Featured Speakers & Sessions

Listed in alphabetical order:


Jen De Melo, VP of Org Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, Kaboom – “Supporting a Movement for Play & Healing in Uvalde”
Darryl Edwards, Founder, Primal Play Method – “Why Active Play Is the Best Form of Self-Care”
Ryan Fahey, Programs & Resources, Physical & Health Education Canada – “Move Think Learn - Using a Games-Centered Approach for Developing Fundamental Movement Skills w/ Children From K-6”
Susan Friedman, Sen. Dir of Publishing & Content Development + Jared Totsch, Staff Assessor – both from NAEYC – “Play in Early Child Settings: Agency, Equity, and Content”
Amanda Gummer, PhD, CEO of FUNdamentally Children & Good Play Guide (UK) – “The Importance of a Balanced Play Diet - Introducing the Play Pyramid”
Dr. Kimberly Johnson, Lecturer, Youth Development Leadership, Clemson University – “Learn to Love to Teach Again™ – with PLAY guiding the way!”
Julie P. Jones, PhD, Assoc Professor of Child & Family Studies, Converse University – “Growing Playful Communities: Lessons We Can Learn from Trees”
James O'Hagan, VP of Education Innovation, LeagueSpot – “Beyond Play: Elevating Educational Impact through Esports”
Peg Oliveira, PhD, Director, Gesell Program in Early Childhood, Yale University – “Learning to Play & Playing to Learn”
TreaAndrea Russworm, PhD, Microsoft Endowed Chair, Interactive Media & Games, U. of Southern California – “The Sims and Utopia: Playing for the Future”
Linda Smith, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Psychological & Brain Sciences, Indiana University – “Play is Like Story Building”
Michael Suk, MD, Professor & Chair, Musculoskeletal Institute at Geisinger Health System, Pennsylvania – “Health Considerations for the e-Athlete”
Eric Zimmerman, Game designer + NYU Arts Professor + co-founder of Gamelab + Institute of Play – “Making & Breaking Rules - Teaching Design through Play”

Plus dozens of other learning, engaging, networking and PLAY opportunities...

Educational Sessions are opportunities to share and discover innovative play strategies and applications. These sessions are interactive and aimed at practitioners. Educational Sessions are 45 minutes long including Q&A.

The Play Research Symposium is aimed at researchers and academics. It provides opportunities for a scholarly exchange surrounding play. Sessions will include several 8-10 minute presentations grouped by theme with a moderated Q&A to follow.

Poster Presentations will display throughout the conference to maximize visibility. The formal Poster Session will precede the closing PLAY Celebration Luncheon on Thursday, where presenters have the opportunity to speak to conference attendees about their poster display.

The MarketPLAYce is a special time to highlight entrepreneurs and small businesspeople attending the Play Conference.  It is an informal opportunity to promote your latest play-related book/service/product as part of the closing PLAY Celebration Luncheon and Poster Reception on Thursday, April 18.  Registered attendees who are interested can sign up online at

Conference Overview

Schedule at a Glance

TUESDAY, APRIL 16        
9:00am-11:30am – Educational Sessions 
11:30am-1:15pm – Keynote Panel + Lunch
1:30pm-3:30pm – Educational Sessions &
                                        Research Symposium
3:30pm-4:00pm – Pop Up Play Break!
4:00pm-6:00pm – Educational Sessions &
                                        Research Symposium
6:30pm-7:00pm – Newcomers Social 
7:00pm-9:00pm – Dinner + PLAY


8:00am-9:15am – Coffee Talk Round Tables
9:30am-12:15pm  – Educational Sessions &
                                        Research Symposium
12:30pm-2:15pm – Keynote Panel + Lunch
2:30-5:30pm – Educational Sessions
5:30pm-7:00pm – Billiards & Cosmic Bowling 

8:00am-8:45am – Morning Coffee Mixer
8:45am-9:15am – PLAYtalk
9:15am-9:45am – POP UP Play Break!
10:00am-12:45pm – Educational Sessions
1:00pm-2:30pm – PLAY Celebration Luncheon + Poster Presentations & MarketPLAYce

Conference Schedule 


Session Themes

All our sessions will be classified into the following themes to help attendees find the sessions that most interest them:

Play is a vital part of the learning equation, both in and out of the classroom. The faces of those learning while at play are some of the most engaging! Consider play as a vehicle for learning through both traditional and nontraditional settings including schools, camps, afterschool programs, museums, zoos, aquariums, parks & recreation departments, faith-based spaces, and more.

Play is a building block for healthy living. Examine health and physical activity trends related to play, healthy benefits of play, and the intersection of health and recreation to insure a healthy face of play.

The faces of play are often wet, muddy, and sun-glistened from hours spent outdoors. Focus on play in nearby and far away nature–backyards, parks, creeks, lakes, trails, wetlands, and beyond.

Play should be accessible, available, and open to all. Advance the field for play for all abilities, all shapes, all sizes, all colors.

Promoting play throughout life is our mission. Explore how adults (college-aged to retirees) play and how adults share and benefit from play with children.

Landscape architects, architects, designers, city planners, and civic groups are invaluable experts, practitioners and resources for PLAY. These sessions will be submitted for LACES CEU approval.

Play is changing! The Play movement is growing! Explore the latest in play- technology, social media, politics, policies, and more.

Play looks very different around the world. Share play practices, history, and culture from countries across the globe.

From play basics to play essentials. Share tips, trainings, techniques and tools for PLAY.

Continuing Education Units

Indiana University awards Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for your participation in Play Conference sessions. Details to come.

The Details

Location, Registration & Travel Information


Indiana Memorial Union
900 E. 7th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405



Registration Fees
Conference RegistrationEarly Bird (thru March 18)Regular (beginning March 19)
Full Conference$399$479
Full Conference - IU Faculty$299$379
Full Conference - Students+$199$279
Daily Rate*$249$299
Daily Rate - IU Faculty*$199$249
Daily Rate - Students*+$129$159
Daily Rate - Library Forum (Tuesday)*-$159
Guest Meal-$25/meal/person

Full Conference Rates include:
- Access to all headliner presentations, educational sessions, research symposium sessions, and more!
- Four meals - Tues lunch, Tues dinner, Wed lunch and Thurs lunch
- Refreshment breaks throughout the conference
- Post conference access to presentation handouts and conference photos
- Invitation to join closed LinkedIn and Facebook groups to connect with PLAY colleagues, share resources and engage around the VALUE of play year-round

*Dinner is not included with the Daily Rate but can be purchased separately as a Guest Meal if desired. 

+To qualify for the student rate, you must send a copy of your student ID to the Planning Committee at 

Registration is facilitated by the IU Office of Conference and Event Management Services. To contact them directly, call 1.800.933.9330 or email  


Travel Information

Flying – The closest major airport is Indianapolis International Airport.

GO Express Travel, 800-589-6004, travels between Indianapolis International Airport and Bloomington several times each day with stops at all three recommended hotels. They also have private cars and a shuttle to and from Chicagoland.  NOTE: All three conference hotels and the conference venue are stops on the Bloomington GoExpress shuttle to/from the Indianapolis airport.

Campus map
Visit IU’s interactive map to find buildings and parking.

Platinum Sponsors

IU Research & Creative Activity Conference Grant Recipient
Clemson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Gold Sponsors


Silver Sponsors

Playground Grass forever lawn

Bronze sponsors

Berliner Equipment for life