Sneak Peek of the 2022 IN PERSON Play Conference Sessions

(updated 2/14/22)

Check out this sneak peek of some of the amazing educational and research symposium sessions we have planned for the 2022 IN PERSON Conference on the Value of Play: THE NATURE OF PLAY, April 2-6 in Clemson, SC.

Below is an alphabetical list of some of the session titles.
The detailed conference schedule is coming soon!


  • AAA Play: Examining Play as The Linchpin to Learning
  • Active Play: What Role Did It Have in Our Evolutionary Past and How Vital Is It for Our Future?
  • Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie, Who’s Not Ready Holler Eye
  • Authentic Learning and Play Through Intergenerational Connections in Makerspaces
  • Being Mindfully Curious to Discover Our Inner Play Being
  • Bringing Kids Imagination to Life in Outdoor Play Through Augmented Reality
  • Built and Social Nature of Neighborhoods Impact Women’s Play
  • Coming To Our Senses: Envisioning Spaces for Play on A University Campus
  • Community Edinburgh (Inspiration from Scotland)
  • Contextual Play Hackathon – Creating Meaningful Play Solutions
  • Controversial Play: Weapon, Fantasy and Risky Play-Why They Are Important and How to Support Them
  • COVID Roadblocks Disrupting Play Opportunities: Fighting Back
  • Creating Ecosystems of Play: The Synergies of Systems
  • Developing A Love of Learning and Health Through Nature-Based Play Spaces
  • Don’t Throw It Away! Make Something and Play!
  • Earth Tones
  • Experiential Spaces as Immersive Playscapes for Adult Players
  • Exploration In Forests of Learning: Play-Based Ecosystems
  • Get Up, Get Out, And Play Naturally!
  • A Glimpse Beyond the United States: Considering the Trajectories of Play Via The ‘Land Down Under’
  • How Global PLAY Has Influenced PLAY In the Early Years of Australian Schools
  • “It Felt like Complete Chaos…at First” – A Student-Led Play Day with Non-Profit
  • Just Playing: Towards A Universal Ethic of Play
  • Körperkoordinationstest Fur Kinder (KTK): Assessing Motor Coordination Differences in Children Recess
  • The Meaning of Play and Its Implications for Equitable Design in Outdoor Urban Spaces
  • Mindfulness in a Bag – Bringing Social/Emotional Learning to life through Brown Bag Play
  • National Study of Playgrounds
  • Naturally, It’s Child’s Play!
  • A New Perspective on Urban Playscapes: A Case Study Method
  • Parent Motivations for Enrolling Young Children in Early Enrichment Programs
  • Park Ranger Emergency Response Training Needs
  • Play As Liberation: Exploring Self-Directed Education
  • Play Protocols: Maximizing Learning Through Play
  • Playcemaking: Designing Nature Playscapes with Children
  • The Playful Life: The Power of Play in Our Every Day
  • Playful Literacy Instruction: Making Learning Joyful and Culturally Responsive
  • The Playful Remake: Repurpose Tried and True Activities to Make Them Playful
  • The Power of Play Therapy
  • The Power of Quality Recess: Why You? Why Now? And How?
  • Recess Policy Implementation: Beliefs and Perceptions of Site-Based Decisions-Makers
  • Second Nature: Technologies Enabling and Enriching Play in the 2020’s
  • The State of Play: The State of Children’s Physical Activity and Access to Community Opportunities for Play in The U.S.
  • Supporting Health Equity and Environmental Resilience Through Green Playgrounds
  • Teaching For Social Justice: Honest Teaching of History While Building Community Through Playfulness
  • Teaching Off Trail
  • Time For a Reboot: Prescribing Natureplay for Emotional Wellness for Children, Teens and Families
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Equity and Play
  • What Did You Do in School Today? Developing Class Books Around Children’s Play Experiences.
  • YES, I Have An IEP! Climbing, Forts and Snakes: Risky Playing My Way to College, Career and Beyond!
  • You Can’t Fall from That: What National Playground Standards Could Learn from Childcare Regulations

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, educators, health scientists, architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, park and recreation professionals, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the U.S. and beyond. The 2022 IN PERSON Conference on the Value of Play: THE NATURE OF PLAY explores play across the lifespan, play in the workplace, play in the classroom and address universal issues of access, equity, inclusion and more.

The ABCs of the 2021 Virtual Play Conference Educational Sessions and Research Symposium

The full detailed schedule is coming soon…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the MORE THAN 60 recorded Educational Sessions and Research Symposium Sessions that will be core content for the 2021 VIRTUAL Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL, available online from April 1 through June 30.

As we prepare for our second online Play Conference, there is a renewed intensity to connect play advocates, educate our national and global community, support play research and publications, and truly fulfill our mission to promote the VALUE of play throughout life. We continue to incorporate phenomenal speakers and resources with unique opportunities for learning through play!



  • A Play-Based Literacy Program for The Professional Development of Reception Year Teachers
  • A Prescription for Play in Education
  • Access for All: Providing Equitable Hands-On Learning Experiences in A Digital World
  • All Ages, All Abilities, All the Time
  • Beyond Candyland: Learning Through Making Board Games
  • Big Body Play Powers A Child’s Learning Trajectory
  • Capture the Flag: How Traditionally Marginalized Residents Reclaim Urban Space Through Play
  • Circus Is an International Language
  • Crazy Games Workshop Explores Using Low Cost Materials Outside Normal Usage to Create Fun Learning
  • Designing Everyday Spaces for Children
  • Designing Hybrid Outdoor Play and Learning Spaces for All Ages
  • Eduspeak And Play: Surviving the Wolf at The Door While Keeping Play Alive & Well in Your Classroom
  • Equity and Play: Surviving and Thriving
  • Future of Play: Technology Integration
  • Healthy Communities, Parks and Splashpads
  • Hobby Horses—A Hobby, Sport or Pure Play? Feminine Debates on A Contemporary Plaything
  • Inclusive Playground Design:  A Case Study of Three New England Playgrounds
  • Intergenerational Play Within the Workplace: A Powerful Mechanism for Informal Learning
  • Legacy of Laughter; A Grandparent Playbook
  • Let’s Start With Play. Why Play in The Emergency Department Can Be Our Best Tool for Patients
  • Making Connections: People, Places, And Physical Activity
  • More to Say After Outdoor Play: Bookmaking and Storytelling with Children
  • No, They’re Not Too Old to Play. Bringing Loose Parts Play to South Florida Middle Schoolers.
  • Nonprofit, Let’s Play America, Hangs on During the Pandemic with Virtual Play Days & Handbooks
  • Paddle, Pivot, Pedal, Prance and Most of All…PLAY!
  • Parent LAB PLAY DAY Series
  • Parents’ Perceptions of Play Throughout the Pandemic and In the Social Justice Movement
  • Performative Play for The Project Based Learning Classroom
  • Play and Expressive Therapy Interventions for Enhancing Emotion Regulation
  • Play as Culturally Sustainable Family Engagement
  • Play Behavior of Children from an Isolated Area in Brazil: Body and Space as Cultural Expression
  • Play Frisco 2.0
  • Play Like Our World Depends on It: Using Playfulness to Engage Others in The Climate Emergency
  • Play on The Go: Tips for Developing and Using Prop Boxes
  • Play Programming During the Pandemic…. What Can We Learn?
  • Play, Politics, & Policy: Building a State-Wide Movement for Recess
  • Playground Design for School Communities – Moving Towards a Better Way
  • Playing in a Pandemic: Lessons from Virtual and Traditional Instruction in Early Elementary School
  • Pretend Play as a Tool for Development During Virtual Learning of Young Children
  • Prototyping: Play Applied
  • Ready Player One: Harnessing the Power of Activity and Fun Using A Digital Medium
  • Recess and Play Before and During the Covid-19 Pandemic
  • Reconsidering Solitary Play: Understanding Self, Place, and Nature
  • Reducing the Negative Impacts of Trauma Through Outdoor Play
  • Removing Invisible Barriers: A Design Call to Action from Families of Those with Differing Abilities
  • Sacred Play: An Ancient Contribution to Contemporary Play Theory
  • Shifting Play from Survival to Thrivival
  • Social Togetherness in a Time of Social Distancing
  • Soulful Play
  • Sustainability of Self
  • Teaching Off Trail
  • The Benefits and Uses of Collaborative Competition in the Classroom
  • The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Young Children’s Play
  • The Effects of a Multi Recess Intervention on Body Composition in Elementary School Children
  • The Importance of Failure in Play
  • The Push Play Project
  • The Rubber Shark Principle: How Play Is Bridging Our Relationship with Disability Inclusion
  • The Value of Adult Play Is All in the Design
  • Those Summer Days: Exploring Extreme Heat’s Impact on Children’s Outdoor Play and Physical Activity
  • Toy Activism Through Teddybears: Promoting Playful Resilience and Ludounity In Pandemic Times
  • Ways to Play the Virtual Way
  • Wordplay: How Silly Jokes, Nonsense Rhymes, and Secret Languages Thrive in Unstructured Play



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 2021 Virtual Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY IS SURVIVAL 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.

The ABCs of the 2020 ONLINE Play Conference Educational Sessions
and Research Symposium

The full detailed schedule is coming soon…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the Educational Sessions and Research Symposium Sessions that have been recorded for the 2020 ONLINE Conference on the Value of Play: PLAY FOR ALL.


  • Adapting Play for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities
  • Advocating for Risky Play
  • The All New Voice of Play Website: How to Maximize This Exciting New Resource
  • The American Association for Promoting the Child’s Right to Play – IPA USA Information Session
  • Applying a Task-Person-Environment Approach to Designing Play Studies
  • “As a parent, if I can…”: Parents’ Perception and Design of Children’s Out of School Time
  • Building an Outdoor Classroom Anywhere
  • Child play network influences on physical literacy in Mexican-heritage Colonias
  • Creativity and Outdoor Play – The recipe for all children
  • Designing Successful Play Partnerships:  PlayBuild + Tulane University
  • Determining obesity rates in children with multiple play breaks in schools daily
  • Documenting Children’s Play: Including the Child’s Voice
  • Empowering LGBTQ+ Youth Through Meaningful Play and Recreation Opportunities
  • Encouraging Time Outdoors in Naturalized Learning Environments in S. Carolina Childcare Facilities
  • Examining the link between recess quality and classroom behavior in elementary school children
  • Free Aquatic Play in a Controlled World
  • Furnishing for Adult Play: Developing a social play space for a multidisciplinary research community
  • Green Schoolyards : Neighborhood Amenity to National Necessity
  • Guide to Implementing Play Streets in Rural Communities: A Tool to Increase Active Play
  • How Principles in Play Connect to Pedagogy in Gifted Education and Talent Development
  • The Influence of Preschool Educators’ Beliefs About Play-Based Learning on Instructional Delivery
  • Is Your Recess Toolbelt Equipped?
  • Joining In: Parent Perspectives on Specially Designed Inclusive Play
  • Keeping the Recess in Indoor Recess: Creating Playable Spaces Anywhere!
  • Leisure & Late Adulthood: Examining the Benefits of Participation during Retirement
  • Local Sources for Play Space Materials and Labour – Its the Design that Counts
  • Lost Opportunities: How Teaching Interferes with Learning
  • Messy, Muddy, and Marvelous: Forest Schools, Education and Play
  • Movement & Learning: What’s the Connection?
  • Movement in Middle School – Application of the Transtheoretical Model for Physical Activity
  • Pedaling to Safe Play: Factors Related to Youth Self-Efficacy for Injury Prevention Bicycle Skills
  • Play and Family
  • Play ranging with the Hidden Children: Notes from the field
  • Play, Dementia & Alzheimers: Life and Fun Following Diagnosis
  • Playing the Eduspeak Speak Game: Tips on Aligning Lessons with Play Principles
  • PlaySchool:  How to Infuse Play into K12 Education
  • Raptors & Ruderals: What do we mean by ‘nature play’ in an urban environment?
  • Same Game, Different Play
  • Seniors and preschoolers design toys together: An intergenerational play project in Finland
  • Unstructured play in schools is linked to positive health benefits for teachers
  • #WePlayChat: How to Use Social Media to Drive the Value of Play in a Virtual World
  • Wilding nature play for children and families
  • Yes, And: The Power of Teaching With Improvisational Play

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 has been moved ONLINE for 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our first-ever online Play Conference!

The ABCs of the 10th Anniversary Play Conference Educational Sessions and Research Symposium

The full detailed schedule is coming soon with even more session titles…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the Educational Sessions and Research Symposium that have been confirmed for the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play.

Check back often because we will update the list as our presenters continue to confirm their sessions.

 playing with boxes from Pat Rumbaugh     DSCF1349    IMG_2667    

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

Addressing Child Mental Health Through Child Centered Play Therapy (CCPT)
Approaches for Evaluating the Design of Natural Playspaces To Support Children’s Outdoor Play
Blank Slate: Design for Learning, Exploration and Physical Growth
Bringing A Change to The Recess Culture to Support Well-Being
Bringing Play to The World of Education!
The Bugket List: Exploring for Tiny Creatures Provides Gargantuan Benefits
Building Trust, Hope, And Healing Through Play: A Community Pop-Up School
“But, I Have Nothing to Do in The Park!” – Thinking About Places for Teens
Camping, Hiking, Playing: Lifelong Learning Today
Children Learning the Value of Play for Life
College Students Play Too!: Inclusive Campus Recreation at Clemson University
Creating Future Innovators Through Creative Play and STEM Learning
Developing Minds and Bodies Through Loose Parts Play
Educational Play: How Modern Technology Can Facilitate Learning While Playing Outdoors.
The Effects of Unstructured Play on Listening Effort in Elementary Schools
Elevating Lifelong Play to Create Healthy Communities
Engaging Students in Mathematics Play: Making Fractions Fun
Establishing Adaptive Sports Programs for Youth with Moderate to Severe Disabilities
Examining Kindergarten Readiness Skills Using A Play-Based, Nature-Focused Preschool Curriculum
A Field-Testing Study on Outdoor Play Environments: Findings and Lessons Learned
Forest Schools: The Value of Play, Autonomy, And Creativity
Free for All Baltimore: Playing After School in A Segregated City
From Exhausting to Energizing:  Creating an Environment Where Youth Thrive
From Unequal Playing Field to Play Ambassadors
Get Ready, Get Set, Go Noodle!
Globally Connecting as We Play Mystery Skype
Guerrilla Playfare: Lessons Learned from Parkour & Streetsport For Designing More Play-Friendly Cities
How to Make Your Community Playful
I’m Tired of Saying “No”: Creating Invitations for Boisterous and Adventurous Play in The Classroom
Impact of Decline in Play on Children and Youth in India: An Awareness Campaign
The Impact of Play on Overweight/Obese Children in Elementary Schools
Incorporate Play into Your Workplace
International Play Ambassador Perspectives
Introducing Innovative Technology to Children’s Play to Encourage Self-Expression
Kindergarten Matters
Learning Through Doing: The Benefits to Learning Through Planning for Inclusive Play
Let’s Make A Mess!: The Intersectionality of Sensory Play and Early Literacy
Lifetime Friendships Formed Through Play
Loose Parts Play Builds Tight Communities
Making Play Equitable & Inclusive
Move. Think. Learn: A Playful Approach to Learning in Grades K-8
Moving ~ From Start to Finish! Healing Effects of Play on Families & Caregivers Affected by Trauma
Music in The Museum: An Accessible, Inclusive, And Interactive Collaboration
Naturalized Outdoor Learning Environments in Childcare Facilities: A Review of Policies In 3 States
Nourishing Imagination and Protecting Pretend Play
Perceptions of Capacities: The Value of Play, Autonomy, And Creativity in Forest Schools
Play Across Generations: A Literature Review of Intergenerational Learning Experiences
Play by The River – Bringing Natural, All-Ages Play to A New River Garden by The Mississippi
Play Facilitation for Adults
Play Is Survival: Time for Time Outs
Play Your Way to Optimal Well-Being
Play: It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore!
Playable Infrastructure
Playful Productivity: Strategies to Unleash Your Professional Child
Playing from Scratch – Not Just for Kids
Playing to Learn Is for Grown-Ups, Too!  A Summer Graduate Course on Play at A PDS Summer Camp.
Playing with I Bambini: Reflections from A Study Abroad Experience in Reggio Emilia, Italy
Playtime Politics: The Growing Mismatch Between Biology and Culture
Ramshackle Play – Resilient, Reliable, Ready
Reframing the Playground: European Play Precedents at Tulsa’s Gathering Place
The Role of a Playground Consultant
Rotary Playgarden: An Inclusive Play Success Story
Scholarly Snapshots: The Importance of The Child’s Right to Play
The Secret to Work/Life Balance=PLAY
Sensory Inclusive Play: Partnering with Kultcurecity To Become Sensory Inclusive Certified
The 7 Elements of Play on  Playground
Small Scientists Society: Encouraging Play-Based STEM Explorations in Informal and Formal Settings
Socio-Environmental Barriers to Outdoor Play and Their Impact on Child Health Outcomes
Supported PLAY to Maximize FLOW In K-8 Classrooms
Tailoring Play into The Everyday: Playing Throughout Zoos, Museums, Aquariums and Nature Centers
Taking the Idea of An Inclusive Playground Past the Label to True Universal Design
Talk and Play: Using Play to Build Language Skills in Young Children
Teaching Play as A Learning Medium in Teacher Education Program
Temple University Students Design an Eco-Schoolyard for Play and Learning at Greenberg Elementary
The Emergence of Foreign Language in A Play-Based Kindergarten: A Spanish FLES Program
Tin Foil, Tape, And Play-Doh OH MY!
Traffic Gardens and Dramatic/Challenging Play: Engagement as A Means of Facilitating Risk Competence
What’s Wrong with Playing Games?
When I Grow Up…Learning Responsible Citizenship Through Play!
When to Play and When to Get Out of The Way
Why Play Matters: The State of Recess in North America
Y’all, Yous, and You Guys: Considering the Language of Play


…and MANY, MANY MORE!!  You don’t want to miss this exciting professional development opportunity!  Join us at the 10th Anniversary Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, March 31 – April  3 at Clemson University.

The ABCs of the 2018 Play Conference Research Symposium and Educational Sessions

The full detailed schedule is coming soon with dozens more session titles…but until then, below is an alphabetical list of the Research Symposium and Educational Sessions that have been confirmed for the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play.  Check back often because we will update the list as our presenters continue to confirm their sessions.

 playing with boxes from Pat Rumbaugh     DSCF1349    IMG_2667

Be sure to REGISTER TODAY because the early bird deadline for this PLAYful conference is February 28.

  • A Critical Approach to Play and Recreation Evaluation: Telling More of the Story
  • Adaptive Sports Development: Building a 7-a-side Paralympic Soccer Club Program
  • An Analysis of School Playgrounds and Parks using Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • An Exploration of Infant and Toddler Outdoor Play
  • A Walk on the Wild Side: Connecting Play and Zoo Walkways
  • Activating an Urban Neighborhood for Outdoor Play:  Strategies for Replication
  • Applying Play Research and Theory to School, Community, and Family Settings in Trinidad & Tobago
  • Assessing Availability and Quality of Play Spaces for Cities within the East Africa Community
  • Beyond Cardboard and Sticks: The Role of Toys in Facilitating Play
  • Biophilic Approach to Children’s Nature-based Outdoor Designed Environments
  • Building a #All-In Classroom Culture: Real-World Challenges In a Game-Based Atmosphere
  • Celebrating a University Collaborative Community of Play
  • Children’s PlayDays – Play Provision in a Time of Extreme Crisis
  • Combining Modern Technology with Outdoor Play
  • Community-Based Strategies for Building and Activating Inclusive Playgrounds
  • Community Health Lessons From Volunteer Implementation of Natural Play Spaces
  • Creating a Playful Event for Children with Special Needs
  • Creating Specialized Outdoor Play Training To Empower Children’s Experiences
  • Diabetes Day Camp: Playing To Learn, Heal and Connect
  • Discover, Play, Share: Using Play To Build Early Literacy And STEM Skills In Preschoolers
  • Discover the Secret Language of Play
  • Exploring a Multi-Sector Approach To Play
  • Four Elements of Play As Described By Ugandan Women
  • Get Playful With Dance
  • How Better Play Makes Better Schools
  • How I Learned To Be an Adult; Lessons Learned On the Recess Playground
  • How to Open a Toy Library
  • How to Survive and Thrive As a Purely Play-Based Program: The Sunflower Creative Arts Story
  • Idea Factory: STEM through Play
  • Inclusive Design for the Aquatic Splash Pad
  • Improv Parenting: Using Improv to Parent Playfully and Mindfully
  • Is It Play?  Is It Learning? A Cross-Cultural Study of Children’s And Parents’ Views
  • “It’s Gonna Hurt”: Roughhousing and Risk in Play
  • Learning to Build
  • Leisure Activities among Urban Older Adults in China: How and Where do They Play?
  • Let’s Get Some GoNoodle On!
  • Making Classroom Magic with Mystery Skype
  • More Fences, More Freedom? Exploring How the Design of Public Play Areas Affects Supervision
  • Municipal Government and Play, It Can Be Done!
  • Natural Harmony: An Instrumental Guide to Blending Music & Community
  • Naturestart: Professional Development For Informal and Early Childhood Educators in Blended Classrooms
  • Night at the Brewseum: Adults at Play!
  • Opportunities and Barriers of Play at Pediatric Gardens: A Recent Case Study
  • Play and Prevention of Bullying Behaviors
  • Play Based Education through a Comprehensive School Health Framework
  • Playground Literacy: Supporting Active Learning through Play
  • PlayMatters – Therapeutic Value of Play for Children Impacted by Agent Orange from the Vietnam War
  • Play Politics: School and Municipal Decision-Making Challenges in Canada Limiting Access to Play
  • Play, Time, Behavior, and Flourishing
  • Prevention, Promotion and Play: Using Interactive Activities to Promote Child Health and Wellness
  • Recess Results: A Survey on Educators’ Perspectives on the Benefits of Recess
  • Remember Play? How Our Personal Play Histories Springboard Support for Child-Directed Play
  • Results of Grassroots Efforts to Increase Nature Play Infrastructure for Children
  • Scaling Up: Building Play Networks At the Regional Level
  • Sensory Play: An Integral Component of Inclusive Recreation
  • The Butterfly Effect: Building On the Big Idea
  • The Healing Power of Play – Restoring Childhood to Kids Impacted By Disasters
  • The Real Toy Story: How to Create a Toy Library by The #1 Library in the Country
  • The Role of Play in the Art Museum: A Case Study at the High Museum of Art
  • The Urgent Need for Play-Based Experiential Learning in Preschool and Kindergarten
  • Three Key Questions to Scaffold Playfulness
  • Tips, Tools, and Tales from the Field: Fostering All-Out, Joyful Play in Adults
  • Transitional Play: Exploring the Play Value of Classroom Indoor-Outdoor Relationship of Space
  • Water Play and Children’s Complex Scientific Explorations
  • What’s Going on with the Midwest Play Conference?: A Nature and Loose Parts Play Workshop
  • YMCA Of Western Ontario; Outdoor Play Project
  • Your Senses at Play! Explore Playground Designs And Programs That Support Children With Autism
  • Zoos as a Nature Play Destination: Nature Playgrounds at Bronx Zoo and Houston Zoo

…and MANY, MANY MORE!!  You don’t want to miss this exciting professional development opportunity!  Join us at the 2018 Conference on the Value of Play: The Many Faces of Play, April 8-11 at Clemson University.

PAW Prints and Beyond: Mary Ann Rintoul

This is the first 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 I sat down with Professor Rintoul from the University of Alberta to discuss why she places such a high value on play. Rintoul goes beyond being passionate for play as she currently runs the PAW campaign and is heavily involved with IPA. Along with these accomplishments, we are glad to have Professor Rintoul involved with the US Play Coalition as a Play Ambassador as she continues to promote the value of play!MaryAnn Rintoul

  1. What is your favourite thing to do that is playful? Why do you think play is so impor

This is a tricky question….as I believe play is not always defined as an activity (thing to do) but as a state of mind. We can be playful all the time! If I were to pick a couple of my top playful things to do, I would say dancing and exploring ocean shores (I love rocks). 

  1. What is “Play Around The World”?

Play Around the World (PAW) is a credit course that is designed to provide University of Alberta students with a 3-month cross-cultural volunteer experience either internationally or in Canada. Offered by the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Canada, students from diverse educational backgrounds form learning communities which are structured to provide a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to learning, leadership, and programming. The main purpose of Play Around the World is to provide students with an opportunity to develop a sense of global awareness and citizenry through a service-learning course focused on Play Provision (United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child). This is achieved through collaboration with various schools, government agencies, and community-based organizations where students work with staff members to provide opportunities for play, sport, and physical activity to children and youth of all abilities. Play is viewed as a vehicle to enliven the human spirit and to promote optimal development.  By working with international and/or Canadian partners, students undergo a meaningful learning experience that enhances their global education in a variety of areas (somewhat dependent on site location) including: culture; the cultural dimensions of play, sport, recreation, and physical activity; issues of child poverty; globalization; the effects of tourism and sex tourism; and the rights of the child as well as the rights of persons with a disability. Play Around the World began in 2001. 

  1. What first got you interested in “Play Around The World” and why?

The former Director and Founder, Jane Vallentyne was a colleague and friend. From the start of the program (2001) I was a supporter and always attended student fundraising events along with the public presentations. There was always something about the program that not only resonated with my work in the Faculty teaching children’s movement activities, but also aligned with many of my values regarding global citizenship and service learning. 

  1. What has been your greatest highlight since being involved with “Play Around The World”?

Perhaps the greatest highlight, among many, would be the expansion to our Cambodia placement site in 2009 – 2010. Personal connections to this country make the work we have established there especially rewarding. 

  1. What do you think the future of play looks like? How does “Play Around The World” support what that looks like?

It is very encouraging to see the profile of play in Canada beginning to rise to the platform it deserves. The Child’s Right to Play as outlined in the UN Convention on the Right of the Child is starting to catch the attention of many provincial and national organizations and small pockets of play advocates are spreading the declaration of the importance of play in the lives of children and adults alike. Play Around the World, as a not-for-profit organization, supports local initiatives by planning and implementing Playdays with agencies such as the YMCA or City of Edmonton as well as special events such as National Child Day celebrations. Alumni of the program are often called upon as ‘play leaders’ to facilitate sessions with children and families. Our main contribution to supporting the future of play is in the form of ‘time and talents’. 

Thank you for all that you do to promote the value of play Mary Ann!

#Playful Kids

monkeybars2Recently we sat down with Evie Houtz, Program Specialist for Be Active Kids in Raleigh, NC. Evie is a mother of two playful kids. She is a role model for living an active, healthy lifestyle! Here is what Evie had to say when we chatted with her about Play!

“As Play Ambassadors, it is our job teach our children how to be playful and physically active just as much as it is our job to teach them morals, values, social skills, and educational concepts.   Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.   Physically active children will develop gross motor skills that later help them to take part in games and sports with their peers.  Physical activity helps children build strong hearts, muscles and bones, improve thinking skills, develop positive self-esteem and confidence and just have fun.

Kids of all ages need both structured and unstructured physically active play throughout the day.   Structured activities are adult led and have a specific learning objective.  This type of physical activity includes games like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light and organized sports like t-ball or soccer.  Young children should get between 60-90 minutes of structured physical activity throughout the day.  Many of these structured activities help the child to learn a motor skill or increase competency in movement.  In addition children should take part in at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity or free play.  This type of physical activity is child centered, child led and child initiated.  Unstructured physical activity includes things like fort building, climbing trees, running around pretending to be magical beings or super heroes, or creating a city out of boxes.  Unstructured free play helps a child to be more creative, learn to experiment, to work cooperatively, and to think more critically.  Both types of physical activity should be spread throughout the day.

In helping a child to play more, know that you have many items you around you each day that can be used for active play.  We all have milk jugs that can turn in to targets or balls, sticks that can used as swords, plastic bags that turn into juggling scarves and mud that can be thrown to ward off the bad guys.  It takes some creativity, courage and a little out-of-the-box thinking, but it is so important. Getting kids active is essential to their long term health and well-being.   Studies have shown that the motivation to be active (exercise) in adulthood can be influenced by childhood experiences.”

For more ideas or how to use inexpensive items to increase physical activity, check out the Be Active Kids 8 one-pagers.


By: Ryan Fahey, B.Ed, BKin

Ryan is a new regular blogger for the US Play Coalition.  He is working to develop our Play Ambassador program and spread the word about the Value of Play.