Help spread the word about the importance of play, and get a free poster!
- Parker Barry
Kids today don’t have as much free time to play as they used to. Play — especially kid-directed, open-ended play — has amazing benefits. Toca Boca is taking a #standforplay — find out how you can share with others and get a free play poster!
Backing Off Is Hard To Do
I’m an evolutionary psychologist. This means I’m interested in human nature and how that nature came about by natural selection. I’m especially interested in the nature of human play, and most especially in the role of play in children’s development. My research, and that of many others, reveals that a major purpose of play in […]
How Playing More Can Give Your Kid a Boost in School
Play can’t be boxed or bottled by adults in ways that guarantee kids will learn letters today and shapes tomorrow. Yet kid-directed play can spark deep learning, naturally growing crucial, behind-the-scenes strengths in kids that support the more obvious academic skills taught in classrooms. 1. Creative problem solving. When kids direct their own play, making up […]
Kids Need to Play: It’s Nature’s Way
Over the past 50 years, kids have missed out on play. Evolutionary psychologist Dr. Peter Gray points to a decline in free play as the reason for an increase in anxiety and depression, a decline in empathy and rise in narcissism, and a decline in creativity. Kids today spend more of the year in school […]
4 Tips for Mixed-Age Play
1. Create opportunities. Host play dates with your kid’s friends and invite their friends’ siblings. Involve your kid in group lessons that are based on skill progression, rather than age. Make birthdays and holiday celebrations family events by inviting everyone — younger and older sibs of friends and their parents. (Mixed-age play that includes parents, […]
5 Ways to Play in the City
A day in the city with kids may be part of your regular routine — especially if the city is where you call home — or it may just happen only occasionally. Either way, there’s always room for play! Check out these five tips for playing in the city. 1. Let getting there be part […]
Kids Are Free to Roam in Our Neighborhood
“Biiinnndelllls! Time for dinner! Come home!” I yell that out my front door almost every evening, and I admit, sometimes I think of putting on pearls and an apron just to complete the June Cleaver persona. I live on a street where kids roam pretty freely, and friends often tell me they wish they could […]
LEGO and Blocks: Building Opportunities for Open-Ended Play
Give a kid a box of basic LEGO bricks and you are likely to see him play attentively for hours. LEGO and other simple blocks and construction toys facilitate kid-directed recreation — the opportunity to play without structure, to build and take apart as necessary. For a kid furnished with a big box of blocks […]
Like the Real Thing, Sandbox Games Can Promote Freedom and Creativity
Consider how a young child plays in a backyard sandbox. She digs around with her hands in the sand, perhaps incorporates a few toys or characters in her play, and shapes her sandbox world without a clear goal or endpoint in mind. Playing in a sandbox is a multisensory experience that is free and unstructured. […]
How Much Homework Is Too Much?
School is back in session, and many kids who had so much free time that they complained of boredom during the summer are now wishing they had that free time back. In today’s increasingly demanding academic environment, even kindergarten students are assigned homework, and time that was once reserved for play and physical activity in […]
How Much Should You Play with Your Kids?
With busy schedules, concerns about child safety and the loss of the traditional neighborhood, many kids are left playing by themselves, in front of a screen or with parents as their primary playmates. The result is young children who have fewer opportunities to engage in the unstructured, social and cooperative play that is crucial to […]
Keep on Truckin’: Why Kids Dig Trucks
Many young kids are fascinated by big trucks: dump trucks, garbage trucks, monster trucks, fire trucks, pickup trucks, semi-trucks, tractors, steamrollers and all types of construction equipment. Indeed, there’s a truck of some kind almost everywhere something important is being built, fixed, grown or moved on our highways, city streets and farmlands — and kids […]
So Many Ways to Play! Here’s How to Spot and Support Pure Play
Ask a kid to define play and the word “fun” will most likely be the one-word response. Adults who study play add all kinds of labels: Social play. Competitive play. Constructive play. Imaginative play — the list goes on. Most forms of play have some common characteristics, so it can be challenging to figure out what’s […]
Mix It Up: Mixed-Age Play Is Good for Kids
The segregation of children by age is an artifact of modern times. During most of human history, prior to the establishment of our age-graded system of schooling, children nearly always played in age-mixed groups. A typical group playing together might consist of half a dozen children ranging in age from 4 to 12, or 8 […]