September 27th #WePlayChat: “How Culture Affects The Definition of Play”

Join us on Thursday, September 27 at 12:00pm EST (noon!) as we welcome co-moderator Jace Ferguson from Universal American School in Dubai to our #WePlayChat topic on, “How Culture Affects the Definition of Play.

Jace’s journey into the world of education started when he was just in his grade 12 year at his rural high school in Alberta, Canada. It was here where Jace was first shown the power of play and purposeful Physical Education where he job shadowed his Phys Ed teacher for an entire semester. This inspired his passion for education and propelled him to work towards receiving his Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta in 2006, Masters of Science in Recreation and Sport from Ohio University in 2013, and being engaged in this wonderful profession for twelve years.

Throughout his career, he has had the amazing opportunity to share his passion for play and education with students from K-12, work and develop programs to grow curriculum and pedagogy as the Health and Physical Education Council VP in Alberta. Currently, has has the amazing opportunity to work with students and fellow educators as an international teacher since moving to Dubai and to the Universal American School in 2015 where Jace currently serves as the K-12 Physical Education Program Coordinator. He has also become more involved in the pedagogy and professional development realm through offering webinars through ConnectedPE, #Physedagogy and have even presented at the live conferences in Dubai, Switzerland and soon Hong Kong in November.

Outside of the profession, Jace is constantly searching for new ways to become physically active with his wife and there very active soon-to-be two-year-old daughter. This usually involves random play at the playgrounds, pools and exploring new activity options that become available to them as this wonderful city continues to grow and develop. It truly is an amazing experience and I would never trade it for anything in the world!

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

Q1. Which comes first, culture or play? Why?
Q2. How does play connect back with culture? Why is this important for healthy development?
Q3. How could cultural consideration impact the profession of education?
Q4. What does the future of Education look if Play is at the centre of culture and curriculum?

#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 5 continents – all tuning in to connect around PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.

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.


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.


July 24 #WePlayChat: “The Social and Emotional Benefits of Play”

Join us on Tuesday, July 24th at 7:00pm EST as we welcome co-moderator Tracy Lockwood, Owner of PLAY Education, to our #WePlayChat to discuss the topic, “The Social and Emotional Benefits of Play”.

Tracy Lockwood is a certified K-12 PE Teacher and has over 25 years of experience as an educator. Her teaching experience includes working with K-12 students in Alberta & Abu Dhabi. Tracy was employed as an Education Consultant for nearly 10 years where she facilitated hundreds of workshops for thousands of professionals at the local, provincial, national and international level. Her consulting role brought many opportunities to write, edit and review resources and curriculum for numerous organizations and government ministries. Tracy is a Master Trainer for the National Coaching Certification Program & DANCEPL3Y (dance-play). She has her Masters in Educational Leadership and has a passion for all things physical education, physical literacy and physical activity. Through her many years of teaching, coaching, and facilitating, she has discovered her greatest passion!  Today, Tracy runs a successful business, PLAY Education, and works with thousands of children, youth and adults every year around the world to empower and inspire them to move, laugh, connect, and smile, while learning new ways to be physically active and develop physical literacy.  Visit her website – www.playeducation.ca  Check out her new adventures on Twitter this Fall in Asia, where she and her husband will be living and working. Please join us in welcoming Tracy to our monthly #WePlayChat on Twitter. You can connect with her prior to the chat @PLAY_Educator.

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

1. What is Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and why is it important to be more intentional about teaching SEL skills?

2. When should we teach SEL skills? 

3. How can we teach SEL skills across multiple settings? 

4. What resources are available to support SEL through 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 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.


#PlayTakeOver By Brian VanDongen: Summer Camp Gives Kids The Time They Need To Play

Play is crucial in a child’s physical, social, and emotional development.  But most of the year, kids don’t get enough time to play. Summer camp needs to be a time where children can play.

Threats to Play

There are two major threats to play. The first threat is the amount of time children spend being physically active is decreasing. Compared to previous generations, children now spend more time sitting than moving. Schools are adding classroom time at the expense of recess and physical education. There also have been large increases in screen time use in children. A National Institute of Health study 2016 reported that the average child spends approximately five to seven hours per day using a screen. This is nearly – or more than – double the amount of time children used screens according to a 2007 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation study. An increase in sedentary time is a threat to play because most play requires movement and action.

A second threat to play is the lack opportunities for children to improvise or use their own resources for play. Parental concern for safety has led to an increase in the use of toys and games that have a directive nature because of the parental fear of letting children playing unsupervised. Many toys and games now come with a set of instructions or rules. This hinders creativity and the opportunity for free play. For example, if a child has a doll or action figure from a TV show, that toy has a pre-defined personality, story, and character. However, a generic doll or action figure has none, so the child is able to create his or her own story and character for the doll or action figure.

The Role of Play At Summer Camp

Because of the threats to play in a child’s life, play takes on a role of increased importance at summer camp. Camp allows children the time to play: while many activities at camp are organized and directed by the counselors, ample time for free play should be included in a daily summer camp schedule. Campers can create imaginative scenarios and explore together while the counselors either watch over them or actively engage in the child-driven play. Campers may ask their counselors to play a role in their scenario. Good camp counselors will take on that role and be fun!

Many parents are concerned – and rightfully so – about their child’s education and the lack of formal schooling during the summer months. However, free play is crucial to a child’s development. Higher levels of school adjustment, increased social development, and increased literacy skills are all benefits of free play. If children aren’t getting the amount of play they need during the school year,

While children’s opportunities for play and physical activity being reduced in their “normal” world, there needs to be ample time for play at summer camp so children can experience the benefits of free play.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “it is a happy talent to know how to play.” This talent is crucial for child development, and every child should have the opportunity to acquire the talent to play. There are countless benefits of play; however, many can fall into four main categories: physical, emotional, social, and cognitive.

In today’s increasingly sedentary world, play and physical activity help children become physically fit. Children learn movement control, acquire body-spatial awareness, develop fine and gross motor skills and increase flexibility and balancing skills when they play. In addition, when children are involved in physical activity, they build stronger muscles and improve bone density, improve heart and lung function and prevent obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol. Children who are physically active at a young age and enjoy that physical activity are more likely to become physically active adults.

The physical benefits of play are easily noticeable. However, there are internal benefits of play that are not so easily identified but that are crucial to a child’s development, such as emotional development. Play often times allows children to experiment with physical challenges – such as climbing and hanging; these opportunities encourages them to evaluate and take risks. By taking that risk and overcoming that challenge, children develop a sense of accomplishment, leading to higher self-confidence and self-esteem levels.

A key reason children look forward to play is the opportunity to spend time with their friends and the change to make new friends. These social interactions are important. In group play, children learn social roles and cultural rules and develop appropriate cooperation skills. Group play teaches children about real-life relationships; when children develop and test relationships, they learn self-control and negotiation skills. These skills help children prepare for a lifetime of interacting with others.

Experts agree that play is critical for a child’s brain development. In play, children develop language and reasoning skills. Play encourages independent thinking and problem solving abilities and often can improve a child’s focus. Children develop verbal skills, judgment and reasoning and creativity.

We are the adults we become because of our play experiences as children and the skills we learn when we play.

Good summer camps offer children to opportunity to play. Because at camp, and with play, children grow, explore, learn, and have fun – all without even realizing it.

 

About the Author

Brian VanDongen is a parks and recreation professional in Hillsborough Township (N.J.).  He has extensive experience working in parks and recreation and an educational background in Excercise Science and Physical Education as well as in Sport and Exercise Psychology.  Brian is a play ambassador for the US Play Coalition.  Check out his blog “The First Quarter.”

 

*Photo of children playing on bars courtesy of Brian VanDongen


Benefits of Roughhousing
(Rough and Tumble) Play

“Play is so integral to childhood that a child who does not have the opportunities to play is cut off from a major portion of childhood.” — Musselwhite

In recent years, roughhousing, or rough-and-tumble play has fallen out of favour. Rough-and-tumble play is when children climb over each other, wrestle, roll around and even pretend to fight. Often termed play-fighting it differentiates itself from real fighting, even if it looks aggressive, as there are visible displays of fun, smiling and laughing. I used to play wrestle with my brother all the time in my youth, it was so much fun!

Its reduction over time as a kid’s pastime has been blamed for everything from increasing levels of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) [2] to higher incidents of accidents during school playtime (recess).

This is a trend that by attempting to reduce risk in daily activities outlaws many types of adventurous play; for example, according to Dame Fiona Reynolds, master of Emmanuel College at Cambridge University, children are three times more likely to end up in the hospital now because they have fallen out of bed rather than out of a tree. 

THE RESEARCH
A wave of books and medical research papers are helping to publicize the physical, mental, emotional and social benefits of roughhousing.

One book on this subject is The Art of Roughhousing by Anthony T. DeBenedet, MD and Lawrence Cohen PhD. In it, the authors describe at least six different benefits of rough-and-tumble play for kids. First and most obviously, there is the physical aspect of roughhousing. These days, just about everyone knows that kids should be getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, although government recommendations tell us it should be far more activity for kids. A little rough-and-tumble play is one easy way to accomplish more movement minutes in our day. What better way to blow off a little extra energy than by chasing someone around the house or having a fake wrestling match in the middle of the living room. Even better, of course, why not take it outdoors?

Try some rough and tumble play…

 

NOT JUST PHYSICAL
The benefits of roughhousing extend well beyond just the physical. It can also lead to heightened social and emotional intelligence too. For one, kids can learn to differentiate between different facial expressions and body language. However, they also learn about taking turns and cooperation. Often, small groups of kids roughhousing together on the playground will divide themselves into teams to accomplish a particular goal, and that’s all about teamwork, leadership and problem-solving. It has also been suggested that play opens emotional pathways for the epigenetic construction of the social brain, [1] indeed a third of 1,200 brain genes evaluated by Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics at Northwestern University are shown to be significantly modified within an hour of a 30-min play session. [5]

Some researchers have also indicated that rough and tumble play builds moral and ethical character. Work by Stuart Brown demonstrates that kids with few opportunity for play are more likely to become anti-social and exhibit criminal behaviour when older. [4] This is where adults can play a huge role, since they can teach kids about safety, about looking after those who are weaker, and about using one’s strength in ethical ways. From an evolutionary perspective, it appears that roughhousing might have been an early way for members of a particular tribe to build bonds with each other and establish their overall likeability.

Perhaps the real overlooked benefit of rough-and-tumble play, though, concerns the mental and cognitive benefits. Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce, the authors of “Wild Justice”, have suggested that the unpredictable nature of roughhousing increases the number of connections between neurons in the cerebral cortex. This leads to improved cognitive performance, similar to the effects of dancing. Moreover, some neuroscientists have suggested that rough-and-tumble play increases the brain’s level of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This mysterious-sounding chemical is responsible for memory, logic and advanced cognitive skills, so the more, the better.

NOT JUST FOR THE KIDS
Of course, there are obvious benefits for adults who engage in roughhousing with their kids. Primal Play also encourages this in adult-to-adult games of movement too, why should kids have all the fun? Many adults lead mostly sedentary lives (i.e. sitting all day at the office and then all evening on the couch), so roughhousing encourages them to increase their activity level in a way that lets off some steam. Also, all of that physical activity can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. There’s nothing quite like shrieks of laughter from your kids to make other financial or social difficulties melt into the background. Try playing the Primal Play game Shoulder Barge with a friend and have some fun!

“When we roughhouse with our kids, we model for them how someone bigger and stronger holds back. We teach them self-control, fairness, and empathy. We let them win, which gives them confidence and demonstrates that winning isn’t everything. We show them how much can be accomplished by cooperation and how to constructively channel competitive energy so that it doesn’t take over.”
— DeBenedet and Cohen

As long as roughhousing follows basic safety rules and doesn’t take place too close to bedtime (when the body should be winding down), it can have significant benefits for both kids and adults. The good news is that the pendulum might finally be shifting back in favor of roughhousing and rough-and-tumble behavior.

 

About the Author

Darryl Edwards, is a Movement Coach, Natural Lifestyle Educator, nutritionist and creator of the Primal Play Method™. Darryl developed the Primal Play methodology to inspire others to make activity fun while getting healthier, fitter and stronger in the process.

Darryl is the owner of Fitness Explorer Training and author of several books including Paleo Fitness and Paleo from A to Z.  His work has been published in titles such as Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Elle Magazine, Men’s Fitness and featured on the BBC documentaries Eat to Live Forever and Doctor In The House.  His latest book, Animal Moves, is available now!

 

REFERENCES

[1] Panksepp J., “Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions.” New York: Oxford University Press; 1998a.
[2] Panksepp J., “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, psychostimulants and intolerance of childhood playfulness: A tragedy in the making?” Current Directions in Psychological Science. 1998b;7:91–98.
[3] Panksepp J., “The long-term psychobiological consequences of infant emotions: Prescriptions for the twenty-first century.”, Infant Mental Health Journal. 2001;22:132–173.
[4] Brown, S., “Play as an organizing principle: clinical evidence and personal observations. Animal play: Evolutionary, comparative, and ecological perspectives.”, Cambridge University Press; Cambridge: 1998. pp. 242–251
[5] Jaak Panksepp et al., “A novel NMDA receptor glycine-site partial agonist, GLYX-13, has therapeutic potential for the treatment of autism,” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.06.006.


June 27 #WePlayChat:
“Playful and Paleo”

Join us Wednesday, June 27 at 12:00pm EST as we welcome co-moderator Ashleigh VanHouten from Paleo Magazine to our #WePlayChat to discuss the topic, “Playful and Paleo.”

Ashleigh VanHouten is a writer, editor, Primal Health Coach, and host of Paleo Magazine Radio. She divides her time between Ottawa, Canada and New York City, and when she’s not reading about or interviewing authorities on health, fitness, and wellness, she’s working on personal goals like jujitsu and convincing her friends to eat organic meat. Learn more about Paleo Magazine and her podcast at paleomagonline.com; or, connect with Ashleigh on Instagram @themusclemaven or at ashleighvanhouten.com. Please join us in welcoming Ashleigh to our monthly #WePlayChat on Twitter.

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

1. What do the words, “Primal” and “Paleo” mean and how do they relate to play?

2. Why should play be considered as “paleo” or “primal”?
 
3. What are some great paleo/primal/playful activities anyone can try to positively effect your health?
 
4. What other ways can Paleo relate to Play?
5. Where can our followers go to learn more about paleo lifestyle, primal movement and 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 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.


May 29 #WePlayChat on Twitter:
“The Play Effect in Education”

Join us Tuesday, May 29 at 8:00pm EST as we welcome Jed Dearybury to our #WePlayChat to discuss, “The Play Effect in Education.

Jed Dearybury is 16 year veteran of education in the early childhood classroom in South Carolina, and currently Director of Professional Development & Communications for the Palmetto State Teachers Association (PSTA). During his classroom tenure, Jed received numerous awards. He was featured in GQ Magazine as Male Leader of the Year, met President Obama as the SC winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, and was named as a top 5 finalist for South Carolina Teacher of the Year because of his passion, love, and success in education. He eagerly seeks to promote public education in South Carolina and beyond. His goal: Equip, Encourage, Empower the teaching profession using creativity, laughter, and sparkle.

Here are the chat questions that will guide our conversation:

1. What are the most common myths you have learned about play in education? 
2. Can you share specific examples of  how you use play in your classroom and its effect on learning?
3. How can you learn about what types of play your students and children are interested in?
4. What is “your face of play” and how does it affect your daily life and your area of work?

 

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

April 26 #WePlayChat: “Reflecting On The Many Faces of Play”

Join us Thursday, April 26 at 12:00pm EST for our post-conference #WePlayChat, “Reflecting on The Many Faces of Play.”  Learn about some of the big ideas, the big learning, the big fun…and give input on our plans for the 10th anniversary conference in 2019!

Here are the chat questions that will guide our conversation:

1. What resonated with you the most from #PlayConf18? Can you provide specific examples?
2. What have you changed in your practice of supporting play as a result of #PlayConf18?
3. What was one unique story you want to share from #PlayConf18?
4. How can #PlayConf19 be even better as we celebrate our 10 year anniversary? 

 

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


March 19 #WePlayChat on Twitter: “Play in Nature and Passive Recreation Areas”

Join us Monday, March 19 at 9:00am EST as we welcome Brian VanDongen to our #WePlayChat as we discuss, “Play in Nature and Passive Recreation Areas.

Brian VanDongen, CPRP, is a nationally certified recreation and parks professional who has implemented transformational recreation programming for people of all ages and abilities. Beginning with working at recreation programs in high school, to supervising intramural programs in college, through to creating, improving, and managing entire recreational programs, camps, and sports leagues, Brian has a passion for physical activity, parks and recreation, and play.  He understands the importance of and works to provide access to safe and welcoming parks and the assess the needs of communities to engage children and adults in popular, wanted, and needed recreational programming. As a US Play Coalition Play Ambassador, he promotes the value of play throughout life and plays and important role in sharing knowledge and ideas to recreation professionals, educators, parents, and students.  He believes that the power of play can have a huge impact on everyone’s life. Brian is currently the Assistant Director of Recreation for Readington Township, a suburban community in central New Jersey.

Here are the chat questions that will guide our conversation:

1. What is a “passive recreation area?”
2. What are the benefits of playing in nature & passive recreation areas?
3. How can we encourage more play in these areas?
4. Where and how do you play in nature? 
#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 monthly #WePlayChat.  We have our chats at different times on different days each month to get the most involvement across our membership.  You will not want to miss them! Tune in and to join in to contribute to the conversation around the value of play.

February 27 #WePlayChat with
Tracey Gilmour: Loose Parts Play

Join us Tuesday, February 27 at 11:00am EST as we welcome co-moderator Tracey Gilmour from Alberta, Canada to our #WePlayChat to discuss Loose Parts Play.
Tracey works for Ever Active Schools as a School Health Facilitator, focusing on developing play and learning in the outdoors. A qualified teacher since 2006, Tracey has taught grades K, 2, 3, 5, 6, and has worked with large UK primary schools as part of the administration team. She specializes in developing outdoor nature-based play and learning opportunities, connecting children with nature, cross-curricular learning, experiential teaching and learning. She is currently focused on implementing Loose Play Projects in schools to support creative child directed play. Tracey is currently completing her M.Ed in Educational Leadership.

Since earning her undergraduate degree in International Development Studies, post graduate qualifications in education and special needs education, Tracey has lived and worked in England, Nepal and South Korea.

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

1) How can Loose Parts Play support child development?

2) How does directed play differ from other forms of play and why is it important?

3) What are the perceived risks associated with Loose Parts Play and are they worth it?

4) In what contexts can Loose Parts Play be best utilized? 

#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.