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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Papa Play Awards: 5 Twitter Dads Who Are Awesome Advocates for Play!

Photo by Caitlin Regan (Flickr)

What is your father like? My dad is compassionate, hilarious, and playful! I owe a lot of my enthusiasm for life to him. With Father's Day approaching, I wanted to take the time to honor fathers who deliver joy to children across the globe through the power of play. I actively follow these Twitter dads who each offer a unique perspective on fatherhood, parenting, and play. I learn so much from them, and I am certain you will too!

1. James Siegal

While he advocates for everything from bike-friendly lanes to equal access playgrounds, James Siegal also serves as the president of KaBOOM!, a non-profit play advocacy group. He's also a dad. No matter how busy he is, he is devoted to his mission of creating communities that are bursting with playability. With KaBOOM!, he builds playgrounds and "integrates play into routine spaces like sidewalks and bus stops".

2. Mike Johnson

In 2008, Mike Johnson established a fun and functional website to help dads find a happy, healthy work-life balance. His goal is to help fellow fathers work smarter so that they can dedicate as much wholesome time to their children as possible. Such a wonderful idea! Playground Dad provides tech, events, stories, advice, and inspiration so that fathers can live by the motto, "make sure we're not just showing up, but we're spending better time." Browse the website and follow Mike's twitter feed for motivation, laughs, and heartwarming tales of family time well-spent!

3. Mike Prochaska

Daycare is far more than just a "mom" thing. At Dad Adventure Day Care, play is the foundation for success. This fun, adventurous father understands just how vital play is to a child's growth and wellbeing. Through his empowering and knowledgeable tweets about childhood, Mike serves as an active role model for children. Plus, he shares tons of joyful, smile-sparking pictures of kids at play!

4. Alex Smith

Alex Smith is a champion advocate for providing more play opportunities in public spaces. He is spearheading the civic movement known as "PlayGroundology". On his blog, he explores many compelling topics, such as the value of healthy risk during play, the need for freedom to roam outdoors, and playgrounds around the world. I love spending time there; it is a treasure trove of knowledge and inspiration! His tweeter feed is also bursting with creative ideas and insightful articles. If you want to be delighted and inspired, check out his vast collection of playground pictures from all over!

5. Darell Hammond

In 1995, Darrell Hammond read a story in The Washington Post about two children who suffocated while playing in an abandoned car because there was nowhere else to play. This tragedy compelled him to create KaBOOM! with his friend Dawn Hutchinson. His mission was to address the need for safe, accessible playgrounds for children everywhere. KaBOOM! has informed me that they have "built, opened, or improved nearly 16,300 playgrounds" and announced 241 playful cities for 2015! This is so outstanding. Their efforts have enhanced the physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of countless kids. Please consider donating!

As we celebrate Father's Day this month, let's honor the dads and father figures who help make the world a more vibrant, enriching, and playful place! What fun memories do you have with your dad?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Moms, Assemble! 9 Ways That Moms Are Just Like The Avengers

Photo by marvelousRoland (Flickr)

As a mom, do you ever feel like you're being threatened into extinction by evil forces like "What's for dinner?" or a dozen after school activities? Don't worry, you got this! I've got some fantastic news: You are more mighty than the Avengers! While you may not be superhuman, you are fueled by the most supreme power source in the universe: LOVE! Here is how you match up to each Avenger:

Captain America

Just like Captain America, you have leadership and tactical skills that help you plan, juggle, and navigate a million different things and get everybody where they need to go. And don't forget: you're like a protective and impenetrable shield. Nothing harmful, including germs, cyberbullies, or the bogeyman, can get close to your kids. Plus, your motherly love is capable of rallying your family's spirit no matter the obstacle!

Iron Man

Whether you're dressed sharp in a tailored pantsuit or easygoing in yoga pants, you're equipped to make things happen. Instead of an Arc Reactor palladium core, you are sustained by the most fearsome and everlasting source: a mother's heart! Your dedication and resourcefulness help you neutralize hungry tummies, sleepless nights, and last minute science fair projects. Plus, it takes a brilliant scientist like yourself to concoct the perfect formula of foods to suit your child's picky taste!

Thor

The mighty Asgardian god Thor has his trusty hammer Mjolnir to wreak havoc on wrongdoers. In our corner, we've got willpower. This willpower pushes us through the trenches of exhaustion and the perils of the school pick-up line. We may sometimes feel powerless against the coffee-jolted whirlwind that is parenthood, and that's okay. We know that despite the dizzy fatigue and gross substances, raising a child is more dazzling than Bifröst.

Hulk

I know you don't like to admit it, but parents sometimes have to get loud like Hulk to be heard, especially when it comes to providing for your kids, protecting your darlings, or righting an injustice. Remember this superhero the next time you have to disagree with a childcare provider, address an unbalanced policy at school, or convince your kids to clean up their toys. While you'll never turn green, you sometimes need to call on your inner Hulk when you face a problem that requires a hard fix, and that's okay!

Hawkeye

"Clint" Barton was raised in a circus, and as parents, we can almost imagine what that was like. What Hawkeye lacks in superhuman strength, he makes up in sharp thinking and inventiveness. Whatever the situation, you are on target. You dip and duck through appointments, deadlines, and dinner plans. With items from your quiver (AKA purse), you can fix any boo-boo, conquer evil spills, and repair broken toys.

Black Widow

Black Widow is the epitome of athleticism, craftiness, and subterfuge. Moms exhibit these traits as they deftly navigate minefields of toys and deliver clutter to its rightful place. With sharp tactical prowess, moms manage to serve dinner, crunch numbers, write theses, juggle deadlines, and tuck kiddos into bed all in the same night. Just like Black Widow reacts flawlessly to exploding environments, you respond to split-second schedule changes with ease thanks to your gifted intellect.

Which Avenger do you most identify with? As a mom, you're a little bit like all of them. So take a minute today, breathe deeply, and remember you've got this! Of course, nobody expects moms to be able to do it all. We're only human, after all! But we have kiddos that we love, and that is the mightiest superpower of all.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

The ABCs of Why Play Matters!

Photo by woodleywonderworks (Flickr)

Play offers far more than just fun and games. It is an essential ingredient to a child's physical, emotional, and social development! When kids play, they are exploring natural sources of self-expression, creativity, and learning. So, let's celebrate play using the basic building blocks of education - our ABCs!

A - "Almost all creativity involves purposeful play." - Abraham Maslow

B - Bouncing, jumping, swinging, dancing, sliding, hopping, running! Play is fundamental to gross motor development in children. The more kids move, the more they will understand their bodies.

C - "Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn." - O. Fred Donaldson

D - "Deep meaning lies often in childish play." - Johann Friedrich von Schille

E - "Each of us is of infinite value. Focusing one's whole life on responsibilities, without taking time for self-renewal and play, abandons the joy and the true value of life." - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

F - "Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." - Khalil Gibran

G - "Go and play. Run around. Build something. Break something. Climb a tree. Get dirty. Get in some trouble. Have some fun." - Gerald Brom

H - "Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant…. Then youth will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success." - Louisa May Alcott

I - "It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self." - D.W. Winnicott

J - "Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game." - Michael Jordan

K - Kids need at least one hour of physical exercise each day to fortify their physical health, jump-start their creative problem-solving skills, and prep their brains for absorbing educational material. Playgrounds and sports are a fun way for kids to partake in motion.

L - "Life is more fun if you play games." - Roald Dahl

M - "My childhood may be over, but that doesn't mean playtime is." - Ron Olson

N - "Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father." - Roger von Oech

O - Open-mindedness begins on the playground. Play creates a safe, natural environment where kids can engage with others, share ideas, explore a variety of cultures, and find their own voice.

P - "Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn't taste good." - Lucia Capocchione

Q - Quality time spent playing with family and friends creates memories and builds bonds that last a lifetime. As Plato once said, "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

R - Recognize that "humans are social animals, designed to move, built to live and love nature, to grow and mature by doing." - Dr. Matthew Edlund

S - Sensory play invites children to discover the world through their five senses. Both children and adults retain the most information when the senses are engaged. They are direct pathways to the brain, creating more vivid and easily summoned memories. What does the smell of fresh grass remind you of?

T - "The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable." - Carl Jung

U - Understand the cognitive, social, and academic benefits of play, as you add one or more fun activities into your daily routine.

V - Variety is the spice of life! Kids can play alone or in groups, outdoors or indoors, on the playground or deep in the woods. There are endless kinds of toys and crafts to investigate. Each one of these play opportunities has unique benefits.

W - "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw

X - Xylophones are awesome! Playing music "ignites all areas of child development: intellectual, social and emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy". Music and dancing create fluid connections between the body and mind. They also provide a means of self-expression for kids!

Y - You should play too! Adults need to play too; it keeps the mind supple, the heart open, and the imagination thriving. What are your hobbies and playful activities of choice?

Z - Zest! Play adds spontaneity and zest to life. Many mundane daily activities such laundry, cleaning, and cooking can be energized when you turn them into games.

We hope you enjoy this playful alphabet of reasons why play matters! What reasons for each letter can you think of? How about the first letter of your name? Sounds like a fun game!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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