2018 Pre-Conference Institute –
A Playful Pedagogy: Introduction to Playwork

Linda Kinney, Manager of Playful Pedagogy at the North Carolina Zoological Park

Sunday, April 8, 11:00am-2:30pm (including half-hour break)
The Conference Center and Inn at Clemson University
Pre-registration required. ($25/conference attendee, $50/non-conference attendee)

This institute looks at the value of play and the importance of the adult in support of the playing child. Activities encourage deeper thinking into our role in children’s play as we explore open-ended ways to work with children using approaches employed in the playwork profession.

Opportunities for participants to discuss perceptions on play(ing), share ideas, and brainstorm ways to break down barriers to play will be included. We will also look at setting the stage for play; defining free play; assessing risk; and the effects of intervening in play.  The institute’s aim is to help participants strengthen knowledge, skills, motivation and confidence to inspire and support play, every day.

Activities will take place both indoors and out.

Topics covered:

What is Play?
We cover the broad definitions of play and interdisciplinary approaches to looking at play

The Intrinsic Value of Play
Value and benefits of play for all children (and adults)

Benefits of Outdoor Play
How outdoor environments benefits our well being

Definition of Playwork and the Playwork Principles
What is playwork? What does it mean to be a playworker? Some of the principles used in playwork practice and how those can be applied as a framework for working with children in the U.S.

Playwork Tools
Discovering – Affordances/Springboards/Loose Parts/The Play Continuum

The Play Cycle
Responding to cues between players and players and adults

Assessing Risk
The benefits of children and young people taking risks; weighing benefits vs. risk

Reflective Practice
The value of reflective practice

Learning Outcomes

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify the benefits of daily spontaneous and unstructured play, especially outdoors.
  • Recognize personal attitudes or feelings toward concepts such as unstructured play, risk in play, messy play, intervening in play, and the playwork principles and explore how those attitudes and feelings influence interactions with children.
  • Integrate the strategies presented to enhance their own support of playing children and young people.

This and two other pre-conference institutes are available to conference attendees as an add-on option for $25/institute.  Cost to non-conference attendees is $50.  Pre-registration is required.


The Conference on the VALUE of Play
The Play Conference, as it is commonly known, is an annual educational conference presented by the US Play Coalition. The latest research and practices in the field of play are presented at the conference, which brings together play researchers, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The three day event includes keynote and featured speakers, round tables on critical issues and trends, research symposium for academics, educational sessions for practitioners, action and research grant opportunities, PLAYtalks and PLAYinstitutes, networking, EPIC play breaks and more.