When I was a kid, watching Captain Kangaroo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeuBimBWU-8) on television was part of my daily routine. My favorite characters on the show were Mr. Green Jeans (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHRkHRpSwaM) and Bunny Rabbit, so it brought back vivid memories when I read Lisa Belkin’s Motherlode recent blog posting which opened with a quote from the “captain” on play. “Play is the work of children,” Captain Kangaroo (a k a Bob Keeshan) once said. “It’s very serious stuff.” Indeed it is. Belkin references Hilary Stout’s NY Times article, Effort to Restore Children’s Play Gains Momentum, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/garden/06play.html?_r=2&src=me&ref=homepage. Stout speaks about the shift in society’s attitudes toward play, especially open-ended, unstructured play. Kids today are so overstimulated and overprogrammed. Their lives revolve around multiple activities, scheduled play dates. Their play time is too often focused on fiddling with their parent’s personal electronics–iPhone, Blackberry–to pass the time. A new pro-play movement called Play For Tomorrow (http://www.ultimateblockparty.com/), hopes to make the simple act of play fashionable again. To launch this effort, a massive event in NYC’s Central Park, The Ultimate Block Party, took place this fall with more scheduled in the near future. It featured simple games like I Spy, Play-Doh, sidewalk chalk, building blocks, puzzles and more. The National Science Foundation was closely involved, advising organizers — and emphasizing to parents — the science and the educational value behind each of the carefully chosen activities. The event was a big hit as more than 50,000 kids and families participated. Ultimate Block Party was hopefully just the beginning of a new era focused on bringing back imaginative play.
The Ultimate Block Party play event in New York.
Roberta Golinkoff, Leslie Bushara and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek were organizers.