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Play in Education (PIE) News July 2021

Happy summer!

Here at People of Play, we are enjoying play and fun in the summer sun. After what has been a stressful academic year for so many, we hope you’ll join us. Congratulations to all graduates of the class of 2021, and congratulations to the parents and educators who made this school year possible. In this newsletter, we’re excited to share educational perspectives on the pandemic, investigate the value of toys in professional development, and celebrate the 35th anniversary of an iconic company. Wishing all of you a playful summer. Stay cool!

Lucy Santiago, Summer Editor



How to Help Kids Succeed This Fall? Relax and Play This Summer.

Though the summer is only beginning, many of us are already looking towards the fall. Both parents and educators are wondering how to support students returning to school full-time in person this fall. According to child psychologist Dr. Emily W. King and play therapist Sarah Harris, the answer is to spend this summer supporting children’s overall wellbeing. And the best way to do that is to encourage children to relax and play. Play can help children process emotions, expend energy, and develop creativity. This is what parents should be encouraging, instead of stressing over academic time lost to the pandemic. Dr. King writes, “Kids need play, movement and fun. The more laughter the better… Send them to school as emotionally well beings, and teachers will teach them.” Like many other experts, she recommends that parents make play their priority this summer.

Click here to read more: “School's out for summer: How parents can support their kids' mental health.”

The Value of Online Play Groups Beyond the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many playgroups online, to Zoom, Roblox, FaceTime, and more. While in-person playgroups are returning, one expert is making the case for keeping some online playgroups in place even after the pandemic. Educator and literacy scholar Rebecca Horrace argues that technology is central to today’s children, so play in the digital world is a natural next step. While they couldn’t and shouldn’t replace in-person play, online play groups can offer children a chance to connect over shared interests like favorite movies. They can use these shared interests as a foundation to innovate collaborative, digital forms of play – Roblox is a popular example. Children are now digital natives, and have the ability to transition seamlessly between physical and online play where adults may not. Horrace’s recommendation encourages adults to rethink what play could mean to modern tech-savvy kids

Click here to read more: “STREAM into Online Play Groups: How Children Adapt to Play in a Rapidly Digitized World.”

LEGO Serious Play in Post-Secondary Education and Professional Development

Fans of LEGO have always known that the brightly-colored building bricks are a gateway to creativity. With the advent of LEGO Serious Play products, these toys are now making waves in the professional world. LEGO Serious Play stimulates group problem solving and encourages participation during meetings. When the entire team uses their bricks to respond to questions asked by a facilitator, each individual brings something different and innovative to the table. Post-secondary educators have taken note, too. A new urban planning course at Birmingham City University will use LEGO Serious Play to develop students’ ideas about the future of smart cities. The success of LEGO Serious Play shows that toys are not only helpful to children’s learning, but to adults’ innovations as well.

Click here to read more: “A new university course is using LEGO to shape the future of smart cities.”

American Girl Celebrates its 35th Birthday

This year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the American Girl company. American Girl’s extensive product line – 18-inch dolls both historical and contemporary, baby dolls, books, and even a magazine – has become a childhood staple. American Girl is best known for its 18-inch historical dolls, which are as educational as they are fun. Each robustly researched doll in the line comes with a novel that tells the story of a different period in American history, through the eyes of a girl growing up during that time. This unique approach makes learning history exciting for young girls, who can empathize with the struggles of their American Girl. But American Girl is not stuck in the past. The Girl of the Year dolls are modern characters who showcase diverse perspectives and tackle contemporary issues. American Girl’s past thirty-five years have been monumental, and its devoted fans will learn and play on as the American Girl company continues to define American girlhood.

Click here to read more: “The Enduring Nostalgia of American Girl Dolls.”

Interesting Articles From Around the World


COMIC: Teaching Kids To Make Art Out Of What You Have In The Pandemic

From indigenous author and illustrator Julie Flett comes a joyous new book about playtime: We All Play - kimêtawânaw

Schultütes, a traditional back-to-school treat from Germany for a most unusual year

A $50,000 Beanie Baby? See What Your Beloved '90s Toys Are Worth

3 Truths and a Lie!


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