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"Play. That's the best way kids learn -- doing something they enjoy." Trish Thomas, America's Most Playful Family Contest winner
Imagination Playground has been designed as a flexible play solution that can be implemented in any environment where children can be found. Here are a few of the ways that our partners have used Imagination Playground to increase levels of engagement, support professional development, and strengthen the presence of play in the community.
In school settings, Play Associates have the opportunity to work with a set grouping of children. As such, Observation, documentation and reflection are key activities. Here, the teachers learn from each other how to best encourage the children to play with the forms and explore the product's capabilities on their own volition. Learn more about United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education
"We saw this experience as a good opportunity to practice and develop children's gross motor skills and balance. We will explore these materials every week to see how they choose to use the blocks in different ways, using their creativity and imagination."
- Paula Moujalli, Principal
Imagination Playground has been used as a means to support therapeutic programming for children and teens on the autism spectrum. Giant Steps, an organization dedicated to meeting the educational needs of children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, incorporates the loose parts into sessions to help kids regulate movement, compose sensory systems, and strengthen muscles. Imagination Playground also helps students nurture their creativity, providing a natural venue for communication and collaboration. Here, Social Worker Michelle Sas incorporates the parts as balance beams to get the kids moving onto various levels and to increase their stability.
Because Imagination Playground can be easily transported, many communities have begun using it as a tool to increase engagement. Playful City USA community Providence, RI has hosted "pop-up play" activities featuring Imagination Playground at sites throughout the city to increase access to and the visibility of play. These fantastic programs were often co-sponsored by local child-serving groups, such as the Providence Children's Museum, the Providence Department of Parks & Recreation, and the South Side Boys & Girls Club.
"We firmly believe in the value of open-ended loose parts play epitomized by Imagination Playground…Using the blocks for an obstacle course and for large structure building first was important for them to see the possibilities."
- Janice O'Donnell, Executive Director, Providence Children's Museum
As part of the Pittsburgh AEYC advocacy efforts to reinstate play in the lives of children, the P.L.A.Y. Academy endorses the use of open-ended materials and experiences that empower creativity and inventiveness. Spurred by the donation of the Imagination Playground from The Grable Foundation, PAEYC initiated the practice of providing the Imagination Playground and Play Associate Training to its play cohorts of teachers for one-month periods of time. PAEYC has since expanded its outreach to loans to the Children's Museum, the Carnegie Library and Museum and other community events.
"...when children are given the time to create with quality equipment like these bigger-than-life blocks, they experience the power to think deeply. In the imagination of one little boy, play enabled an initial understanding of a tragic event, and even offered a way to soothe pain."
– Kenda Hammer, director, Family Literacy Center, Fox Chapel Area School District
Children's museums have gravitated towards Imagination Playground, often building full exhibits around the equipment. They report that it is a wonderful way to promote inter-age play, as well as provide programming that increases active play. Many museums also use Imagination Playground as an outreach tool, featuring it at the center of their public, family-facing events. While the National Children's Museum's permanent site was under construction, the staff was able to use Imagination Playground as the centerpiece to its Launch Zone and Museum Without Walls program. In both settings, Imagination Playground was used to create a block-building and construction zone providing children with the opportunity to engage in free play.
"When we have arts and crafts activities, the kids usually leave after they're done with their project, but with Imagination Playground, they stay for hours!"
- Jenny Hsieh, Museum Without Walls Team Leader