Sledding, South Florida Style

Kids have been playing with cardboard boxes since the beginning of disposable packaging– and rolling down hills since the invention of gravity. But, in today’s world, having the chance to do just that is a big deal.

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How to make an invention

by Jennifer Sneeden Making an invention is very difficult… The first problem is that you might not know right away what you’re trying to invent. That means you’ll need to have lots of materials to choose from. And all those materials may feel a bit overwhelming...

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Flying

This time last year my youngest son, Steven, had been safely back home in the States for about a month, after a year in Afghanistan. My heart still crashed through my stomach at a radio mention of casualties in Afghanistan. I stood paralyzed at the grocery store with...

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Taking Action for Play: 2013 US Play Coalition Conference

Last year Jaime and I attended the US Play Coalition Conference on the Value of Play at Clemson University, where we marveled at the world of play advocates surrounding us – the academics, the preschool and K-12 teachers, the doctors, the athletes, the parks and rec...

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Steady Yourself

A little boy glanced at me from across the playground. Both his hands were on a big green post. He took his first steps to climb down off of a small tower as our eyes met. I saw one hand flutter, a tiny wiggle in his body, some small unsteadiness. He looked away,...

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Scary!

We’re right on the cusp of Halloween, a time when it’s fun to think about all the things that scare us. To me, part of the magic of Halloween is the idea that frightening and fun can go hand in hand. Kids who might otherwise be scared of witches and ghosts and...

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Imagination Made Real

The sledgehammer swings up to the dripping stone ceiling and comes crashing down. Rock splinters under the force of the falling hammer. The cave’s dank, dampness permeates his every movement. Sweat dripping from his sore muscles, he fights despondency to swing deeply...

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Some Serious Resources on Play

We don’t have leaf piles or snow piles here in south Florida, but occasionally we have large construction sand piles. Yesterday I drove by one. It was a Saturday so there weren’t any workers around. But there were eight, maybe ten kids climbing up and rolling or...

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Play helps a neighborhood find a sense of community

Six months ago, we moved to a new neighborhood. We were moving from a townhouse with almost no yard, and while my boys seemed to be fine playing in a tiny patch of nature, I was hoping for something larger. Our new house has a fenced back yard and a covered patio:...

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Games to get kids talking

My college roommate Hannah is a marvel. She looks for the fun in parenting, and she finds it. In the process, kids of all ages open up to her. I’ve never met anyone who could get kids talking the way that she can (okay, that’s not quite true; Susan can too). Each...

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New Scientific Research Proves: Recess is More Fun!

Keith Richardson is a member of the Sunflower Creative Arts Board of Directors. He is a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and is dad to Lawrence, a Sunflower theatre student. During the 1970s, researchers tried to teach language to...

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Go With the Flow

"Being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the...

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Risk and safety (part 2): Refiguring fearful equations

On Monday I wrote about how, as parents, our emotions and resulting fear can cloud our ability to effectively assess risk in our children's lives. It isn't easy but experiencing risk is the only way we all learn. The US is lagging far behind in blowing away the clouds...

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Balancing Risk and Safety

In my work with children and families, I have been thinking more and more about risk assessment, the importance of risk for healthy development, how to balance risk with reasonable safety, how experiences managing risk build capable children who become responsible for...

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US Play Coalition Conference: play’s the thing!

Sunflower Managing Director, Jennifer Ligeti, and I recently attended the US Play Coalition Conference on the Value of Play at Clemsen University. We came back with heads full of practical information from the leading thinkers and advocates in the world of play. Here...

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Make it Safer. Add Risk.

We're working hard to shift the conversation regarding child safety to include risk as a conduit for learning, rather than a situation that must be avoided. When adults who design childhood play spaces have the ability to assess risk and see risk as a benefit,...

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Not Just for Kids

I spent my first week in Växjö, Sweden, pedaling the hundreds of bike paths strewn across the county. One especially sunny weekday afternoon I was speeding around the lake enjoying the feeling of being thousands of miles from home. As I rounded a bend, the trees...

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Where are all the kids?

Sunflower blogger Jaime won 1st place in KaBOOM!’s recent guest blogging contest. Check it out below and on KaBOOM!’s Play Today blog. Then read more great Sunflower posts by Jaime here. Victoria won 4th place in the same contest! Check out her winning entry here....

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Play and Trust

Sitting at a train crossing tonight, I looked up expecting to see freight cars zooming by. Only flat cars carrying huge dull looking container boxes flashed in front of me. I was sad to realize that the freight cars I loved as a kid might not exist anymore. Growing up...

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