Power of Play (Updated)

July 19, 2015

Remember those carefree summer days you had as a kid, playing tag or pickup softball in the park? Sure, it may just seem like fun and games, but it may also have been invaluable training. A new generation of researchers is discovering that play is how the young brain prepares for adult life. This hour — as if you needed a reason — a reminder to get out and have some fun.

  1. Learning Through Play

    Developmental psychologist Peter Gray says play helps children make sense of the world, and teaches them the social and emotional skills they'll need as a adults. He's the author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Studsents for Life.

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  2. A Perfect Playground

    Let's say you want to design a perfect playground for kids. What would it look like? We turned to some experts to find out — they're 3rd graders from Madison's Marquette Elementary School.

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  3. The Strangest Playground In the World

    In a small town in northern Wales you'll find a playground where it's normal for kids to play with rusty tools or build fires. It's called the Land, and it's an example of an adventure playground — where kids are free to take risks. The Land's manager, Claire Griffiths, gives us an insider's view of an adventure playground.

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  4. An Animated Life

    Shortly before he was three, Ron Suskind's son was diagnosed with a rare form of autism that left him withdrawn and silent. Years later, the family used Disney films to draw him out. Ron Suskind writes about it in his book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism.

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  5. Video Games In The Classroom

    According to one estimate, the average young person spends about 8 hours a week playing video games. While many parents are worried about all that screen time, there's an emerging body of research that suggests some social and psychological benefits to gaming. And now there's a new generation of educators who want to bring video games into the classroom, not only to make it more fun, but also more effective. Journalist Greg Toppo writes about their efforts in "The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter."

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