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The Power of Play

The Power of Play: Creating playful environments and programs in our libraries. Presentation for OLC Chapter Conference, Spring 2014.
by

Jen Thomas

on 2 May 2014

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Transcript of The Power of Play

The Power of Play
Creating playful environments
&
programs in our libraries

What is Play?
Engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose
Amusing oneself by engaging in imaginative pretense
Being cooperative
Representing (a character) in a theatrical performance
Why is play important?
Play encourages social interaction and sharing
Play improves vocabulary, language development and storytelling skills
Play develops skills such as critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and collaboration
Play encourages creativity and imagination
Play improves one’s ability to experience and appropriately express emotions, understand the emotions of others, and regulate emotions
Why offer play in libraries?
Studies show that free play is being replaced by structured activities and academics.
Libraries can provide a free space for play.
Libraries are places where children, adolescents and adults can come to meet and interact with their peers.
Libraries have trained, talented staff who are able to spend time developing and creating spaces and programs to encourage free play.
Libraries have funds that can be used to purchase materials such as props, costumes and furniture that can be used for pretend play.
As one of the five practices of ECRR2, play is an important way of helping children to improve language and literacy skills.
What are some ways libraries can offer play?
Pretend Play Programs
Imagination Stations
Activity-based Storytimes
Lego/building programs
Family programs
Tween programs and teen programs
Pretend Play Program
Pretend Play in the Library is a program in which families with children aged 2-6 have 45 minutes in our youth services activity center to explore themed props, costumes and creative materials. Pretend play is open-ended, self-guided, and allows parents to engage with their children.

Imagination Stations
Imagination Stations are creative, themed or un-themed spaces in the library set up with costumes, props, furniture, etc. to encourage pretend play and imaginative thinking.

Importance of Block Play
Encourages cooperation and sharing
Stimulates imagination and creative thinking through dramatic play and symbolism
Improves language and negotiation skills
Helps with problem solving
Improves confidence by allowing the builders to think freely and make decisions
Block Play in Libraries
Books and Blocks: a short storytime for children ages 3-5, after which toy building materials are used to re-create characters and objects from the stories.
LEGO Madness: Children 6-12 are invited to come to the library to participate in cooperative building activities, using the library’s own supply of LEGOs.

Wonderworks: STEAM Storytime
Children and their adults enjoy books, hands-on-activities, songs, crafts and more in this interactive program which teaches the skills of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM).

Play in Family Events
Play in Tween & Teen Programs
Potential Problems with Adding Play to the Library?
Space?
Time?
Staffing?
Budget?
Interest?
Adults Need Play, too
“Play is defined by researchers as an activity that encourages positive emotions and allows people [to get] to know each other, [learn] about each other or [engage] in a mutual interest together, at a higher rate than expected . Play is accompanied by smiling and laughter...play is not forced, it encourages autonomy, spontaneity and creativity. Friends, couples and co-workers who play together report feeling greater intimacy and closeness. And this sense of closeness develops at a faster rate than normal.
Play bonds those who engage in it and helps to shake off tensions and aggressions that might interfere with work or relationships. Adults spend too little time at play according to research, and would benefit greatly from spending more time at it. In the workplace, "adult play helps to alleviate boredom, release tensions, prevent aggression, and create work group solidarity…”
Whether you’re an adult playing with other adults, an adult playing with kids or children playing, taking play seriously may help you to bond, behave or learn, and you'll have fun doing it!”
~Dr. Tian Dayton, “Researchers Say Adults Need to Play More,”

Excellent Literature & Ideas on The Power of Play
“The Need for Pretend Play in Childhood Development,” by Scott Barry Kaufman. Beautiful Minds, March 6, 2012 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/201203/the-need-pretend-play-in-child-development
“The Power of Play” Boston Children’s Museum http://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/power-of-play
“Play in the Preschool Classroom: Its Socioemotional Significance and the Teacher’s Role in Play,” by Godwin S. Ashiabi. Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol. 35, No. 2, October 2007 http://leadershiplinc.illinoisstate.edu/play-based-learning/documents/play_in_the_preschool_classroom.pdf
“Can We Play?,” by David Elkind. Greater Good, Spring 2008 http://www.ultimateblockparty.com/download/UBP_CanWePlay.pdf
“The Serious Need for Play,” by: Wenner, Melinda. Scientific American Mind, Feb/Mar2009, Vol. 20, Issue 1. https://www.uwsp.edu/hphd/Documents/gesell/needForPlay.pdf
“Researchers Say Adults Need to Play More,” by Dr. Tian Dayton, Huff Post Addiction and Recovery Blog, March 20, 2014 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-tian-dayton/researchers-sayadults-nee_b_817248.html
“Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence,” by Peter Gray. American Journal of Play, Spring 2009 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090415102211.htm
“The Importance of Block Play,” Journey Into Childhood Blog http://journeyintoearlychildhood.weebly.com/the-importance-of-block-play.html
“Improving Parent-Child Relationships Through Block Play,” by Yen-Chun Lin, Education, Spring 2010
Cultivate Wonder: Exploring Science with Children. http://cultivatewonder.wordpress.com/
Questions? Comments?
Please, let us know what you think.
Jen Thomas,
Youth Services Librarian
Westerville Public Library jthomas@westervillelibrary.org
Linda Uhler,
Youth Services Manager
Westerville Public Library luhler@westervillelibrary.org
Possible Solutions?
Cardboard boxes
Recycled and reusable materials
Paper bag, sock and stick puppets
Paper masks and props
Teen or volunteers
Outdoor programs in the summer

OLC Chapter Conference. Spring, 2014
Jen Thomas and Linda Uhler
Lego Madness
Quick Challenge: Draw a block from the bucket. Based on the color of that block, build a food of your choice. Five minutes.
Ultimate Challenge: Create a meal on your Lego plate. 20-30 minutes.
Free build: In teams or individually, create your dream kitchen or restaurant.
*For the purpose of this presentation, we will be focusing on the type of play that is non-compeptitive
Our family events are open to families with children of all ages. They are typically limited to 100 attendees. They include stations with both passive and interactive games and activities. There is almost always something for everyone at family night.
Full transcript