Educational CyberPlayGround

Fun Learning Games - Research shows that
learning with laughter and play helps avoid burn out.


Article 31 of the UN Convention
"That every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
That member governments shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity."
These are the child's right to rest, leisure, play and recreational activities and to participate in cultural and artistic life. The unifying concept is 'not working'. However, while each of these is important in children's lives, “play” stands apart from them in a number of ways. Play is a mode of being rather than an activity and is neither time nor space bound. It is interwoven into children's everyday lives.

The Culture of Childhood: We've Almost Destroyed It. Children learn the most valuable lessons with other children, away from adults.

Children are biologically designed to grow up in a culture of childhood. Children learn the most important lessons in life from other children, not from adults. Perhaps the most important function of the culture of childhood is to teach children how to get along with peers. Children practice that constantly in social play

Children are biologically designed to pay attention to the other children in their lives, to try to fit in with them, to be able to do what they do, to know what they know. Through most of human history, that's how children became educated, and that's still largely how children become educated today, despite our misguided attempts to stop it and turn the educating job over to adults.

Unstructured or 'Free Play'- a definition
In spite of the complexity and diversity of play behaviour, there is general agreement by specialists in the field that play is controlled by children rather than adults, and that it is undertaken for its own sake and not for prescribed purposes. The term “free play” is often used to distinguish this from organized recreational and learning activities, which of course also have important roles in child development. However, the characteristics of free play - such as control, uncertainty, flexibility, novelty, non-productivity - are what produce a high degree of pleasure and, simultaneously, the incentive to continue to play. Recent neurological research indicates that this type of behaviour plays a significant role in the development of the brain's structure and chemistry. Emerging research suggests that child-controlled play may in fact represent a vital evolved behaviour that is necessary for optimal physical and emotional functioning.

Is aftercare becoming too much like school?
Aftercare, which began as an extension of day care, has evolved over the past few decades into a $20 billion industry.School officials who see them as an extension of the school day may use them to try to raise test scores. In underserved communities, good after-school programs correlate with higher test scores and lower juvenile crime. Parents, most of whom pay an average of $114 per week, have their own demands, such as making sure homework gets done and participating in organized sports.
The companies that push this are con men, morons or both, and the parents and schools who buy into it are four-star suckers. What people don't understand is that for children, unstructured play *is* their job. It's how they learn to be creative, how they learn imagination, how to set their own rules, how to explore and how to get along with others.
It's not an issue of play vs. learn, experts said. But evidence suggests kids learn best when they're allowed to play. Too much intervention, said Anna Beresin, a psychologist and folklorist who has been studying children and play for three decades, can convey to children that they are not trusted to decide how an activity should go. Adults need to let go of their own agendas and, within reason, let kids express themselves. “There's this belief that play is a nicety,” Beresin said. “But it's critical. For young children in particular, it's how they make sense of the world around them.” The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees and has outlined the importance of play for healthy brain development and physical health. But play often takes a back seat to homework help and enrichment activities, particularly at schools facing increased pressure to improve academic performance. And yet, children's academic success is inextricably linked to play. “Play can look like chaos to an adult,” Beresin said. “But there's actually a lot of structure.” Kids running around on the playground are exploring their boundaries and figuring out rules. “Ultimately, this allows kids to think creatively and critically,” she said. “And that's what we all need to deal with the problems that life tosses our way.”

2013 The Art of Play: Recess and the Practice of Invention
by Anna Beresin

Temple University Press, Nov 8, 2013 - Education - 202 pages

What can the art of play teach us about the art of play? Showcasing the paintings of more than one hundred Philadelphia public elementary school children, folklorist Anna Beresin's innovative book, "The Art of Play, "presents images and stories that illustrate what children do at recess, and how it makes them feel.
Beresin provides a nuanced, child-centered discussion of the intersections of play, art, and learning. She describes a widespread institutionalized fear of play and expressive art, and the transformative power of simple materials like chalk and paint. Featuring more than 150 paintings and a dozen surreal photographs of masked children enjoying recess, "The Art of Play" weaves together the diverse voices of kids and working artists with play scholarship.
This book emerged from "Recess Access, "a service-learning project that donated chalk, ropes, balls, and hoops to nine schools in different sections of Philadelphia. A portion of the proceeds of "The Art of Play" will support recess advocacy.


2013 Raising Healthy Boys Means Letting Them Run a Little Wild


January 28, 2009 Scientific American Mind -
The Serious Need for Play
Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed By Melinda Wenner <source>


"Research shows that learning with laughter and play helps avoid burn out.
Play is Art and the Bridge to Learning

Research shows the importance of laughter and play,
to avoid teenage depression and burn out.


"Neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain," Panksepp said, "and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along." Research in this area "is just the beginning wave of the future," said comparative ethologist Gordon Burghardt, of the University of Tennessee, who studies the evolution of play. "It will allow us to bridge the gap with other species." "Tickles are the key," Panksepp said. "They open up a previously hidden world." Panksepp had studied play vocalizations in animals for years before it occurred to him that they might be an ancestral form of laughter.

Scientists Study, from an evolutionary perspective,
to what extent play is a luxury that can be dispensed with when there are too many other competing claims on the growing brain, and to what extent it is central to how that brain grows in the first place.
Play, in their view, is behavior that many scientists believe is hard-wired; a central part of neurological growth and development — one important way that children build complex, skilled, responsive, socially adept and cognitively flexible brains. Most species have from 10 to 100 distinct play signals that they use to solicit play or to reassure one another during play-fighting that it's still all just in fun. In humans, the analogue to the chimp's play face is a child's smile, Curvilinear body movement is the body language of play. For humans, pretend play is one of the most crucial forms of play, occupying at its peak at about age 4 some 20 percent of a child's day. It includes some of the most wondrous moments of childhood: dramatic play, wordplay, ritual play, symbolic play, games, jokes and imaginary friends.



Also find Non-human evidence of Play for Healthy Development and learning how to play "fairly"


The Hidden Life of Girls: Games of Stance, Status, and Exclusion. By Marjorie Harness Goodwin. Goodwin's perspective on these sessions of talk is shaped by the concerns and techniques of ethnomethodology sociolinguistics, and conversation analysis mated with field ethnography, which she sees as "a powerful methodology for investigating how children ... become competent social actors by learning how to use language appropriately" Although The Hidden Life of Girls cannot be said to be a tract on children's folklore, it does hold much of interest for the folklorist, both for the performance genres it addresses--hand clapping, jumping rope, hopscotch, songs, ritual insults, "gossip dramas," pretend play, joking, and storytelling -- and for the way these play forms are theorized as arenas where peer-group social organization is accomplished. There is an appendix with the texts of several jump rope rhymes, but this book views the genres of children's folklore as resources for social interaction rather than as items of traditional culture. Folklorists will find that this approach offers many valuable insights as tokens of these familiar genres emerge in the crucible of social interaction. Moreover, our genres have consequence since they are seen to play a vital role in the development of moral judgment, the negotiation of social status, the marking of social boundaries, and the pursuit of social justice.

Definitions of Play

An essential component of play is its frivolity; biologists generally use phrases like ''apparently purposeless activity'' in their definitions of play.

"Since the beginning of time, children have not liked to study. They would much rather play, and if you have their interests at heart, you will let them learn while they play; they will find that what they have mastered is child's play." ~ Carl Orff


Study and Play


A survey of 15,000 school districts conducted in 1999 found that 40 percent of public elementary schools were either eliminating recess or cutting back on it or considering one or the other. The cutback on recess started in the late 1980s, reports Debra Nussbaum. Before that, elementary school pupils often had a 10- to 20-minute recess in the morning, another after lunch and a third in the afternoon. Only 3 states require recess and 10 recommend it. {NYT}

Yale Child Study Center says 6 out of every 1,000 preschoolers are expelled each year. Could the reason be all about making preschool more about academics than about socialization and constructive play? Preschools feel the pressure to bump up the academic portion of their programs to better prepare students for kindergarten. For many, though, the push comes too young and the result is frustration and inappropriate behavior. "Maybe Preschool Is the Problem."


. "Research shows that learning with laughter and play helps avoid burn out. Play is Art and the Bridge to Learning" Research shows that learning with laughter and play helps avoid burn out.

STUDENT HAPPINESS - Children Need to Play for Healthy Development
Is unhappiness a key to academic success? No credible learning or management theory suggests that fearful, unhappy or insecure people are more productive.




People with symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder....

Dr. Jerome Kaygen - Harvard 617.495.3870
Resources Adult Anxiety Clinic
Dr. Lewis Fernandez NYS Psychiatric Institute 212-543-6512

Happier by Tal-Ben Shahar
The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky
Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne
The Assertiveness Workbook by Randy Paterson



With so many children in school failing tests we need to suppor and harness their creativity when they have a learning difference which is NOT a disability. The Department of Education and the College needs to provide tools in the classes undergrads take who will graduate be able to teach creatively to harness the talent of kids who don't test well or read well, but who can achieve and get by on their wits.


Templates have played an important part in the creativity we associate with music and art, and science. Ease of learning depends on how well templated your mind is before the learning experience. Templates that are new paradigms develop out of a very good understanding of the old paradigms like the indigenous playground poetry from the schoolyard or neighborhood. Accepted structures and templates have always been important to creativity and is the basis for improvisation. Creative composers of music know the rules and even when they break them, do so within restraints when they produce physical and mental structures that are enduring.
Templates help keep people's attention. Even big departures from what is normally expected are often the juxtaposition of familiar elements brought together from different contexts, which is what entertains and engages the interest of the audience. The "unexpected" or hidden symmetries and templates that the listener, viewer, or participant in the art activity discovers is and act of learning which is THE SOURCE of pleasure associated with creativity.


PLAY'S THE THINGPLAYING is a serious business. Children engrossed in a make-believe world, fox cubs play fighting, or kittens teasing a ball of string aren't just having fun. Play may look like a carefree and exuberant way to pass the time before the hard work of adulthood comes along, but there's much more to it than that.
For a start, play can be dangerous, and even costs some animals their lives. For example, 80 per cent of deaths among juvenile fur seals occur because playing pups fail to spot predators approaching. It is also extremely expensive in terms of energy. Playful young animals use around 2 or 3 per cent of their energy cavorting, and in children that figure can be closer to 15 per cent. "For evolutionary biologists, even 2 or 3 per cent is huge," says John Byers from the University of Idaho. "You just don't find animals wasting energy like that," he adds. There must be a reason for this dangerous and expensive activity. But if play is not simply a developmental hiccup, as biologists once thought, why did it evolve? There are scores of theories, but none is totally convincing.

Play has evolved to build big brains.

In other words, playing makes you intelligent.

Playfulness is quite a rare trait. It is common only among the mammals, although a few of the larger-brained birds such as magpies and crows also indulge. Animals at play often use unique signals--tail-wagging in dogs, for example--to indicate that activity superficially resembling adult behaviour is not really in earnest.

One of the most popular explanations of play is that it helps juveniles develop the skills they will need to hunt, mate and socialise as adults. Another is that it allows young animals to get in shape for adult life by improving their respiratory endurance. Both these ideas have been questioned in recent years.
Take the exercise theory. If play evolved to build muscle or as a kind of endurance training, then you would expect to see permanent benefits. But Byers points out that the benefits of increased exercise disappear rapidly after training stops, so any improvement in endurance resulting from juvenile play would be lost by adulthood. "If the function of play was to get into shape," says Byers, "I would expect the age distribution of play to vary widely." The optimum time for playing would depend on when it was most advantageous for the young of a particular species to get in shape. But it doesn't work like that. Across species, play tends to peak about halfway through the suckling stage and then decline to a low at weaning. Then there's the skills-training hypothesis. At first glance, playing animals do appear to be practising the complex manoeuvres they will need in adulthood. But a closer inspection reveals this interpretation as too simplistic. In one study, behavioural ecologist Tim Caro from the University of California, Davis, looked at the predatory play of kittens and their predatory behaviour when they reached adulthood. He found that the way the cats played had no significant effect on their hunting prowess in later life.

In another study, neuroscientist Sergio Pellis of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, scrutinised videos of rodents play fighting--the most common form of social play in rodents. Despite superficial similarities between this and the social, sexual and fighting behaviour of adult animals, Pellis's close examination of the play bouts revealed no compelling link between play manoeuvres and adult tactics. "For rats, and probably other rodents," says Pellis, "the primary function of play fighting does not appear to be to provide practice for either sex or aggression."So what is going on? Prompted by the observation that play seems confined to the most intelligent animals, Byers looked at the behaviour and brain size of various marsupials. He found that playful species such as the wombat have bigger brains for their body size compared with their lazier kin, which include the docile koala. More recently, Pellis has teamed up with Andrew Iwaniuk of Monash University in Melbourne to show that in primates, the amount the brain grows between birth and maturity reflects the amount of play in which each species engages.

And earlier this year, Pellis, Iwaniuk and biologist John Nelson, also of Monash University, reported that there is a strong positive link between brain size and playfulness for mammals in general. It is the most extensive quantitative comparative study of juvenile play ever published. Comparing measurements for 15 orders of mammals--from canids to dolphins, rodents to marsupials--the team found larger brains (for a given body size) are linked to greater levels of play. Likewise, animals with relatively small brains tend to play less.

Byers believes that because large brains are less hard-wired and more sensitive to developmental stimuli than smaller brains, they require more play to help mould them for adulthood.

Evolutionary neurobiologist Robert Barton of the University of Durham agrees. "I suspect it's to do with learning, and probably specifically with the importance of environmental input to the neocortex and cerebellum during development," he says.

According to Byers, the timing of the playful stage in young animals provides an important clue to what's going on. If you plot the amount of time a juvenile spends playing each day over the course of its development, you end up with an inverted-U-shaped curve. This is the classic signature of a "sensitive period"--a brief developmental window during which the brain can be modified in ways that are not easily replicated earlier or later in life. Think of the relative ease with which young children--but not infants or adults--absorb language.

Byers suspected that these play curves might coincide with a particular phase of brain development known as terminal synaptogenesis. "In many parts of the brain, there is an overproduction of synapses [the connections between neighbouring neurons] and then a specific culling," he says. "Synapses that are active are retained, while the ones that are less active end up being destroyed."
To test this idea, Byers teamed up with biologist Curt Walker from Dixie State College in St George, Utah, to see how the distribution of play with age in cats, rats and mice fitted with the development of a part of the brain called the cerebellum. Among other things, the cerebellum controls the fine motor skills needed for eye tracking, stalking, pouncing and fleeing--the adult activities that most closely resemble the play of kittens and rodent pups.
The researchers found that in all three species play was at its most intense just as terminal synaptogenesis in the cerebellum reached its peak.
Evolutionary anthropologist Kerrie Lewis from University College London points out that since new brain cells are seldom produced after birth, synaptogenesis is the most likely way in which play could sculpt the developing brain.
But there are other possible mechanisms. "It might also include things that influence processing efficiency, like myelination," Lewis says. Myelin is a fatty sheath that insulates the tentacle-like axons of nerve cells, improving their ability to conduct electrical signals.Either way, play shapes the overall architecture of the brain rather than individual circuits connected with specific activities.

"Most likely, [animals at play] are directing their own brain assembly," says Byers.

"People have not paid enough attention to the amount of the brain activated by play," says Marc Bekoff from the University of Colorado. Bekoff studied coyote pups at play and found that their behaviour was markedly more variable and unpredictable than that of adults. Behaving this way activates many different parts of the brain, he reasons. Bekoff likens it to a behavioural kaleidoscope, with animals at play jumping rapidly from one activity to another. "They use behaviour from a lot of different contexts--predation, aggression, reproduction," he says. "Their developing brain is getting all sorts of stimulation."
Not only is more of the brain involved in play than was suspected, but it also seems to activate higher cognitive processes. "There's enormous cognitive involvement in play," says Bekoff. He points out that play often involves complex assessments of playmates, ideas of reciprocity and the use of specialised signals and rules. He believes that play creates a brain that has greater behavioural flexibility and improved potential for learning later in life. "It's about more connectedness throughout the brain," he says.
The idea is backed up by the work of neuropsychologist Stephen Siviy of Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. Siviy studied how bouts of play affect the brain's levels of a protein called c-FOS--a substance associated with the stimulation and growth of nerve cells. He was surprised by the extent of the activation. "Play just lights everything up," he says. He speculates that by allowing connections between brain areas that might not normally be connected, play may be enhancing creativity.
All these findings paint a picture of how play might have originated. The comparative study reported earlier this year by Pellis and his colleagues suggests a "stepwise" relationship between increasing brain volume and the evolution of play. The researchers suggest that minor changes in brain size might not have required evolutionary changes in play behaviour, but at certain threshold increases in volume, greater levels of playfulness evolved.

Lewis's recent findings point to the intriguing possibility that different types of play may have evolved at different stages in evolutionary history, to allow the development of distinct regions of the brain.

She looked at the relative size of the neocortex--which is responsible for social reasoning, among other things--in primate species, and found that the larger the neocortex in each species, the more social play they indulged in. But this relationship did not extend to object or motion-based play. By implication, Lewis believes, social play may help wire up the social brain, while other forms of play do not. "I think it's reasonably safe to assume that different types of play did emerge at different points in time, but possibly with some overlap," she says.
The idea that play has evolved to build big brains certainly has its critics. Like much of behavioural ecology, it rests on a scaffolding of correlations. "The problem with correlations is that they don't consider unknown third variables," cautions Caro. "So maybe brain size and play are both correlated with metabolic rate or some other factor. Certainly, something about being [warm-blooded] seems important for promoting play."
Even some of the researchers whose results seem to support the link between brain building and play are cautious in their assessment of the theory. Siviy believes there is not yet enough evidence to settle the question. But he thinks the timing of play is convincing. "It's an ideal time to do some learning, to make some modifications to brain circuitry," he says.
One of the strengths of the idea is its testability. Magnetic resonance imaging techniques that identify myelin by-products, for example, should be able to show whether play boosts myelination, as Lewis has suggested. What's more, measuring the volume and activity of certain parts of the brain is becoming increasingly easy due to advances in non-invasive imaging.
If the theory is backed by experiment, what would it say about the way many of us in affluent societies raise our children? We already know that rat pups denied the opportunity to play grow smaller neocortices and lose the ability to apply social rules when they do interact with their peers. Bekoff says play is a sign of healthy development. "When play drops out, something is wrong," he says. Children destined to suffer mental illnesses such as schizophrenia as adults, for example, engage in precious little social play early in life. But can a lack of play affect the creativity and learning abilities of normal children? The answer is that nobody knows. When Byers searched the literature for information on the relationship between childhood play and development in different cultures, he found that no studies have been done. "There's not even any great data on rate of play for any culture across ages," he says. Until such information is available, assessing the importance of play will be slow going. Meanwhile, our ideas about what constitutes a normal childhood are changing fast.
"Kids are discouraged from playing because they've got to go to school," says Bekoff. "They have all these things to do after school that adults think of as play--but Little League isn't play, in many ways." Organised sports are too structured to emulate spontaneous play, and there's often so much pressure involved that after-school activities aren't even fun. With schooling beginning earlier and becoming increasingly exam-oriented, play is likely to get even less of a look-in. "We have basically become a playless society," says Bekoff. Who knows what the result of that will be?


Education & Creativity Creativity is the ability to challenge, question and explore. Many educators have focused on the importance of play and creativity in learning. Many people have influenced the way we think about education and have introduced different theories to the ongoing debate. From Plato (427-347 BC) to Maria Montessori (1870-1952) a number of educators have focused on the importance of play and creativity in learning. Creativity is the ability to challenge, question and explore. It involves taking risks, playing with ideas, keeping an open mind and making connections where none are obvious.

You Play Music - You don't Work Music.
Investigate the connection between Music Makes You Smarter - Broadside ballads and the spread of literacy. Find out more about The Invention of the Printing Press in the late 17th Century In Our Time and subtitled
"Seventeenth Century Print Culture -piety, populism and political protest."
Find out more about collecting ballads, folksongs and chants from the playground to the cyberplayground with the National Children's Folksong Repository.

Fun Learning: Study Ties Mental Abilities To Interaction of Emotion and Cognitive Skills

Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, New York the museum's status as the only one in the world dedicated to the study of play. The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York (already home to theNational Toy Hall of Fame and the world's most comprehensive
collection of toys, dolls, and other play-related artifacts) nearlydoubled in size in 2006 to 282,000 square feet after a $37 million expansion.

Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

The Folkgames of Children pdf


Fun is important by Bernie DeKoven Play Expert learn how to use games in a healthy way with children, adolescents or adults.

Fred Donaldson Ph.D.
Fred is a play specialist, author, aikidoist and internationally recognized for his ongoing play research with children and wild animals. He travels world wide to play with children and animals, and conduct workshops. He is the author of the Pulitzer nominated book, Playing By Heart and has written over 30 articles on original play.

Stuart Brown MD
Stuart Brown began studying violence in the 70's. His teams found strong correlations between violence and the absence of play in childhood. He produced a PBS series on Joseph Campbell, a cover story and PBS special on animals & play for National Geographic. Stuart is the founder of The Institute for Play and co-producer of The Promise of Play, a three-part PBS series.

Sustainable Play: Towards a New Games Movement for the Digital Age
Paper, Presentation Notes and Visuals
"Social play behaviour: cooperation, fairness, trust and the evolution of morality" by Marc Bekoff, Journal of Consciousness Studies, vol 8, p 81 (2001)
"Do big-brained animals play more?" by Andrew Iwaniuk, John Nelson and Sergio Pellis, Journal of Comparative Psychology, vol 115, p 29 (2001)
"A comparative study of primate play behaviour" by Kerrie Lewis, Folia Primatologica, vol 71, p 417 (2000)
Animal Play by Marc Bekoff and John Byers, Cambridge University Press (1998)
Joseph Chilton Pearce - Imigination & Play

School districts are pushing students to new levels as a growing body of research indicates the importance of early learning and the demands of a competitive world close in on the American classroom. To many, the emphasis on academic performance at very young ages is a positive trend that will boost the nation's educational system.

Alliance for Childhood, condemns the increasingly academic curriculum in kindergartens and preschools, which is replacing child-initiated learning through creative play and hands-on activities PDF. Experts say many early education policies are based on "unproven methods" and are "fueled by political pressure." According to the statement, "Education is not a race where the prize goes to the one who finishes first." Instead of strengthening the "drive to learn," current trends in early education policy and practice heighten pressure and stress in children's lives, which can contribute to behavioral and learning problems." The statement expresses strong support for efforts to establish universal preschool, "provided that preschool programs are based on well-established knowledge of how children learn and how to lay a foundation for lifelong learning -- not on educational fads." The group makes five specific "calls to action":

Welcome to the first issue of Play & Folklore
for 2005. Dr. June Factor
- Museum Victoria recently celebrated its publication of Childs Play: Dorothy Howard and the Folklore of Australian Children with a launch at Melbourne Museum, appropriately alongside the Playgrounds exhibit within the Australia Gallery.

TAG! MORE SCHOOLS BAN GAMES AT RECESS Some traditional childhood games are disappearing from school playgrounds because educators say they're dangerous. Elementary schools in Cheyenne, Wyo., and Spokane, Wash., banned tag at recess this year. Others, including a suburban Charleston, S.C., school, dumped contact sports such as soccer and touch football. In other cities, including Wichita; San Jose, Calif.; Beaverton, Ore.; and Rancho Santa Fe., Calif., schools took similar actions earlier. The bans were passed in the name of safety, but some children's health advocates say limiting exercise and free play can inhibit a child's development. Groups such as the National School Boards Association don't keep statistics on school games. But several experts, including Donna Thompson of the National Program for Playground Safety, verify the trend. Dodge ball has been out at some schools for years, reports Emily Bazar, but banning games such as tag and soccer is a newer development. "It's happening more," Thompson says. Educators worry about "kids running into one another" and getting hurt, she says. Critics of the bans say playing freely helps kids lose weight, learn to negotiate rules and resolve disputes.


2012 George Carlin - Todays Professional Parents <not for classroom use>