Play Experts KABOOM! and PLLAN Team Up to Scale Playful Learning Installations Nationwide Link copied!

March 4, 2021

Washington D.C.

KABOOM!, the national non-profit focused on ending playspace inequity for good, is teaming up with Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN), an organization that fosters the creation of playful learning infrastructure and activities in the everyday spaces where children and families gather, to scale the playful learning approach in communities across the United States.

Kids typically spend just 20 percent of their waking hours in a classroom. Outside of school, racial disparities and systemic disinvestment translate to fewer options for recreation and play. These realities underscore the need for easily accessible spaces that encourage play and informal learning, particularly in communities of color.

To meet this need, KABOOM! and PLLAN are forging a new partnership to create playful learning spaces that meet the needs of kids and communities. Playful learning is a research-based approach that harnesses both free play — spaces designed for children to discover and explore — and guided play, which encourages the child to lead the way through environments that have been specifically designed to spark learning.

Playful learning is featured in national projects, working with communities in Santa Ana, California; Seattle, Washington; Dayton, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and others to co-design spaces promoting children’s engagement in developing the skills needed for 21st-Century success. In Philadelphia, playful learning can be found at several sites across the city.

One example is Urban Thinkscape, an interactive project that encourages the use of number, spatial, color, and letter language between caregivers and children through puzzle walls, a variation of hopscotch, a search and find task projected onto the ground, and a storytelling game. PLLAN’s strategies to increase the quantity and quality of caregiver-child interactions also stretch beyond the United States with collaborations in India, South Africa, Kenya, and across Europe.

This partnership also builds on the recent success of Play Everywhere Philly, a program created by KABOOM! and funded by William Penn Foundation that supports child development and literacy skills through interactive play installations in everyday locations across Philadelphia. PLLAN and Community Design Collaborative provide technical assistance to the 16 winning community groups as part of the program.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of kids across America. In communities that have faced long-term disinvestment, the effect of learning loss caused by remote learning will almost certainly compound the deep racial and socioeconomic disparities in education that existed before the pandemic. The need for learning interventions outside the classroom, where kids spend the majority of their time, has never been greater.

KABOOM! and PLLAN are actively seeking partners to help scale this unique approach to other cities and regions, enriching the fabric of neighborhoods with enticing opportunities for playful learning that help improve educational outcomes for kids.