Support Play Trailblazers Like These When You Support Giving TuesPLAY!

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This Giving Tuesday, consider donating to Giving TuesPLAY! The support we receive on Giving TuesPLAY helps to fund our wonderful grant winners. These winning projects are trailblazers in the world of play, and we need your help to get them going!

One of our 2016 Action Grant winners was The Playworker Project with Megan Dickerson from The New Children’s Museum.  These incredible Playworkers pictured here are now fully trained in play!

Museum Playworkers are people you might see in Museum galleries.  They are professionals trained in “playwork”: a practice that originated on adventure playgrounds in the United Kingdom. The Museum Playworker’s role is to observe what is happening at the Museum and respond in ways that create an environment in which all can play.cardboard-chaos-1 cardboard-chaos-5 museum-playworkers-2-0

Recently, the Museum created an indoor adventure playground called “Cardboard Chaos” as a prototype for big things that will be coming out in January.

GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, November 29, 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!!

To support projects like The Playworker Project and other awesome programs and the development of play, be sure to donate on Giving TuesPLAY – Tuesday, November 29! We can’t wait to share the future of play with you!


How Do College Students Play?

“How do you rec?” is a question students at Clemson University are frequently asked by campus recreation. Everyone recognizes that recreation looks different depending on who you are – some people love team sports while others pursue solitary activities. As a campus recreation employee, I am asked about this a lot, but in my opinion, there is a better question we can be asking college students, and that is “how do you play?”

College is a time full of transition for many. Not quite adults, but no longer children. Incredibly busy with coursework, but stuffing spare moments full with social time. What about the breaks in between? So many students get burnt out from trying to do too much too fast. What if students began to intentionally devote their down time to play?

I’m lucky – my major is parks, recreation, and tourism management. We have play incorporated into a lot of our classes. Last week, we had a project due in one of our courses called a heritage skill. You had to teach yourself how to do something from before the industrial revolution. Our professor was adamant that we were not creating an arts and crafts project. While we were skeptical about this at first, we soon realized he was right. What we were doing was hands on learning: playing with new materials, discovering skills and strengths we never knew we possessed. I built a backpack frame for this assignment, and while it was incredibly time consuming, it was not draining like the homework I have online in other classes. This was fun! I had the world as my oyster to collect resources and create something to be proud of.

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Even those in more hard-science majors can find time to work play into their schedule. One of my friends is a computer engineering major with a 4.0 GPA, which is impressive for any major, but especially so for one as challenging as hers. She schedules time every Friday to go slacklining with her friends. They string a tether between trees on campus and tightrope walk with the focus as if they were balancing across the Grand Canyon. This combination of imagination and physical activity helps her stay grounded during her long weekdays of classes.

Most of my play occurs outside. I have four day weekends and try to use as many of them as I can to go on trips in the area. Whether it is a day long hiking trip or a full weekend of climbing and backpacking, I feel completely refreshed after playing in the wilderness. Going somewhere new sparks the creativity in me as I wonder what is around the bend in the trail. When I stand on top of overlooks, I think about all the people who have been there before me, and try to imagine what it was like to be the first person to see everything.

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Often I lament that there are not adult-sized playgrounds, but really, nature provides the perfect playground for everyone. I climb trees, I scramble down cliffs, I swim in freezing mountain water. The opportunities are endless, and there is always something to challenge you and push you outside of your comfort zone. And nothing can quite compare to coming home, jumping in the shower, and snuggling into bed knowing that you’ve had a day well spent giving your body and mind just what they needed: a little bit of play.

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We all have something to learn from each other, and the topic of play is no exception. So next time you have the chance to chat with a college student, ask them how they play. It could spark a conversation that benefits you both!


Halloween-Inspired October #WePlayChat Explores Imaginary Play

weplaychat-halloween2016Mark your calendar for our Halloween inspired #WePlayChat on Monday, October 31 @ 11:00am EST. Join Play Ambassador, Dr. Heather von Bank, chair of the Department of Family Consumer Science at Minnesota State University – Mankato, for our chat on Imaginary Play!

 

Here are some of the themes we’ll be chatting about:heather von bank

  • What are your favorite childhood memories of imaginary play? And why?
  • Why do children create imaginary friends?
  • How do “imaginary friends” help children?
  • Is imaginary play on the decline?  Why or why not?
  • What (if anything) can be done to provide opportunities for imaginary play?
  • What was your favorite Halloween costume?!

#WePlayChat is our new monthly Twitter Chat series.  #WePlayChat-ers to date include teachers, playground organizations, play advocates and other play enthusiasts from coast to coast as well as from Canada, Australia, Denmark and the UK – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag (#). This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with similar interests.  To be a part of our chat, be sure to search for #WePlayChat and follow the live stream of tweets.  Then respond by including the tag #WePlayChat

We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through these #WePlayChats.  We are trying them at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in the conversation around the value of play. This FREE professional learning opportunityis a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from the across the globe.

Remember that this month we will explore IMAGINARY PLAY with our guest co-moderator, Heather Von Bank.

 


September #WePlayChat Explores Cultivating Play Environments

Join us Wednesday, Septetwitterchat1mber 28 at 9:00am EST as we welcome Ryan Fahey to our #WePlayChat on cultivating play environments.  Ryan Fahey is an advocate for school health, physical literacy and play. He is one of our strong Canadian play ambassadors with a background in Health & Physical Education.

With our 2017 Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play coming this spring, we want start the conversation and learn about your expertise and experiences in this area oRyan & Riof play!

Here are some of the themes we’ll be chatting about:

  • What are the necessary ingredients to cultivate play environments?
  • What are some barriers to cultivating play environments?
  • Is it important for communities to take leadership initiatives in cultivating play environments? Why or why not?
  • In the future, what ways will we be able to cultivate play environments?

#WePlayChat is our new monthly Twitter Chat series.  #WePlayChat-ers to date include teachers, playground organizations, play advocates and other play enthusiasts from coast to coast as well as from Canada, Australia, Denmark and the UK – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag (#). This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with similar interests.  To be a part of our chat, be sure to search for #WePlayChat and follow the live stream of tweets.  Then respond by including the tag #WePlayChat

We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through these #WePlayChats.  We are trying them at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in the conversation around the value of play. This FREE professional learning opportunityis a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from the across the globe.

Remember that this month we will explore CULTIVATING PLAY ENVIRONMENTS with our guest co-moderator, Ryan Fahey.

 


Back to School Edition of #WePlayChat this August on Recess

The next #WePlayChat on Twitter is Tuesday, August 23 at 2:00pm EST.  This “Back to School” Twitter chat will be on “The Importance of Recess” with co-moderator Debbie Rhea of the LIINK Project.

twitterchat1Dr. Rhea and the “Let’s Inspire Innovation ‘N Kids” (LIINK) team have been making headlines with their incredible work to get more and more frequent recess in the daily school schedule. Their successes in Texas elementary schools have gone viral!

Recent news from across the country shows a growing trend in recognizing the value of recess:

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Join us for this FREE professional learning opportunity and connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from the across the globe from the comfort of your own environs.

 


Nickelodeon brings PLAY to Kids Choice Sports Awards

kcsaNickelodeon, who we team up with for the annual Worldwide Day of Play, showed our executive director Stephanie Garst that they bring play to everything they do!  Last month Stephanie was invited to witness the Kids Choice Sports Awards first-hand with other Nick partners.  “Nickelodeon takes play to the next level!” says Garst. “They have celebrities playing silly games against each other and everyday kids doing some epic challenges!  I loved seeing everyone playing and just plain having fun!”

Check out some of the PLAYful highlights of the night:

 


Next #WePlayChat is Inspired by the Summer Olympics – Sport and Play

The next #WePlayChat on Twitter is Tuesday, July 26 at 2:00pm EST. On the eve of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we’ll be taking a close look at the twitterchat1relationship between sport and play.

Founder of the modern Olympic Games Pierre de Coubertin famously said: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” But if the most important thing is not winning, shouldn’t we just play?

This month’s guest co-moderator will be Mark Cooper.  Mark has spent twenty years working in and around sport and play. Born in the USA and raised in the UK, he brings unique insights into the Olympics, having served the International Olympic Committee as head of communications for the Olmark cooper - ju;y 2016 chatympic Games. As an adventure play and wild play advocate, Mark has run weekly forest school sessions for for his five year-old son’s classmates and is currently creating a loose parts environment modeled on The Land in Wrexham, where he watched in amazement as six and seven year olds taught his son how to make a grilled cheese sandwich over an open fire. Having worked on joined up national policy initiatives for sport and play, Mark is acutely aware of the tensions between the kind of formal sport championed by the Olympic Games and informal play so precious to kids’ development.

Here are some of the themes we’ll be chatting about:

  • Are formal sport and informal play incompatible?
  • Are parents being sold a reasonable balance of formal sport and informal play?
  • Are there any lessons for informal play in the way formal sports are packaged?
  • As they introduce sports like skateboarding and surfing to the program, can the Olympics become more playful?

This next chat is part of our new monthly Twitter Chat series.  #WePlayChat-ers to date include teachers, playground organizations, play advocates and other play enthusiasts from coast to coast as well as from Canada, Australia, Denmark and the UK – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag (#). This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with similar interests.  To be a part of our chat, be sure to search for #WePlayChat and follow the live stream of tweets.  Then respond by including the tag #WePlayChat

We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through these #WePlayChats.  We are trying them at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in the conversation around the value of play. This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from the across the globe from the comfort of your own environs.

Remember that this month we will explore the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SPORT AND PLAY with our guest co-moderator, Mark Cooper.


Next #WePlayChat is All About ADVENTURE!

The next #WePlayChat on Twitter will explore Adventure Play on Wednesday, June 15 at 4:00pm EST.twitterchat1

 

This month’s guest moderator will be Reilly Bergin Wilson, a co-founder and board member of play:groundNYC, a new adventure playground in New York City. play:groundNYC is the first true adventure playground in New York City in over 40 years. Staffed by playworkers, play:ground allows for play with loose parts, hand tools, earth, and reclaimed materials. In the tightly managed urban landscape, having a dedicated space for free play like play:ground helps young people develop confidence, decision-making power, and a sense of ownership of their environment.

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Reilly Bergin Wilson of play:groundNYC

 

Here’s a glimpse at what we will be chatting about:

  • What are the defining principles of adventure play and does it differ from other kinds of play?
  • How do we increase public awareness of the principles of adventure play?
  • How can we get local parks departments to invest in playworkers rather than play equipment?
  • How can we integrate and apply the principles of adventure play to settings outside of “adventure playgrounds” (e.g. schools/home schooling, museums, child-friendly city policies)

This next chat is part of our new monthly Twitter Chat series.  #WePlayChat-ers to date include teachers, playground organizations, play advocates and other play enthusiasts from coast to coast as well as from Canada, Australia, Denmark and the UK – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag (#). This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with similar interests.  To be a part of our chat, be sure to search for #WePlayChat and follow the live stream of tweets.  Then respond by including the tag #WePlayChat

We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through these #WePlayChats.  We are trying them at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in the conversation around the value of play. This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from the across the globe from the comfort of your own environs.

Remember that this month we will explore ADVENTURE PLAY with our guest moderator, Reilly Bergin Wilson.


How I PLAYED During My First Sabbatical

The Story of How the Midwest Play Conference Came to Be

heather von bank
I love my job. Not many people can say that with a straight face, but I can. After my 6th year of working as a professor at Minnesota State University – Mankato, the opportunity came to apply for my first sabbatical.  When asked about my sabbatical plans a question mark seemed to loom over my head.  I love teaching and working with students, but what else could I possibly do that would provide me with the same rewards that I get while being in the classroom? Then my lightbulb moment occurred.  lightbulb

I wanted my sabbatical project to be meaningful for my own research and academic interests, but I also wanted the project make an impact on my community. I’ve been attending the US Play Coalition Value of Play Conference every year for 5 years. I’ve had the opportunity to meet playful passionate people, learn about national and international efforts to promote play and found countless ways to improve my teaching and scholarship through professional development practices. I wanted to replicate the formula and create a regional conference in partnership with the US Play Coalition, to bring the message about the importance of play to individuals in the Midwest.  Why the Midwest?  Besides the fact that I live here, there are so many educators and professionals who are passionate about play but were not familiar with the US Play Coalition, particularly in this region.

So…the first ever regional US Play Coalition conference will be held June 25th in Mankato, Minnesota. The Midwest Play Conference will feature Lisa Murphy, a motivational midwest play logospeaker who has years of experience working in early childhood settings, who encourages teachers, parents, and community members to be messy and playful in working with children. The conference will also feature 20 presenters who will be speaking on a variety of topics like nature play, play in early childhood classrooms, ideas for bringing nature inside, and ways to support teachers and their professional development with playful methods. The Midwest Play Conference was designed to reach out to caregivers, parents, community members, and recreation, parks and leisure services professionals, but will be beneficial for anyone who values and supports play.  By attending the conference, attendees will gain a greater appreciation and understanding of local and regional efforts to support play. Who knows, maybe it will be your chance to create a regional conference next!


Next #WePlayChat is MORE than Play…it could be a $50 gift card to your favorite toy store!

twitterchat1The next #WePlayChat on Twitter will be on Wednesday, May 18 at 2:00pm EST.  Our partner Genius of Play will be our first guest moderator for the chat on “It’s MORE than Play!”  Plus one lucky #WePlayChat participant will win a $50 gift card to his or her favorite toy store!

According to Genius of Play’s Anna Yudina, they are “very excited to be the first ever #WePlayChat guest moderator! Our TIA_GOP_blue-orgmission is to raise awareness about the vital role of play in child development. Play is so much more than fun and games – it is essential for children to reach healthy physical, cognitive, social, and emotional developmental milestones. The partnership between the Genius of Play and the US Play Coalition is seamless because of the shared vision to promote the value of play. We look forward to having the conversation with parents, educators and play advocates about the benefits of play and how to encourage more of it.”

Here’s a glimpse at what we will be chatting about:

1.      What challenges do parents face today in letting their kids go play?
2.      What types of play activities help kids process emotion? (Hint: click here)
3.      In your opinion, what’s the biggest benefit of play?
4.      How do you encourage mixed age play?
5.      The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids spend how much time playing each day? (Hint: click here)

This next chat is part of our new monthly Twitter Chat series.  #WePlayChat-ers to date include teachers, playground organizations, play advocates and other play enthusiasts from coast to coast as well as from Canada, Australia, Denmark and the UK – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag (#). This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with similar interests.  To be a part of our chat, be sure to search for #WePlayChat and follow the live stream of tweets.  Then respond by including the following tags for our May chat #GeniusofPlay #ItsMoreThanPlay #WePlayChat

We love sharing the voice of play on Twitter through these #WePlayChats.  We are trying them at different times on different days to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in the conversation around the value of play. This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from the across the globe from the comfort of your own environs.

Remember that this month “It’s MORE than Play” with our partner Genius of Play!