Playborhood Party – Part 2

Aug 30, 2012 by

Playborhood logo

Logo from


Last Saturday was the Playborhood Party (If you don’t know what a Playborhood Party is, check out Part 1 first.) 

The front yard was filled with nearly every little-kid toy I could find — sandbox; mini basketball hoop; sidewalk chalk and hopscotch board; cars and trucks out the wazoo (I have two boys); a blanket on the grass with a tea set and play food; bubbles; ride-on toys; and hula hoops.  In the field across the street were the toys for slightly older kids — we had a badminton/volleyball net with all the accessories; water balloons and water squirters; frisbees and Nerf footballs; and a parachute with pit balls (who remembers playing that game in elementary school gym class?? It was my favorite!).  There were snacks and cold drinks.  We had lawn chairs and tables strategically placed near the road so that in theory, the adults could sit there and stop the kids from dashing into the road.  I also used the chalk to write, “SLOW” on the actual road, but this seemed to have no effect on the cars that went by.  (Several cars DID slow down when passing the house, but that’s just because they thought it was a really freakin’ awesome tag sale!  Once they realized our toys were not for sale, they zoomed away in a huff.)

Playborhood Party – Part 1

Aug 23, 2012 by

Playborhood sign

Playborhood sign courtesy Mike Lanza


 Turn your neighborhood into a place for play!

“When I was young my friends and I played all over our neighborhood. It was our world, and it gave us the security to go out later and explore the wider world around us. Life is different now. You can drive through the safest neighborhoods and they look like ghost towns. Not a single child is outside playing. I am so grateful to Mike Lanza for reminding us that play begins at home and in our neighborhoods. It takes so little to make it happen there – just awareness, passion, and commitment. This book helps to feed all of those.”    — from a review of Playborhood by Mike Lanza

Wisdom Wednesday

May 2, 2012 by

“You cannot tell me you’re bored!”

Encouraging True “Free Play”

A few weeks back, I wrote about the importance of true free play…play that is completely child-driven and free from any directions from grown-ups. This is the kind of play that happens when kids are left to create their own fun, and incidentally, this kind of play is more valuable than all the money and time you could possibly spend on Gymboree classes, soccer, T-Ball, ballet, tennis camp, and voice lessons combined. Seriously. This is the kind of play in which kids learn social skills, problem solving and flex both their creative and physical muscles. What’s hard about quality free play is how to encourage it.

How often have you (and I!) had this conversation with our children:

“I’m bored!”

“You cannot be bored. You have a million toys in this house…play with them!”

Wisdom Wednesday

Apr 11, 2012 by

In her article entitled “Einstein May Never Have Used Flashcards, but He Probably Built Forts” (published in Ed., the magazine of the Harvard Graduate School of Education), author Lory Hogue discusses the importance of free play in childhood. Notice the word “free” in that phrase “free play”. There’s a big difference between taking your kids to a gymnastics class and setting them loose in your yard with as little interference from adults as possible. According to research cited by Hogue, playgrounds don’t fit the bill:

“For some kids, their only outdoor time is spent at local playgrounds, what Goodenough calls ‘austere concrete and plastic gyms.’ Usually there’s a climbing object and a swing, all on a flat surface. The problem, she says, is that this kind of space only develops gross motor skills like balance and coordination. It does little for creativity and sensory exploration.”