2016 Play Conference Gets a REBOOT

The US Play Coalition is beyond excited to announce that next year’s conference is NEW AND IMPROVED! In fact, it has been REBOOTED!  New Dates, New Approaches, New Opportunities.

The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play is April 3-6, 2016 at the Madren Conference Center in Clemson, SC.

Building on the energy and innovation that came from our snowy and sometimes “power-free” 2015 conference, there will be new elements for the 2016 conference – round tables, fireside chats, coffee talks and “Play Talks.” The dates have also been changed to April to (hopefully) avoid the snow!

Round tables will feature knowledgeable facilitators around critical issues and trends in the field. Fireside Chats and Coffee Talks will harness the organic opportunities for networking, collaborating and research. And “Play Talks,” our version of TED Talks, will be a series of 15-20 minute dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, engaging, inspiring, informative talks by thought leaders in the play world. These new components, coupled with traditional presentations and our epic PLAY breaks will make The Play Conference an event not to be missed. Be sure to mark your calendars!!

While you are marking your calendar, you may want to reserve your hotel room.  The James F. Martin Inn is attached to the Madren Conference Center. A block of rooms has been reserved for conference attendees for only $109 per night (does NOT include breakfast). A block of rooms is also available at the Holiday Inn Express in Clemson for $99/night including breakfast. We will have a regular complimentary shuttle from there to the conference and back.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Email Stephanie Garst at spgarst@clemson.edu for more details. A call for Presentation Proposals will be out in early September.


Plastic Jug Jai Alai

Supplies:
2 plastic half-gallon jugs that have handles
Marker
Scissors
Newspaper
Masking tape
Newspaper (optional)
Tennis ball (or make a tape ball)

To Make:
– Remove the bottom of the plastic jug.
– On the jug’s edge that has the handle and at least one inch below the handle, draw a curve that will angle down towards the bottom of the jug. Do the same on the other side.  NOTE: If you cut the jug so that the handle is in back (where the edge is higher), it will be easier to throw overhand. If the handle is in front (under the lower edge), you’ll have a scooper that will make it easier to throw underhand. (Trash to Treasures, Chicago Tribune, April 17, 2007)
– When you are happy with the shape of the scoop, cut.
– Wrap several layers of tape around the spout to secure the lid.
– Repeat with the second plastic jug.
– Make your own Tape Ball by wadding newspaper into a ball. Wrap with masking tape.

To Play:
Using only the scoop, toss and catch the ball between players.
For added fun, form teams and play versions of baseball, football, lacrosse, or hockey using the scoops.


DIY Sidewalk Chalk

PFS - Sidewalk chalkAhhhh spring!  Spring brings a different set of outdoor activities to enjoy: 4-Square, hopscotch, ball hockey, marbles, tirar frijoles, circle tag.  Make sure you are ready with your custom made sidewalk chalk.

Supplies needed:

  • Toilet paper tube
  • Small square waxed paper
  • Rubber band
  • Recyclable/Disposable plastic container (e.g., deli container)
  • Craft stick

  • Plaster of paris
  • Corn starch
  • Tempera paint (Optional)
  • Water

Secure a double thick piece of waxed paper at the end of a toilet paper tube with the rubber band.

In the plastic container mix ½ cup plaster of paris and ¼ cup corn starch. Slowly add ¼ to ½ cup water while stirring with the craft stick.  Add tempera paint until the desired color is achieved.

Put mixture into prepared toilet paper tube.  Set the tube upright (waxed paper side down) on a plastic lid or newspaper until it hardens – generally overnight.  Once it hardens/dries, peel off the paper tube.  It is now ready to use!

IMPORTANT: Do NOT rinse cup in the sink!!  This stuff hardens and will clog sink!


Play Conference Reboot is Coming April 3-6, 2016 @ Clemson University

Mark your calendars because you will NOT want to miss this!!  After five years, the Conference on the Value of Play is getting a reboot!  Starting with a change in dates – because April showers are way more fun than power outages and sleet – there are BIG PLANS for the 6th Annual Play Conference.  Keep your eyes peeled and your ears perked because spring has sprung – and so have we!  More details to come!


Lily’s Game

This version of a ball-n-cup game was created by nine-year-old Lily, who was an attendee at a summer play table.

Supplies: single serving plastic yogurt cup (exclude Yoplait), 2 pieces of string (6-8 inches long), 2 pieces of aluminum foil (6”x6”), hole punch

To Make: Punch a hole just below the lip/rim of a clean yogurt cup. Directly across, punch a second hole. Take one piece of string, thread it through one hole and tie a knot to secure one end on the cup.  Do the same with the other piece of string and other hole.  Put the non-tied end of the string in the middle of one piece of foil; wad/crunch the foil into a ball with the string inside.  Do the same with the other string.

To Play: Hold the cup in one hand and try to flip both foil balls into the cup.


The 2015 Conference on the Value of Play: Advancing Play was one for the record books!

Record registration, record snow, record memories!

Click on the Tiger for photo highlights from the Play Conference

Neither an ice storm nor a lack of power kept the 2015 Conference on the Value of Play from its laser-focus on promoting the importance of play in everyday life! The Feb. 15-18 conference, which drew play researchers and advocates from across the world, featured the unveiling of research touting recess as an essential activity that enhances children’s health, development and capacity to learn, as well as the debut of Play Pulse, a quarterly publication on play research, information and advocacy. ADD/HD expert Kevin Ross Emery and renowned psychology author Peter Gray served as keynote speakers, and the conference also included a variety of lectures, sessions and panel discussions as well as a luncheon address by Clemson First Lady Beth Clements.


GRANT WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Grant funding is a distinctive feature of our annual Conference on the Value of Play, and we are proud to have awarded $35,000 in funding to date.   At the 2015 Conference on the Value of Play: Advancing Play, the new grant winners were announced.  A $3,000 research seed grant is awarded to researchers who present empirical research at the Conference on the Value of Play to support new, innovative and thoughtful work on the value of play.  This is seed funding in support of longitudinal or future research in diverse topics related to play, and grant recipients’ work reflects great potential for expanding knowledge in the field.

The 2015 Research Seed Grant was awarded to Richard Christiana, Joy James and Rebecca Battista for their project, “Creating Community Awareness through Prescribing Outdoor Play for Children.”

Research Seed Grant Winners Richard Christiana and Joy James with US Play Coalition Co-Chair Brett Wright

In addition to the research grant, $1000 action grants are awarded to support creative and innovative proposals to engage groups in play or to educate about the value of play. Ideas include hosting a play day, engaging more people in preexisting programs, or a whole new idea.

There were two projects that each received a 2015 Action Grant:

  • Play at the Core: the Importance of Play-Based Practices in Early Education, a Mixed-Methods Approach — Emily Rea, Jared Carroll, Jacob Gomez, and Sanam Jain
  • Providing Appropriate Play Experiences for Children with Autism — Rebecca Woodard and Zach Burt
Seniz Yargici Lennes, 2015 Action Grant Winner Sanam Jain, Fran Mainella, 2015 Action Grant Winner Emily Rea, and Doug Youngblood
Seniz Yargici Lennes, Fran Mainella, 2015 Action Grant Winners Rebecca Woodard and Zach Burt, and Doug Youngblood

Fetch It

Once again this year, Sundance, my Labrador, offered to do the “Playing from Scratch” activity for the upcoming month while I was at the Value of Play Conference.  Being the retriever that he is, this activity is one of his favorites and thus he had to share.  Thank you Sundance for your assistance with this month’s activity.

Supplies: duct tape, two cardboard tubes from trouser hangers

To make: put the cardboard tubes side by side. Wrap tightly with duct tape.

To Play: Tell the human you need to go outside. On the way outside, pick up the fetch toy.  When outside, drop the toy by the human’s feet, run a few yards, turn to look at the human, and smile.  Hopefully the human will understand, pick up the fetch toy, and throw it.  From here you know what to do.


Frosty’s Freeze Throw

by Grace Litteral (age 9) & Joyce Hemphill
Toss ‘snowballs’ and ‘ice balls’ through a snowman shaped target.

Supplies:

  • Aluminum foil, wadded into balls
  • Cardboard
  • Hole punch
  • Pencil
  • Pipe cleaners (optional)
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Tape
  • White pom poms (large)

To Make:

Make three rings out of cardboard.

RING 1:

  • On a large piece of cardboard (e.g., 15”x15”) make a big circle. Cut out the circle. Make another circle 1-inch inside the big circle creating a one-inch ring. Cut out the little circle inside that big circle. Now you have a large ring. Using a hole punch, make one hole in the cardboard ring. Next to the hole write: “10 points”. Set aside the large ring (Ring #1).

RING #2:

  • On a medium size piece of cardboard (e.g., 12”x12”) make a circle. Cut out the circle. Make another circle inside this circle creating a one-inch ring. Cut out the little circle inside that circle. Now you have a medium ring. Using a hole punch make a hole in the cardboard ring; directly across the diameter make another hole. Next to one of the holes write: “50 points”. Set aside the medium ring (Ring #2).

RING #3:

  • On a smaller piece of cardboard (9”x9”) make a circle. Cut out the circle. Make another circle inside this circle creating a one-inch ring. Cut out the little circle inside that circle. Now you have a small ring. Using a hole punch, make one hole in the cardboard ring. Next to the hole write: “100 points”.

Assembling Frosty:

  • Using a piece of string connect the small ring to the medium one. To do this put the string through the hole in the small ring and one of the holes in the medium ring. Tie a double knot; cut excess string. Then connect the medium ring to the large ring using the same technique.
  • If you would like, add arms by wrapping a pipe cleaner on each side of the middle ring and then letting it stick out to the side. Bend each pipe cleaner to resemble a tree branch.

How to Play:

  • Tape Frosty in an open doorway
  • Stand back 5 feet
  • Throw ‘ice ball’ (wad of aluminum foil) and ‘snow ball’ (pom pom) through the hoops.
  • Challenge your family and friends to see who can score the most points.

Homemade Play Dough

There are MANY recipes for play dough. Personally, I prefer dough that does not smell like something I want to eat (e.g., chocolate pudding, orange sherbet, peanut butter). I also prefer the texture of a cooked or heat processed dough.

Below are two recipes: one that uses wheat flour (gluten) and the other rice flour (gluten free).

Play Dough (Gluten)

1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 T cream of tartar
1 T vegetable oil
½ cup salt
Food coloring
In a pot combine all the dried ingredients, oil, and water. Cook over medium heat while constantly stirring. After 3-4 minutes the dough will begin to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. When dough is cool enough to handle turn out onto a flat surface and knead. If you want colored dough, knead in food coloring. If dough is sticky, knead in a little flour or cornstarch. Store in airtight container.
Source: I don’t have a reference for this recipe. It was handwritten on a piece of paper and given to me 25 years ago by a preschool teacher.

Play Dough (Gluten free)

¾ cup white rice flour
¾ cup cornstarch or arrowroot
¾ cup iodized salt
1 T cream of tartar
2 tsp grape seed oil or olive oil
1 ½ cup hot water
Food coloring
In a pot combine all the dried ingredients, oil, and hot water. Cook over medium heat while constantly stirring. After 3-4 minutes the dough will begin to form a ball and pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat. When the dough is cool enough to handle turn out onto a flat surface and knead. If you want colored dough, knead in food coloring. If the dough is sticky knead in cornstarch or arrowroot until you reach the desired consistency. Note: Dough will be less sticky when cool. Store in airtight container.

Source: Preschool and Gluten Free Play Dough (September 4, 2012). Retrieved from http://thesproutedlife.com/preschool-gluten-free-play-dough/