Wednesday, March 27th #Weplaychat: “Recess is Essential For Developing Young Minds” with the Voice of Play!

Join us on Wednesday, March 27th at 7:00pm EST as we welcome co-moderator Kariann from IPEMA (The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association) and the Voice of Play, an initiative promoting growth in the quality and quantity of children’s free play and the use of playgrounds, Our March #WePlayChat will be focused on “Recess is Essential for Developing Young Minds”.

 

 

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

Q1. Does your school currently have recess? If so, how long is it and is it structured or unstructured?
Q2. What are the consequences of taking recess away from a child?
Q3. Do you think recess positively changes a student’s behavior? Why or why not?
Q4. Do you think recess helps students socially? What about academically? Why or why not?

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

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


February #Weplaychat with The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)

Please join us on Wednesday, February 27th at 12:00pm EST as we discuss, “Play Across The Lifespan” with Ahren Hoffman from ASTRA! Ahren is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and Certified Play Expert (CPE) and began her career in the toy industry in 2007. In her past role as Manager

of Industry Relations & Partnerships at the National Lekotek Center, Hoffman evaluated toys and play products beneficial for all children of all abilities, at AblePlay.org, a project of Lekotek. Hoffman also provided support services to members of the toy industry to share the developmental potential and possibility of toys and play products for children. These collaborations allowed Hoffman to contribute to the creation of multiple toy gui
des and have the opportunity to be published in a manual related to the benefits of sensory play. Hoffman is active in the lecture circuit presenting to organizations and professionals in the field of child development as well as within the toy industry creating presentations and webinars for retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives. Hoffman also regularly contributes to a variety of print and online publications to advocate for the power of toys and play. Hoffman received her Bachelors of Science in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Psychology at Central Michigan University.

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

  • Q1. Why is play across the lifespan so important?
  • Q2. What do play patterns look like across the lifespan?
  • Q3. What exactly is ‘play’ and what can you do to play across your lifespan?
  • Q4. What are the benefits of play for people of all ages and abilities?

#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 the value of PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.

January 24th #weplaychat: “Mental Health, Play & Whole Child Education” with Kim Hordal-Hlewka!


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Please join us on Thursday, January 24th at 6:00pm EST (4pm MST) as we discuss, “Mental Health, Play & Whole Child Education” with the incredibly enthusiastic Kim Hordal-Hlewka from Alberta, Canada! Kim Hordal-Hlewka is the Assistant Principal of Michael Phair Junior High that opened it’s doors in the fall of 2017. Kim has taught Kindergarten to Grade 9 Physical Education and was the Physical Education, Health and Comprehensive School Health Consultant for Edmonton Public Schools. Recently Kim spent four years as the Provincial Comprehensive School Health Consultant for Ever Active Schools. Kim is extremely passionate about the importance of connecting to the whole child through physical education, health, and well-being. In past Kim has presented for @EverActiveSchoolsAB, @AlbertaHPEC, @PHECanada, Early Childhood Conferences, New Teachers Convention,

International Physical Literacy Conference, National Healthy Schools Conference, and Shaping the Future Conference.

Kim firmly believes that mental health, play & whole child education are interconnected pieces. Let’s give her a warm welcome!

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

  • Q1. How does a whole child approach to play & education support healthy brain development? 
  • Q2. What are the necessary elements to taking a whole child approach to play? Education? 
  • Q3. How does whole child education and play prepare students for tomorrow? 
  • Q4. How do we know when we are supporting mental health through a whole child approach?

#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 the value of PLAY.  This FREE professional learning opportunity is a great way to connect with fellow play enthusiasts, teachers and experts from across the globe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.


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