Nature Provides: Play in the Park

Nature Provides: Play in the Park

“I thought we were going to the park!” For many children, the word park is synonymous with playground. When students arrive for a field trip to Frick Park , many are confused when they step off the bus and are greeted with a scene of woodlands, meadows, and streams. Their preconceived notion of “park” does not match what they see in front of them, but despite the lack of expensive playground equipment, this natural space has plenty of play opportunities.

Free Summer Fun in Downtown Pittsburgh!

Free Summer Fun in Downtown Pittsburgh!

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership develops and implements programs to enhance the Downtown neighborhood, cultivate a vibrant residential population and stimulate a diverse business community. We also promote and market Downtown Pittsburgh to millions of people as the region’s premier destination to live, work, and of course, PLAY! One of our main goals is to activate underused spaces in the city, such as parking lots, bridges, or alleyways, and transform them into playful event venues with engaging activities for children and adults alike. Having the opportunity to play within the chaos of city life or simply experiencing playfulness in an unexpected setting can be transformative, and we believe that keeping this focus helps our city remain vibrant and exciting year-round. Summertime is almost here, and we can’t wait for you to see what the PDP has planned for this season in Downtown. Come play with us!!

Breaking Cultural Barriers is as Easy as Playing

Breaking Cultural Barriers is as Easy as Playing

We are lucky to live in a city that is becoming more diverse every year. The immigrant population in Pittsburgh continues to grow with more than 80,000 immigrants who now call our region home. However this diversity also brings new challenges and barriers we need often struggle to overcome. As an immigrant myself, I know first hand that there are many barriers that new Americans face in this country. The cultural differences, more often than not, make it difficult for organic interactions to take place between immigrants and U.S. born individuals and can lead to isolation and discrimination. One of the biggest barriers is the inability to communicate in the same language. When my family first arrived to York, a small town in Central Pennsylvania in 2007, we didn’t speak a word of English. I cannot explain how difficult it was not being able to communicate with others for my first few months in this country. My little sister, who was seven at the time, taught me one of the best ways to communicate with others without needed to speak the same language: Playing!

Art at the Market

Art at the Market

Carnegie Museum of Art encourages you to play with your food! A new program, launched during farmer’s market season 2018, saw us sharing our love of fruits and vegetables with audiences in Swissvale, the North Side, and Wilkinsburg. Teaching artists and program director Valerie Herrero traveled to farmer’s markets in these communities to share art making activities with children and families.

Playful Routines

Playful Routines

UPMC Children’s Hospital’s Family Care Connection family supports centers work with families of young children often discussing routines as a key factor in preventative health and stress management for the whole family.

Routines have the power to create healthy balance within our personal lives and within our families.  However, sometimes routines can become stale. Given the importance of routines, shouldn’t they be engaging, inspiring and playful instead?  Here are some ideas to add excitement and thoughtful variation to routines.

Advocating for Recess

Advocating for Recess

In the summer of 2017 Trying Together wrote the post Right to Recess to highlight the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits of recess and to provide researched best practices and advocacy tips. Just a few months later, beginning in October 2017, a team of 15 organizations interested in advocating for recess and play began meeting on a monthly basis. The recess advocacy team is a group of organizations dedicated to health and wellness, education, and play with a focus on recess practices and policies in pre-k through 6th grade in Allegheny County. A survey served as the first step in an effort to gather information on school recess practices. The survey was distributed in both English and Spanish and gave us insight into practices, perceptions, and policies on recess throughout the county.

Work your creative muscles by choosing to reuse!

Work your creative muscles by choosing to reuse!

Our Creative Education Team meets a lot of people (especially adults!) who claim they aren’t creative. We respectfully but emphatically disagree! We believe that everyone has the capacity to be creative, they simply need to exercise their creative muscles. Play is a wonderful way to do this. Using reclaimed materials to enhance play can take this “creative workout” even further.

When nature gives you rain, make mud pies!

When nature gives you rain, make mud pies!

We’ve had record rainfall this year in Pittsburgh, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun outside. Mud--yes, mud--offers endless opportunities for sensory exploration and dramatic play. Or, as one source put it, “Mud is a versatile and under-rated material.”

In Kinder Nature Camp at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, we have a whole day dedicated to dirt! Campers spend the day learning what dirt is made of, what lives in it, and engage in various dirt related activities, the best of which involve mud.

Pretend Play - Why it's important to your child's learning

Pretend Play - Why it's important to your child's learning

Many parents have asked over the years why children would be encouraged to engage in pretend play in the housekeeping, woodworking and block play areas in a  preschool classroom and/or infant/toddler setting. It’s important for your child to be ready for kindergarten and are questioning what early childhood professionals are thinking.  Pretend play for both boys and girls in the various areas of the room greatly contributes to their respective learning process and integrates their understanding of their life experiences.  

Pretend play is symbolic play that allows children to substitute objects at hand and pretend these objects are something else that they have seen at home, on television or in the community. Think of the brain at work here- your children is remembering, creating and then verbalizing what they are doing.  Here you have your child engaged in creative arts, problem solving with their cognitive abilities and communicating. In fact they are learning!!

PLAY

PLAY

By: Iris Marzolf, Venture Outdoors Photography Intern

What does being outside mean to you? Take a moment and think. Maybe it’s a sanctuary—a place to escape a high-crime neighborhood, leave the city and smell fresh air, or just be free.

For me, the outdoors means fun. As a little girl I was painfully shy, and the outdoors was one of the only places I could relax. Moving around took my mind off being self-conscious, and I could play with other kids without feeling anxiety. Most of my happy childhood memories are from playing outside with my sisters. Whether it be sliding around in mud, catching fireflies, raking leaves, or throwing snowballs, there was something fun to do no matter the season. Play and the outdoors go hand in hand.

Ways to Play at Phipps Conservatory

Ways to Play at Phipps Conservatory

At Let’s Move Pittsburgh, we believe in the importance of daily play! With the first month of spring underway, the many different ways to play at Phipps Conservatory are more exciting than ever! The main conservatory pathway within Phipps Conservatory alone is over 2,500 feet! That’s 2,695.7 feet of space to hop and jump and stroll and wiggle through, to be exact.

Playtime at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Family PlayShop

Playtime at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Family PlayShop

As we adults go about our busy modern lives, we often forget why young children need to play. It's easy to overlook that long before parents send their child to meet their first preschool or kindergarten teacher, children are learning with their families.  

Play is an essential way that parents are their child's first and most important teachers. Every interaction a child has in the early years helps to form synapses, or connections, in the brain, building the physical infrastructure for future learning.

The Art of Play

The Art of Play

Last Saturday, I spent the better part of an hour with a young 7th grade artist in The Art Connection (TAC), the longstanding program for children in grades 5-9 at Carnegie Museum of Art, trying to figure out how to best peel the outside layer off of a golf ball. (I had no idea it was pink inside! But, according to my young friend with obvious prior experience, not all are pink. “It depends on the brand,” he said casually). Pliers, a coping saw, a nail and hammer. Some mild success. I was totally engrossed. My new friend was working on his latest project, where students were challenged to transform a functional, everyday object into something extraordinary. Generous enough to include me in his process, this young student and I were engaged in experimental play — a familiar state for an artist. That’s how we do what we do, after all.  

3 historic Pittsburgh buildings that are play perfect

3 historic Pittsburgh buildings that are play perfect

This article is the first of a guest written blog as part of our Member Blog Series, which typically showcases Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative Members' efforts and commitment to ensure that play is a critical element in the lives of people of all ages. Each month, a different member organization will share their take on how play is a part of the work they do. The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative hopes that these stories of play from our diverse set of member organizations will encourage and inspire leaders in communities, businesses, schools, and families to prioritize play every day. This guest blog written by Brendan Hufford, a veteran teacher who believes creating healthier children starts with play. He writes often about family and fatherhood at BrendanHufford.com.

Finding the perfect family-friendly place can be tricky. Aside from wanting your children to have a great time while learning, playing and appreciating the trip, you want to enjoy it too. But, it’s possible to get both. Here are a few places that both you and your children can enjoy without having to leave the city.

Play and Discipline

Play and Discipline

This article is part of our Member Blog Series, which showcases Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative Members' efforts and commitment to ensure that play is a critical element in the lives of people of all ages. Each month, a different member organization will share their take on how play is a part of the work they do. The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative hopes that these stories of play from our diverse set of member organizations will encourage and inspire leaders in communities, businesses, schools, and families to prioritize play every day.

Can more play in schools increase positive behavior?

We know exclusionary discipline is a problem.

The Trying Together public policy agenda calls for an end to suspensions and expulsions for children birth through age eight in all early childhood settings. Our vision to eliminate exclusionary discipline focuses on preventative and responsive strategies that support healthy child development.

Data from the U.S. Education Department indicates that racial and gender disparities exist: African American boys make up 18% of preschool enrollment, but 48% of preschoolers suspended more than once. Disproportionate impact for African American students persists throughout the K-12 years.

Responding to the problem, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education created a policy statement to raise awareness about the negative educational and life outcomes associated with suspending students in the early years. Earlier this year the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released its own policy statement. The announcement - Reduction of Expulsion and Suspension in Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania - provided guidance for early childhood programs to work with staff, community partners, and families on steps to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline. Locally, Pittsburgh Public Schools recently convened a committee to make recommendations for alternatives to suspensions for K-2 students (the PPS pre-k program already prohibits exclusionary discipline).

Playing our Way to Safety

Playing our Way to Safety

This article is part of our Member Blog Series, which showcases Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative Members' efforts and commitment to ensure that play is a critical element in the lives of people of all ages. Each month, a different member organization will share their take on how play is a part of the work they do. The Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative hopes that these stories of play from our diverse set of member organizations will encourage and inspire leaders in communities, businesses, schools, and families to prioritize play every day.

On Wednesday, October 18, a remarkable thing happened.

James Brown songs boomed down the block. Kazoos, cowbells, and hats with plumes paraded back and forth across the street. Children, older adults, and everyone in between danced and carried signs reading “Watch for Crossing Neighbors” or “Drive like your Nonna lives here.” If you were passing through the Bloomfield Bridge Intersection after work that day, it’s possible you even glimpsed a hula-hooping dinosaur.