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!


Latest Play Pulse Issue Now Online

play pulse logo

Is physical activity the “wonder drug”?  Is boredom good or not so good?  Could being in nature be a natural remedy for anger, fear and stress?  These are the topics addressed in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Play Pulse, a regular publication of the US Play Coalition that addresses play indicators and trends. The publication evaluates the upside and downside of each topic, along with practical tips for addressing these issues in everyday life.

Remember you can find all our publications on our webpage under the research and the communication menus.  Please spread these good works to your colleagues around the globe!


Next #WePlayChat is April 15

The next #twitterchat1WePlayChat on Twitter will be on Friday, April 15 at 2:00pm EST.  We will be chatting about “Lessons Learned at The Play Conference 2016.”  Hope you will join us whether or not you were at the conference!

This next chat is the fourth in 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.

Over the next few months we will continue to share 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.

Mark your calendar!  Our next #WePlayChat will be held on April 15th at 2:00pm EST.  And in May we will begin inviting guest moderators to  the chat – Genius of Play will be our first.

Find us on Twitter @USPlayCoalition


FREE CEUs Available to Registered Attendees at The Play Conference

US-PLay-Round-TablesWant a PLAYful way to earn CEUs?!  Come to The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play, April 3-6 at Clemson University.

Clemson University awards CEUs for your participation in sessions at The Play Conference 2016. All keynotes, featured and educational sessions are 45 minutes in length.  Participants can be awarded .05 CEUs for each of these sessions attended. There is no additional fee for CEUs at this conference.

Special registration options are available for schools, non-profits, and government agencies looking to send 4 or more delegates.  Contact Stephanie Garst for more information.

Register today for The Play Conference!


Twenty Times the Play Value

SmartPlayVenti_01BeltBridgeVenti

Two years ago, Landscape Structures, Inc. first introduced the Smart Play® design concept and it was a hit. The whimsical and modern designs of Smart Play: Motion 2-5 and Smart Play: Cube 2-5 have caught the attention of communities across the globe. Plus, playground planners have loved the smart design and efficient use of materials in the playstructures. And now we’ve expanded the line to include a design especially for 5- to 12-year-olds.

SquareLoopClimberVentiSmart Play: Venti™, which means “twenty” in Italian, packs 20 exciting activities into its compact size. Nets, slides, belts and climbers provide challenges that promote physical development and strategic thinking, while also creating hangouts where kids can take a break and connect with others. With multiple entry points and plenty of activities, this ADA-compliant playstructure can accommodate a whole class at once.

 

BeltHammockVenti

Learn more about Smart Play: Venti and see it in action by visiting playlsi.com/venti.

 

 


#WePlayChat A Rousing Success

twitterchat1Last month we held our first ever #WePlayChat on Twitter around the topic, “Why We Play”? Hosted by our executive director Stephanie Garst and our Play Ambassador Coordinator Ryan Fahey, the Twitter chat was a huge success and was the first of its kind on social media!  #WePlayChat-ers included teachers, playground organizations, play advocates and other play enthusiasts from coast to coast as well as from Canada and the UK – all tuning in to connect around why #WePlay through a series of open-ended questions.

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.

Here are some snapshots of conversations that happened during our groundbreaking #WePlayChat:

Jan chat Q3                             Jan chat Q1

 

Since then we had another thrilling Twitter Chat with THREE COUNTRIES represented – Australia and Canada joined our American Twitter-ers in a discussion on PLAY in the Community.

Over the next few months we will continue to share 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.

Our next #WePlayChat will be held on March 15th at 9:30am EST. We will be discussing different types of PLAY.  In April our chat will highlight lessons learned from The Play Conference.  And in May we will begin inviting guest moderators to  the chat – Genius of Play will be our first.

Find us on Twitter @USPlayCoalition


The ABCs of Play Conference 2016 Educational Sessions

The full detailed schedule is coming soon…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the Educational Sessions that have been accepted for The Play Conference: Rebooting Play.

 

 playing with boxes from Pat RumbaughDSCF1079PLAY Conference logoDSCF1349IMG_2667

Be sure to REGISTER TODAY because the early bird deadline for this PLAYful conference is Monday, February 15.

 

Adventures in Risk: Comparing injury rates of one population on two different school playgrounds

Advocacy & Awareness:  An overview of a 20 year project promoting SAFE, inclusive, and high quality outdoor play areas for children

All Grown Up! Emerging Trends with Play Past Childhood: Parkour, Parks, and Programming

An Action Grant Update – Providing Appropriate Play Experiences for Children with Autism

Art of Active Play: A Philadelphia Experiment in Promoting Health through Play

Bernheim’s Children at Play Initiative: A Community Approach to Change

Bestowing the Value of Play through Literacy, Science, and the Arts

Building a Community of PLAY: A Collaborative Educational Public Project

Child’s Play: Creating nature based outdoor play space in family child care settings

Come play with me!  Mutual benefits of intergenerational play between young adults and older adults

Connecting Children and Nature Through Art-based Environmental Education Programming

Designing Fitness-Focused Playgrounds: a stealth-health community wellness solution

Evolution Not Revolution: Working within the educational establishment to contribute to the play revolution

Family Homelessness and the Contextual Nature of Play

Forensic Playwork – the art of reading the signs of play

From Fascination to Torture: Children’s interactions with bugs during play.

From past to present: The value of play across the lifespan

Right To Play’s Play at the Core Program: Learning through the Power of Play

Healthy Way to Grow: Increasing Physical Activity in Early Care & Education Programs

Letting Inmates Run The Prison – Lessons from giving democratic free play to an inner city school

Making the Case for Play Policy and Practice: Evidence-Based Indicators

Mapping Playspaces in Springfield, Missouri

Nature-Based Child Centered Play Therapy

NaturePlay in your Parks and Community Centers

New Games:  The Foundation of Cooperative  & Non-Competitive Play & Games

The Genius of Play: Making Play a Priority for Today’s Busy Families

Physical Literacy is the Gateway to Play

Play as a key element in teaching and learning about the natural world

Play Everywhere: Making Play the Easy Choice

Play For All II: A Journey of Community Connection and Program Evaluation

Play Initiative: Before, During, and After School with Family and Educational Leaders

Play is Power: Play-Based Preschool in a Climate of Educational Emergency

Play is the Proper Prescription for Innovation

Play Strong: a medically-based physical activity program

Playing in School: The Principals’ Perspective

Playing in the park! A coalition workgroup’s efforts to increase youth play opportunities throughout Greenville County, South Carolina

Playing Is Learning: How Inclusive Playgrounds Support Language Development

Playing With Your Food: How an urban food desert is recovering from a natural disaster through healthy life-style choices and play

Playworking the Children’s Museum: Beyond Play-Based Learning

Playworks Pro

Promoting Physical Activity through Multigenerational Play

Reboot Summer Camp Healthy Habits

Recess Revolution – Rethink the Way You Play!

Pilot Study of an Outdoor Play Prescription Program for Children

Rethinking Play on Elementary School Grounds

Rethinking the Play (Recess) Privilege: Good Kid vs Bad Kid

Roots and Wings: Exploring intergenerational play

The Evolution of American Playgrounds From 1900 to 2020 and Beyond

STRESSED ADULTS, STRESSED CHILDREN: THE CONNECTION

Teachers perceptions of LiiNK project benefits for K-2 children

The (Seemingly) Unprepared Environment: A Montessori School’s Journey to Revolutionize Play

The BcubeTM Experience: Accelerating organizational performance

The Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone and other stories of the US Adventure Play Renaissance

The Importance of Good Design: A Comparison of Play in London versus New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles

The Kinesthetic Classroom: Why, How and When?

The LiiNK Project: The effects of play and character development on classroom behaviors and attentional fatigue in public school grades K & 1

The Need for Play in Psychological Rehabilitation

The Nexus of Policy and Play: A Reboot for the Future

The Play Cycle – the invisible thread that weaves through playing

The Power of Neighborhood Play

The power of play in developing emotional intelligence for leadership success

The relationship of added recesses, physical activity levels, and positive emotional states in K-2 aged children

Tinkering: Constructivist play across the life span

Understanding Preschool Teachers’ Beliefs about Outdoor Play and Naturalized Playgrounds and Practices for Young Children

Use Your Inside Voice and Your Outside Mind II: Playful Instruction and Classroom Management

Using an Outdoor Classroom to extend learning through play!

Using Books To Encourage Play: A Bibliographic Adventure

Using Play to Promote Physical Activity

We want you…to attend the US Play Coalition Mid-Western Play Conference

What’s wrong with a little PLAY in the work place?

Where Design Comes into Play: Improving access to play through innovation

Young Children & Playing With History

 

 


DANCEPL3Y For Life: Tracy Lockwood

This is the second in a series that our Play Ambassador Coordinator Ryan Fahey is doing to highlight people and businesses doing what we love…PLAY!  Since Ryan lives in Canada, many of his features will be on our neighbors to the north, broadening the global reach of our Play Coalition. Recently, Ryan sat down with DANCEPL3Y Educator Tracy Lockwood from Alberta, Canada to discuss what fuels her passion as an Educator and play expert. Here is what Tracy had to say:

 Outdoor Bio Pic1-TL 2015DANCEPL3Y Bio Pic-Tracy

1. Why do you think Play is so important?
Play is vital for so many reasons and it’s not just for children’s sake.  When people play, they use their creativity and at the same time develop their physical, emotional, social and cognitive capabilities. Specifically, play improves learning, communication skills, and allows for self-expression. Most of all, play is fun!
 
2. You are an educator and play advocate, what made you decide to get in to DANCEPL3Y?
My first DANCEPL3Y experience was extremely memorable.  I remember feeling so happy, energized and full of joy and confidence after just one DANCEPL3Y session.  Afterwards, I just knew that I had to bring this program to schools, athletic teams and recreation centres. In fact, in my first year with the program, I became an Instructor, then a Master Trainer!  I’ve never had any dance training as a kid, but I did play team sports my entire life. As a physical education teacher, exposing my students to a variety of activities is very important for not only a well-rounded program, but to make sure they were learning skills in many areas and dance is one of those important activities.  DANCEPL3Y is truly the best way I have taught dance in my 20+ years being a teacher. 
 
3. As a DANCEPL3Y Instructor and Master Trainer, what things do you like the most when teaching to others?
In my DANCEPL3Y instruction with kids and teens, I love seeing the change in their attitude from the beginning of class to the end.  I feel like I leave them better than when we started.  They are smiling and sweating and it feels great to have played a part in that.  In DANCEPL3Y, participants feel comfortable and confident in their abilities.  This is true for children, teens and adults.  As a Master Trainer, I have the opportunity to host DANCEPL3Y Kids Instructor Courses.  I find that even when I work with adults, the feelings that come from participating in DANCEPL3Y are the same. The comments are always overwhelmingly positive and that motivates me to continue. 
 
4. What forms of Play do you include in your day to day life? Why? (ex: creative play, water play, etc..)
I was drawn to and grew up playing every team sport in school.  To this day, I still enjoy “social/team play”.  I love going to fitness classes at my local gym.  In this way, being in a group setting is very motivating and I am able to challenge myself (while secretly competing with others 🙂 ).  Outdoor/nature play is a part of my life.  Hiking in the mountains, for example, is one way I enjoy the outdoors.  Lastly, I am so fortunate to be a DANCEPL3Y Instructor and Trainer where I can practice my play skills (creativity, social and physical play) at the same time that I’m “working”.  
 
5. If you could change one thing in the world that was Play related, what would you change and why?
Changing one thing is tough 🙂  My first “world changer” would be that I would expose and introduce every child and adult to DANCEPL3Y!  It has added so much to my life and those around me that I want everyone to participate in it.  My other “world changer” would be that every child has equal opportunities to play with access to nature play activities and safe outdoor play structures/experiences that will improve their creativity, socialization and overall physical, emotional, and cognitive development.
Thank you Tracy! You continue to do so much to add value to play in Canada and around the world. Your passion for movement and play in contagious. Keep up the good work!

#WePlay Twitter Chat Series Kicks Off January 22

twitterchat1#WePlayChat is a professional development opportunity from the US Play Coalition for Play Ambassadors, Play Advocates and Play Enthusiasts across the world who are seeking to gain knowledge around play. #WePlayChat also serves as a platform for you to engage and network with other organizations and individuals in a professional setting from the comfort of your own environment. We are bringing the play content to you completely free of charge.

#WePlayChat will be held monthly. Our first chat will be Friday, January 22nd from 2:00-3:00pm EST.

Our first topic will be:

Understanding why we play
1.Why do we think play is so important?
2.Why do we play?
3.What happens if we don’t include play in our daily lives?

Feel free to join the conversation on Twitter with @usplaycoalition and @wellnessrf by using the #WePlayChat on January 22nd. We look forward to connecting, sharing and networking with you as we reboot play in 2016!

 

Here are tips for how to be a great Twitter Chat participant from crememag.com

1) Do not wait too long to join the conversation. Sometimes we follow a Twitter Chat from afar without daring to integrate into the conversation. But don’t be afraid. Participants in Twitter Chats are often very welcoming, I recommend that you choose a topic that really challenges you to feel more comfortable to participate.

2) Once you have decided to get started, tell your subscribers that a big wave of tweets will be coming their ways because you are joining a Twitter Chat. In general, we do not like to see 20 tweets in a row from the same person, so it is best to prevent Plus, you can also share a trick that allows your users to hide the tweets that contain a particular hashtag.

3) Introduce yourself to the other participants with a short sentence so that other participants know who they’re talking to. Example: Hi, I’m Justine. I am a blogger and I look forward to talking with you! #WePlayChat.

4) When answering a question, do not forget the A1 for answer 1. The number changes depending on the question number (A1 – correspond to Q1). And if you decide to interact with just one person, do not forget the point before the @. This way the tweet will still appear in your feed and others can join the Chat. Unless of course you do not want your subscribers to follow your conversation!

5) Do not forget the hashtag at the end of each of your tweets (#WePlayChat)! This is one of the most important rules. It allows you to be a part of the big conversation. Plus, other participants will find you easily and will be able to read answers to your questions.

6) Respect the community by staying polite and positive in every situation!

7) You want to show that you agree with the tweet of a participant, a RT (retweet!) is simple enough. If you want to add a comment but you do not have space for it, retweet the tweet and answer it after, remembering to put the point before the @.

8) Do not hesitate to ask questions to the host of the Chat if you do not understand a question.

9) The Twitter Chat is not the time for self-promotion and sharing links to your platforms. The objective is to help each other, discuss and exchange while remaining on topic.

10) You will probably receive advices or tips. Consider having a notebook to take notes and to not forget anything that have been said.

11) You want to continue the discussion? Add the people you want to interact with via Twitter. It is also a good way to stay in touch and build relationships.

Have a great Chat ! See you on Friday, January 22 at 2pm EST for our #WePlayChat.