ATTENTION: Hear All About It, Children’s Book, “Let’s Play Outside,” Play Day Handbooks, and Free To Play Summit
Hello, Playground Professionals, this information is just what you have been waiting for! Grab a pen and notebook and take notes or better yet get out your smartphone and put this information in your phone.
Let's Play Outside
On June 30, 2021, our children’s book, “Let’s Play Outside,” will be available (letsplayamerica.org/books). The timing of this book could not be better. Those of you with children in your life can order your book today. You may also wish to order a book for your local library or let them know about it. Share the link with elementary and preschools in your area, and your local listserves, so that all children can be inspired to play outside.
Daniel Nakamura (booth-o-rama.com/), my partner in play, helped me co-found the nonprofit letsplayamerica.org. Daniel’s photographs for our children’s book, “Let’s Play Outside,” will capture the eyes of the young and not so young. Daniel’s photographs capture children while they are moving and at play. The text helps spark children’s imagination, so they can picture themselves playing. Our publisher, Star Bright Books, asked me to share tips for caregivers, educators, and parents on the importance of playing outside. I embraced this challenge by sharing information that will help all adults understand why children deserve and need to play outside daily. This information is included at the end of the book.
Play Day Handbooks
The pandemic set many people back by limiting the use of outside play spaces. There were months when playgrounds were off-limits. Now that it is safer to be outside there is no better time to have this book in your possession and for children to be outside playing. I have always been one to say, “Okay, we have been thrown lemons, let’s make lemonade.” Let’s Play America could no longer hold public gatherings, like play days, closing streets to play, and joining other events by adding play activities. We asked ourselves what we could do and the answer was to spend some of this downtime writing Play Day Handbooks. You can order our handbooks on our website and learn how you can begin to plan a play day in your community (letsplayamerica.org/handbooks).
People from around the world are enjoying our Play Day Handbooks. In the past, we organized 28 in-person Play Days. We had twelve years of information to share. Since the pandemic lockdowns, we have held three Virtual Play Days with Play Facilitators from all over. You might be looking to bring your employees together for some fun, or maybe you are an educator and you want to have a Play Day for your students. For places of worship that have not been meeting in person, a Play Day may be just what the congregation needs. There is also your community at large. Jay Keller and his wife Anna have been Play Facilitators for two Virtual Play Days by leading, “Comedy Half Hour.” Cherwanda Oliver has also been a Play Facilitator for two Virtual Play Days and Cherwanda led “Let’s Boogie,” a Virtual Play Day Zoom dance session. See what these two Play Facilitators said below.
“Living in a playful city brings the community together with activities that focus on the young but in the case of Takoma Park, playful city programs have drawn in citizens across generations. Our playful city activities bring adults involved back to the joys of childhood and bring to our kids a sense of fun within our diverse community. Playful city programs build trust, enhance communications and strengthen community. Fun is the fundamental part and it is the basis of a caring and strong community. A playful city is a fun city, and who doesn't want to have fun?”
Jay Keller, Citizen of Takoma Park
“What does it mean to live in A Playful City USA? To me, it means enjoying the company of other people in a community that shares some of the same memories of things we did as children and being able to pass on to our children the things we did. For example, playing games like hopscotch, jump rope, kickball, and dodgeball, playing jacks and tag, even making mud pies. To me, these types of activities are good to know and use to make our children as well as ourselves strong physically and mentally and to get away for a little while, from the modern technologies that we are exposed to every day (e.g. the computer, cell phones, iPods and even television). People nowadays are so busy with their lives working and trying to make ends meet just to survive, we don't take or have family timeouts, we just need to let our brains breathe and be creative again and by having A Playful City USA and our Play Lady in our community, it lets us do just that!!! P L A Y Together!!!!!!”
Cherwanda Oliver, The Mud Pie Lady
After you have read the digital handbooks and are excited to plan a play day for your community reward yourself with some play clothes (letsplayamerica.org/play-shop#!/). On a walk with my daughter Sarah and her new baby, she snapped this photo of me. Not to be outdone, Sarah and my son-in-law Zach dressed Charlie in Let’s Play America clothing as well, see below.
2021 Free To Play Summit
When your life becomes all about play you start hearing about all kinds of play opportunities. While we were all stuck inside or had to be super careful when we went outside during the summer of 2020 I heard about FairyDustTeaching.com, an organization that was offering a Virtual Play Summit. Of course, that caught my attention. I was blown away by listening to Rae Pica speak about play for young children. She had me shouting out loud, “you are right, Rae!” Young children learn best through play, especially with self-chosen play activities. This led me to contact Sally Haughey, the founder of Fairy Dust Teaching. She invited me for a Zoom chat and the next thing I knew I was invited to be one of the twenty speakers she would interview to be aired on the “2021 Free To Play Summit.”
Save the date: July 12-16, 2021 is the Virtual Free To Play Summit. This is an opportunity you do not want to miss. If you are looking to gain professional development in early childhood this Free to Play Summit is just what you are looking for. The summit is virtual, educational, filled with play experts you can listen to in your own home or wherever you may be during July 12-16. I can guarantee you will have a good time. Sally does a fabulous job asking questions of the speakers that get to the heart of why children deserve and need free unstructured play daily. Sally and her team come from backgrounds in early childhood. They have reached out to play advocates from around the world who will enhance your curricula, engage you to try new activities, and inspire you so you will be refreshed and ready to begin a new school year.
This summit will have the most sought-after play professionals in the world including Dr. Stuart Brown, the founder, and president of the nonprofit National Institute for Play (www.nifplay.org). I am fortunate to know Dr. Brown and I can tell you this man knows his stuff, the science of play. Early childhood directors, educators, advocates and anyone interested in play is going to want to join this “Free To Play Summit (Click to sign up).”
To play friends from around the world, I hope after reading this column you will do three things:
- Order “Let’s Play Outside”
- Order Let’s Play America’s Play Day Handbooks
- Sign-up for the Free to Play Summit
You will be giving yourself play resources that will not only benefit you but all those that come in contact with you. Play is something we all deserve to experience every day, so treat yourself.
Your playful friend, Pat, The Play Lady.