temple University Students Design an Eco-schoolyard for Play and Learning at Greenberg Elementary – Lolly Tai

Temple University landscape architecture students assisted in the design of the eco-schoolyard for play and learning at Greenberg Elementary School in Philadelphia. Through a comprehensive design process and collaboration between university and school, Temple students demonstrated how their role impacted the initial impetus for creating a healthy and green schoolyard.

Playable Infrastructure – Meghan Talarowski

How do we make space for play? Through places, policies, and people. This session will discuss the role of the designer, the developer, and the community in fostering play for all ages through real world examples and step by step recipes of successful “playable infrastructure”.

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


LACES Approved Sessions Announced

For our many landscape architect play friends, check out all of the LACES approved sessions at the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR LIFE, March 31- April 3 in Clemson, South Carolina:

  • Playable Infrastructure
  • What type of play is that? Categorizing play-types to objectively evaluate outdoor play environments
  • Socio-Environmental Barriers to Outdoor Play and Their Impact on Child Health Outcomes
  • Free play and alternative education pedagogies
  • Hardware or software in provisioning public play spaces for children: An analysis of forces at play
  • Action Research on Play for Life: The Making of Transitional Play Unit for Two-Year-Old Classrooms
  • Play for All: Providing Accessible and Inclusive Outdoor Play and Learning Environments
  • A Field-Testing Study on Outdoor Play Environments: Findings and Lessons Learned
  • Play by the River – Bringing natural, all-ages play to a new River Garden by the Mississippi
  • Learning through doing: The benefits to learning through planning for inclusive play.
  • I’m Tired of Saying “No”: Creating invitations for boisterous and adventurous play in the classroom
  • Sensory Inclusive Play: Partnering with KultcureCity to become Sensory Inclusive Certified
  • Reframing the Playground: European Play Precedents at Tulsa’s Gathering Place
  • Traffic Gardens and Dramatic/Challenging Play: Engagement as a Means of Facilitating Risk Competence
  • Developing Minds and Bodies Through Loose Parts Play
  • Naturalized Outdoor Learning Environments in Childcare Facilities: A Review of Policies in 3 States
  • Rotary PlayGarden: An Inclusive Play Success Story
  • Approaches for Evaluating the Design of Natural Playspaces to Sup-port Children’s Outdoor Play
  • The Role of a Playground Consultant
  • Inclusive Play Panel
  • “But, I have nothing to do in the park!” – Thinking about places for teens
  • Elevating Lifelong Play to Create Healthy Communities
  • Guerrilla Playfare:Lessons Learned From Parkour & Streetsport For Designing More Play-Friendly Cities
  • Taking the idea of an inclusive playground past the label to true Universal Design
  • Blank Slate: Design for Learning, Exploration and Physical Growth
  • Temple University Students Design an Eco-schoolyard for Play and Learning at Greenberg Elementary
  • How to Make Your Community Playful
  • Creating Playful Learning Communities
  • Lighting Play Environments for Today & the Future

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


2019 Lineup of PLAY Institutes Announced for 10th Anniversary Conference

We are thrilled to announce the 2019 lineup of PLAY Institutes for the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR LIFE.

These PLAY Institutes are 3-hour topic-specific trainings that kickoff our conference programming on Sunday, March 31 from 9:00am-12:30pm (includes a 30 minutes break).

Pick one of these great PLAY Institutes to start your Play Conference off with a bang!

Primal Play Playshop – How to Move and Play Like an Animal to Become More Human

Darryl Edwards, founder of HEALTH Unplugged, owner of Fitness Explorer Training and author of Paleo Fitness and Paleo from A to Z

Get fitter, stronger and healthier using the power of Primal Play. Regardless of your relationship with activity; whether you have a love affair with fitness and relish a new challenge or hate exercise but want to get passionate about movement again – you will gain practical movement skills that will assist you in performing everyday, recreational and extraordinary physical tasks more effectively using the power of play. You will also have a lot of fun doing it!

 

Play and Education from a Global Perspective

SPECIAL NOTE – This session has been approved for three hours of state-approved training credits will be provided in the area of Child Growth and Development.

Dolores (Dee) Stegelin – PhD, Professor Emeritus-Early Childhood Education, Clemson University and Research Fellow at the Institute for Child Success
Tracey Hunter-Doniger, PhD – Associate Professor-Art Education, College of Charleston
Mary Mackenzie – Senior Fellow, Institute for Child Success
Heather Von Bank, PhD – Chair and Associate Professor of Family Consumer Science, Minnesota State University-Mankato

The goal of this institute is to provide conference participants with new ways to engage students of all ages in play-based, interactive learning both indoors and outdoors. Four presenters will provide current information on educational practices in the United States, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. Presentations will include educational slides, video clips and photos of school settings in the U. S. and other countries that model the use of nature and the outdoors within an educational context. Presenters will pose questions and encourage dialogue with the audience. Attendees will receive handouts and the format will be informal and interactive. Three hours of professional development for professionals in early childhood education and related fields will be available for participants.

 

Respawn: A Gaming-Based Approach to Play That Optimizes Therapeutic Success Through Adaptive Engagement

Erik Johnson, OTR/L,  Chief Medical Officer for Operation Supply Drop & Warfighter Engaged, Consultant on new Xbox Adaptive Gaming Controller and Former Army Occupational Therapist

This session is designed to describe different emerging technologies available for use in therapeutic play and how the use of video games and technology can open an alternative world of play for people with disabilities.  It will also explore how industry is looking at inclusive design as it approaches game development and overall engagement with digital play.  We will discuss the evolution of the new Xbox Adaptive Controller and how Microsoft adopted the help of occupational therapists to create a product that caters to anyone with physical or cognitive impairments.

 

Play Risks: Exploring Research & Interventions

Ahren Hoffman, Director of Education & Jean Bailey, Educational Consultant
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

The importance of play for children is well documented and the research is universal on the benefits of play! It is the very fuel children use to explore the world, develop skills and practice emotions. It is the catalyst for adults to relieve stress, connect to others and be more productive. There are societal concerns and risks related to the increasing lack of play across the lifespan, especially in childhood. What is the toll on neglecting play?

This session will explore a timeline of play risks across the lifespan like technology, creativity, aging population and more. Attendees will gain insights through thought leadership and research as well as participate in discussions on play interventions to conquer risks and advocate for the power of play.

 

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

 


December 13th #WePlayChat on “Serious Play” with Darryl Edwards

Join us on Thursday, December 13th at 4:00pm EST as we welcome co-moderator Darryl Edwards out of the United Kingdom to our #WePlayChat on “Serious Play.”

Darryl Edwards, Founder of HEALTH Unplugged and owner of Fitness Explorer Training, is an international speaker, coach, nutritionist and author of Paleo Fitness and Paleo from A to Z.  He has been published in titles such as Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Elle, Men’s Fitness and featured on the BBC, ABC in Australia and the international documentary We Love Paleo.

After almost two decades working as a technologist in investment banking, Darryl transformed his health after adopting an ancestral model to well-being.  Darryl now advises people on maintaining a healthy lifestyle – amidst the epidemic of obesity and other chronic lifestyle diseases.

As the founder of the PRIMAL PLAY methodology, he makes activity fun, effective and engaging while getting individuals healthier, fitter and stronger in the process. He specializes in working with children from 4 to 94 – fitness for those who hate to exercise – as well as for those who love it but relish a new challenge. We are excited to have Darryl’s expertise leading the conversation!

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

  • Q1. What is Serious Play?
  • Q2. Does the emphasis on fun trivialise play?
  • Q3. What are the effects of ‘serious play’ on society?
  • Q4. Does ‘Serious play’ have a place in the workplace? Education space?

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

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


R&D Project Utilizing Play to Link Design with Classroom Pedagogy Supported by Giving TuesPLAY Funds

Giving TuesPLAY TODAY! When you donate to the US Play Coalition, you help to fund our Action and Research Grants for playmakers, communities and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement.

The 2018 Research Grant Winner is a project from the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University titled “Transitional Play: Investigating the play value of a transitional semi-covered space in an early childhood classroom.”  The goal of this research and development (R&D) effort is architectural innovation and associated evidence demonstrating the positive effects of childcare center indoor-outdoor transitional spaces on child and teacher behavior.  Initiated by the research grant, this proposed R&D project is expected to provide a gateway to creating the first viable prototype of a transitional play and learning space. Findings will be translated into design guidelines demonstrating how a transitional space can become an integral part of the outdoor learning environment and add pedagogical value to classroom design.

GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 27, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!)

Our 2018 Giving TuesPLAY goal is to fund at least one Research Grant and one Action Grant for our upcoming
10th Anniversary season.  We are on our way, thanks to a jump start challenge from our amazing steering committee. Now we challenge you! All funds raised on Giving TuesPLAY go to our grant fund – 100% of it!

To support great projects like this, make sure to donate to #GivingTuesPLAY TODAY!  You can help us provide action and research grants in 2019 with your Giving TuesPLAY gift!

 

 

 


Program Educating on Access to Play for Under-Resourced Children, Especially Girls of Color, Supported by Giving TuesPLAY Funds

Giving TuesPLAY TODAY! When you donate to the US Play Coalition, you help to fund our Action and Research Grants for playmakers, communities and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement.

One of the 2018 Action Grants will support access to play for under-resourced children in Charleston, SC, especially girls and girls of color.  Leaders at the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry in Charleston will host “Unequal PLAYing Field: A Panel Discussion on the Importance of Accessing Equal Play for Girls and Girls of Color.”  

The panel and related training will advance ideas and share information about disparities in access to safe, equitable play options for under-resourced children, especially girls and girls of color. Panelists are experts in the field of play, child development, and working with under-resourced communities and will offer first-hand knowledge about the challenges and opportunities to level the playing field for all children. The panel will target teachers, educators, advocates, parents and administrators to spark action on behalf of all Charleston’s children, especially those in under-served communities and communities of color.

GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 27, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!)

Our 2018 Giving TuesPLAY goal is to fund at least one Research Grant and one Action Grant for our upcoming
10th Anniversary season.  We are on our way, thanks to a jump start challenge from our amazing steering committee. Now we challenge you! All funds raised on Giving TuesPLAY go to our grant fund – 100% of it!

To support great projects like this, make sure to donate to #GivingTuesPLAY TODAY!  You can help us provide action and research grants in 2019 with your Giving TuesPLAY gift!

 

 

 


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

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday is #GivingTuesday. It is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, the US Play Coalition will be a part of #GivingTuesday, encouraging YOU to support PLAY by donating to our Action and Research Grants for playmakers and researchers whose work has the potential to improve and expand the Play Movement. We call it Giving TuesPLAY! (Get it?!) Big or small, your gift MATTERS!!

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Play Conference, and we are proud to have awarded $52,000 in funding to date.   The 2018 grant winners are utilizing play to help children build friendships, providing access especially for girls of color, and linking architecture design with classroom pedagogy.  Check out all of the projects our grants have supported over the years – https://usplaycoalition.org/action-research-grants

Our 2018 Giving TuesPLAY goal is to fund at least one Research Grant and one Action Grant for our upcoming
10th Anniversary season.  We are on our way, thanks to a jump start challenge from our amazing steering committee. Now we challenge you! All funds raised on Giving TuesPLAY go to our grant fund – 100% of it!

YOU can help us provide action and research grants in 2019 with your Giving TuesPLAY gift!  Join the global movement and donate on Tuesday, November 27! Big or small, your gift MATTERS!! We can’t wait to share the future of play with you!