Now Accepting Nominations for
2019 Outstanding Researcher
and Youth Practitioner Awards

The U.S. Play Coalition is now accepting nominations for its 2019 awards program, recognizing outstanding play research and youth practitioners.  First awarded at the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play, this new awards program honors exceptional individuals each year.  The winners not only receive a physical award, but also have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR LIFE.  Deadline for nominations is 11:59pm EST on December 15.

Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

The Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research honors its namesake, the contemporary father of play advocacy.  The award recognizes someone for a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play.

“Joe Frost has been an influencer for our organization’s work as well as for the world of play,” said Stephanie Garst, executive director of the U.S. Play Coalition. “This award is a fitting tribute.”

Frost is the Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. He is known across the world for his more than 30 years of work on early childhood and children’s play environments. Past president of both the Association for Childhood Education International and International Play Association/USA, he is the author or co-author of 18 books and numerous publications and has also served as a consultant for playgrounds worldwide.

Frost was influential in the creation of the U.S. Play Coalition, serving as a steering committee member since the coalition’s beginning in 2009. He served as a keynote speaker that year at the coalition’s first conference – then called the Summit on the Value of Play –and has been an honorary chair for each successive conference.

YLI Youth Development Practitioner Award

The U.S. Play Coalition teamed with Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute for the Youth Development Practitioner Award. The award recognizes outstanding performance in the creation and implementation of youth development programs or services. (The nominee does NOT have to be affiliated with Clemson University.)

“There are many deserving practitioners across the nation, and our goal with this award is to bring recognition to this field of service,” said Stephen Lance, executive director of the Youth Learning Institute.


Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

The US Play Coalition is now accepting nominations for its second annual Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.  This award is given annually in recognition of a body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play. The 2019 award winner will be named at the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play in Clemson, SC.

The inaugural Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research was presented to its namesake – Joe L. Frost, the contemporary father of play advocacy.  “Joe Frost has been an influencer for our organization’s work as well as for the world of play,” said Stephanie Garst, executive director of the U.S. Play Coalition. “The creation of this award is a fitting tribute.”

Frost is the Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. He is known across the world for his more than 30 years of work on early childhood and children’s play environments. Past president of both the Association for Childhood Education International and International Play Association/USA, he is the author or co-author of 18 books and numerous publications and has also served as a consultant for playgrounds worldwide.

Frost was influential in the creation of the U.S. Play Coalition, serving as a steering committee member since the coalition’s beginning in 2009. He served as a keynote speaker that year at the coalition’s first conference – then called the Summit on the Value of Play –and has been an honorary chair for each successive conference.

The 2018 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research was presented to Dr. Olga Jarrett, Professor Emerita of early childhood/science education at Georgia State University, evaluator of an NSF project in Belize, and a past president of The Association for the Study of Play and the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research.  Deadline for nominations is December 15, 2018. The 2019 winner will be notified in mid-January and recognized at the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play at Clemson University, March 31-April 3, 2019.  The winner will have conference fees paid, hotel accommodations and up to $500 in travel to attend the Play Conference.

The Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research

Purpose:
This is to be awarded annually in recognition of an individual’s body of exceptional research that has enhanced and expanded the study of play.

Evaluation Criteria:
The basis for selection will be the degree to which the nominee has achieved an exceptional research contribution as evidenced by publications, patents, citations, or other criteria deemed important by experts in the field. Outstanding research contributions can take a variety of forms including, but not limited to, theoretical advances, experimental results, development of programs and tools.


November 28th #Weplaychat Featuring Maryland’s Own, Patty Stine!

Join us on Wednesday, November 28th at 12:00pm EST as we welcome co-moderator Patty Stine of Pure Play Everyday Inc. out of Maryland to our #WePlayChat on “Engaging Volunteers at Play Based Events”.

Patty Stine began her professional career in promoting play as a child delivering play structures manufactured by her family business with her parents. Since then she has worked as a play environment designer, preschool teacher, and child care, professional trainer. She learned through all of this that play has the power to positively influence the self-image and development of children. Patty also serves as a US Play Coalition Play Ambassador. Patty’s commitment to demonstrating simple ways in which children and youth can experience maximum benefit from their play is contagious and we are grateful to have her perspective as she drives our November #weplaychat!

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

Q1: What are the elements (time, space and materials) of a “play based event”?
Q2: Who can/should be invited to volunteer at your play based event?
Q3: What are the benefits of having volunteers at your play based event?
Q4: Are there policies or forms you need to have in place before hosting your “play based event”?

#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.


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.   Check out 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!


October 22nd #Weplaychat with Play Ambassador & Educator Gina Ruffcorn

Join us on Monday, October 22nd at 9:00pm EST as we welcome co-moderator Gina Ruffcorn of West Harrison Community School to our #WePlayChat as we discuss, “Learning While Moving: Incorporating Play & Motion Into The Classroom.

Gina is a Skype Master Teacher Founding Member, Skype Master Teacher Mentor, and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. Gina also has been honored with ambassadorships from Go Noodle, Spelling City, Kahoot and Pen Pal Schools. She has a Bachelors Degree from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa and a Masters degree in literacy and 21st Century Technologies from the University of Nebraska in Omaha. She currently teaches a 5th grade self-contained classroom at West Harrison Community School in Mondamin, Iowa where she also serves as the Technology Integrationist for her school district.

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

Q1 What are your favorite ways to incorporate movement and play into your school/work days?

Q2 How do you tie-in play and movement within your curriculum standards?

Q3 How do you give your students voice and choice in activities?

Q4 What tips and tricks do you have for incorporating movement during transition times?


#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.


US Play Coalition partners
with Nickelodeon for the
15th annual Worldwide Day of Play

Nickelodeon is inspiring kids to embrace the transformative power of play and lead active lifestyles with its annual Worldwide Day of Play on Saturday, September 29.

2018 marks the 15th year of Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play (WWDoP).  Once again, the US Play Coalition is a partner with Nickelodeon for this important and FUN-omenal endeavor!  This year, the US Play Coalition helped to craft the official 2018 Partner Playbook, a planning guide for grassroots play events, complete with tips on ways to celebrate play and play activity ideas from US Play Coalition and other national partners like Afterschool Alliance, Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Girl Scouts of the USA, Kiwanis; Laureus Sport for Good, National Fitness Foundation, NFL PLAY 60, Playworks, Police Athletic League, Special Olympics, The Aspen Institute and USA BMX.

So get inspired by WWDoP and plan a Play Day in YOUR community!  It doesn’t have to be September 29 – Play Day can be any day!  Visit http://www.worldwidedayofplay.com/ for tips on ways to celebrate play and the official 2018 Playbook to help plan your own Worldwide Day of Play activities.

Check out the US Play Coalition’s Road to the Worldwide Day of Play event…!

4th Annual Clemson Community Play Day
Saturday, September 22, 11:00am-2:00pm
Nettles Park, Clemson, SC

The US Play Coalition and Clemson Parks and Rec are teaming up again for our annual Clemson Community Play Day as part of Nickelodeon’s Road to the Worldwide Day of Play. Our friends from Clemson University, the Outdoor Lab and Pickens County First Steps will be there too!  Join us for inflatables, games, crafts, photo ops and more!!! There will be a designated toddler play space AND opportunities to get wet!!  It’s FREE fun for all ages! Pack a lunch and stay for a while!  GET UP, GET OUT & GO PLAY!


2018 Grant Winners Announced

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Play Conference, and we are proud to have awarded $52,000 in funding to date.   At the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play the new grant winners were announced.  The review process was challenging as we had a record number of outstanding submissions this year.

Each year a $3,000 research seed grant is awarded to a researcher or group of researchers who present empirical research at the play conference to support new, innovative and thoughtful work on the value of play.  This is seed funding in support of longitudinal or future research in diverse topics related to play, and grant recipients’ work reflects great potential for expanding knowledge in the field.

The 2018 Research Seed Grant was awarded to Muntazar Monsur, Ph.D., Nilda Cosco, Ph.D., and Robin Moore from NC State for their project entitled “Transitional play: Exploring the Play Value of Classroom Indoor-Outdoor Relationship of Space.”  The team plans to research transitional play and investigate the play value of transitional semi-covered space in an early childhood classroom to find out if it increases outdoor play time for children and increase children’s diversity in play.

In addition to the research grant, $1000 action grants are awarded to support creative and innovative proposals to engage groups in play or to educate about the value of play. This year we had two action grants, supported by funding from our Giving TuesPLAY initiative as well as from action grant partner the Foundation for Sustainable Parks and Recreation.

There were two projects that each received a 2018 Action Grant:

– “Loose Parts Play Builds Tight Communities” – Patty Stine and Cheryl Simpson, Co-Founders of Pure Play Every Day, Inc.

– “Unequal Playing Field – A Panel Discussion on the Importance of Accessing Equal Play for Girls and Girls of Color” – Starr Jordan & Nichole Myles from Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry


I Used To Think Play Was _________. But Now I Think Play Is _______

After teaching the “Benefits of Play in Child Development” course for the last 10 years, I have read this opening line in students’ reflection paper many times. This year my thoughts about play have also changed. I used to think that play was something I could teach my students but now I think that play is something we need to experience to be understood. The focus of my teaching has always been to help college students understand the benefits of unstructured play by helping me organize a Play Day; a community event where families play with used and recyclable materials. The students create the games or activities for the Play Day but this summer I changed the theme to an Adventure Playground. For those of you reading this, and have just crawled out from under a pre-fab playground set, an Adventure Playground provides children with loose parts and encourages them to engage in freely-chosen, child-directed play.

But…before I could host my first Adventure Playground Play Day, I had to rethink my own thoughts about what an unstructured Play Day would look like. Then I had to convince my students that an adventure playground was the way to go, and finally I had to pull it all together, and get the community to show up.

Thinking Playful Thoughts

Although it was not difficult to image what an adventure playground could look like, kids playing with ‘junk’, it took me some time to accept the idea that an unstructured Play Day could work. At the time I was reading a book about playful intelligence; in fact I had the pleasure of meeting the author at the US Play Coalition Conference in Clemson SC last April. I serendipitously pre-ordered the book by Anthony DeBenedet titled Playful Intelligence: The Power of Living Lightly in a Serious World, and discovered after getting home from the conference, and finding the book on my doorstep, that I had met the author at the conference.  Anthony’s book helped me to look at play from a different perspective, the adult point of view. As a university professor, I teach students about children development from a play perspective. My students will one day work with children as a teacher, counselor, occupational therapist, or child life specialist. I am also the parent of two kiddos who love to pretend that they are puppies. I am so steeped in teaching and advocating for children’s play that I forgot to consider adult play! Some of the key points in Anthony’s book helped me to realize that I needed to change things with my play class. That I can use my sense of wonder to rediscover and embrace my imagination; to think about a Play Day that could be different. I knew that play is for all people; I just had to remember that I also needed play.

I think she might be crazy?!

While the students were curious to learn more about adventure playgrounds, they were not sold on the idea, yet. One student thought I was a bit crazy to bring junk to a nature center and let kids play with boxes, pallets, and tubes. After reading parts of Penny Wilson’s Playwork Primer and talking with Morgan Leichter-Saxby co-founder of Pop-up Adventure Playground, the students were beginning to think of themselves as play workers instead of event planners. The role of the play worker is to provide the loose parts and allow children opportunities for risk and child-directed. However, moving to the play worker mindset takes some practice. The students who worked at daycare centers and summer youth programs, had a “safety first” mentality. Students realized they did not have to rush to help children at the Play Day; that in fact they should think of themselves as a resource and not as a remedy. Students appreciated our conversation with Morgan, and were fascinated at the scenes from the documentary “The Land.” They were completely surprised at the level of trust the play workers had with the children as we watched the kiddos use knives, build fires, and scale trees. One student reflected, “Now I know that by telling a child to be careful in the middle of their play, it restricts their play, and I’m not going to do that.”

If you build an adventure playground, they will come?

When I first started hosting Play Days I would make a flyer, post them around town at different businesses and childcare facilities, and hope for the best. Within the last 5 years, I have noticed that the more social networking sites that I posted my event to, it has increased the attendance at the Play Day. I always contact local media outlets to promote the event, however, even after I tell my students about my efforts, and encourage them to post to their social media pages, they are still unsure if anyone would show up. However, it always works! About 60 people came to the Adventure Playground Play Day. Not only was the kiddy-pool filled with mud a favorite, the children were eager to paint their toes, legs, and faces. The parents appreciated the chance for their children to get messy without having to worry about cleaning up the space, that was our responsibility.

The students were concerned about the mess afterwards, however they noted that it was a mess worth cleaning up. They suggested that for “next time” I should warn students about the mess. Although I do plan to give the future student a heads-up, I also want them to experience the Play Day in their own way. If someone had told me, 15 years ago, after I helped my colleagues Joyce Hemphill and Laura Scheinholtz arrange a Play Day, that play would be the focus of my research, advocacy, and teaching philosophy I would never have believed it. You cannot warn people about some things in life, you just have to let them experience it for themselves.

 

About the Author

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.”


August 21 #WePlayChat:
“Playable Infrastructure”

Join us on Tuesday, August 21 at 9:00am EST as we welcome co-moderator Meghan Talarowski of Studio Ludo to our #WePlayChat on “Playable Infrastructure.”

Meghan is the founder and director of Studio Ludo, a non-profit dedicated to building better play through research, design and advocacy. She has degrees in architecture and landscape architecture, over fifteen years of experience in the design field and is a certified playground safety inspector. Her research focuses on how the design of play environments impacts physical health and social behavior. She has presented at conferences for the American Society of Landscape Architects, Child in the City, the International Play Association, The Association for the Study of Play, and the US Play Coalition. She was a winner in the 2016 international Play Space design competition, a winner in the 2016 Kaboom Play Everywhere Challenge and a finalist for two projects in the 2015 Knight Cities Challenge.

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

Q1: What kinds of play memories do you want your kids to have? Is there anything keeping those experiences from happening?
Q2: How would you define playable infrastructure? 
Q3: What infrastructure do you encounter each day which supports play?
Q4: What does the future of “playable infrastructure” look like?

#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.


Meet Joyce Hemphill,
the “Queen Of Play”

Hello! This is Joyce Hemphill, and I am one of guest bloggers for the US Play Coalition.

So who am I? Many of my colleagues refer to me as the “Queen of Play.” I think of myself as a Play Advocate – someone who promotes the value of play. Simply put, I am passionate about play. AND I want others to be equally enthusiastic about play.

My background in and expertise on play comes from two sides – my personal side as the parent of two sons, now grown, and the professional side as a professor of child development. The mom side has 28 years of hands-on experience watching my sons. I was fascinated by the ways they learned about their world and gained an understanding of who they were through their various adventures in play.

The professional side of me holds a doctorate in developmental psychology and almost 30 years of college classroom experience teaching infant and child development as well as cognition and learning. While at the University of Wisconsin-Madison I developed and taught a course on the Importance of Play in Child Development. The course included a service learning component whereby my students and I offered a “PlayDay,” a community play event.

After retiring from UW spring 2012 I began writing “Playing from Scratch” columns for the US Play Coalition and co-authored The Power of Playful Learning (2014) with Laura Scheinholtz and Heather Von Bank. In addition, I started giving workshops for teachers, parents, families, youth groups, and care providers on ways to create playful learning activities. These hands-on experiences have been complemented with my involvement with the Coalition, as well as the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play, The Association for the Study of Play, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Construction Junction at Madison PlayDay

As a guest blogger I will share my thoughts on the different types of play, the various benefits of play, and the way play changes as a child grows and develops. Included will be tips, suggestions, and helpful information for parents and care providers. I also hope to increase my understanding of play from your questions and your insights of children’s play behaviors. So until next time, I leave you with a quote from American poet and essayist, Diane Ackerman, who said, “Play is our brain’s favorite way to learn.”  


YiP (Yours in Play)
Joyce