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Imagination Playground™ has been cited as a tactile teaching tool, a creativity-enhancer and a teamwork motivator, and has been lauded for its effectiveness with children on the autism spectrum. Learn more about how Imagination Playground™ and loose parts play can benefit your children using the resources below.
In September 2012, Dr. Jim Elicker, Assoc. Professor, Human Development & Family Studies at Purdue University, led a collaborative research project, sponsored by the A.L. Mailman Foundation and KaBOOM!, to investigate the impact of large-scale block play on the behavior of young children. Learn more about the study.
Educators can utilize Imagination Playground™ in many parts of their curriculum and free play! Imagination Playground™ provides a rich environment that encourages free play and a variety of play patterns. Imagination Playground™ blocks and other loose parts offer opportunities for creativity and sensory exploration as well as opportunities for collaborative play.
Imagination Through symbolic play, children begin to form meaning for objects in their minds and act those meanings out through gestures or by substituting items for something else. With loose parts, you see kids playing with objects that are similar in shape to the object they are pretending to use. They also exercise their ability to imagine and envision, creating their own structures and spaces, dreaming up scenarios and roles, and initiating their own activities.
Logic and mathematical skills Logic and math skills may develop as children construct with blocks. Loose parts play provides opportunities to count, make classifications, and estimate (for example, "To make the steps look right, I need to add one Block to each stack as I go.")
Problem solving When children build their own constructions with loose parts, they set up problems for themselves and invent solutions (for example, "I need a heavy weight on the back of my diving board to hold it steady.")
Social and emotional development Through play, children have opportunities to empathize with others, support one another, and develop inter and intrapersonal skills (for example, "Are you afraid it will fall? Here, I will make the bottom stronger"). Playing together with a finite supply of materials also requires children to master the art of negotiation. For example, if children are working together to build a house they must negotiate which blocks to use and how they will be placed.
Play Associates are trained adults who enable a setting in which children can direct their own play. They allow play activity to evolve naturally by maintaining a safe and secure environment, and by renewing and varying the supply of loose parts. Our goal at KaBOOM! is to continually provide resources for our play associates so they can provide the fullest, richest play opportunities possible.
The Play Associate Training can also be viewed in segments using the links below.
In addition to the online Play Associate training, Play Associates can reference Guidance to Play, a booklet written by George Forman, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amhearst. Guidance to Play shows Play Associates common activities performed by children with Imagination Playground™, translates that into child development terms, and provides ways to enhance those positive activities.
Download Guidance to Play now!
For Play Associates to better understand how children engage with Imagination Playground™, they should have a play session of their own. See how the educators at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School did it.
Imagination Playground™ should always be used in a secure and safe environment for children to play. Imagination Playground™ Blocks and Loose Parts are intended for children ages two and up. Always follow all applicable safety rules and procedures with Imagination Playground™. Play Associates, parents, or caregivers should always be present during play sessions. Monitor where the materials are taken, and be sure they are not deposited within the bounds of the active areas of a playground including areas with fixed play equipment, where they could be a hazard to running and sliding children. Play sessions may become active and boisterous. Be watchful and ready to step in and give direction. Encourage children to take turns and share. If there are too many Blocks and Loose Parts in the given area, put some away. Please be aware of particular safety issues:
Imagination Playground™ in a Cart was designed to be customized to a community's needs. It is attached to a set of wheels that allows it to be moved indoors or outdoors as needed on a solid, level surface. It must be stored in a secure, enclosed space. It should not be left outdoors without supervision, and should be covered from rain, snow and other inclement weather. Use a non-toxic detergent and water with a sponge or a soft-bristle scrub brush to clean your Imagination Playground™ Blocks and storage unit. Do not use strong cleaners (such as bleach), which can potentially harm the surface of the Blocks. The inside of your carts should be dry before the Blocks and other loose parts are stored inside.