100+Top Play Resources (Now 300+)

by Carol Torgan, Ph.D. on July 5, 2009

'Just Rome' courtesy of Pensiero on Flickr

'Just Rome' courtesy of Pensiero at Flickr

[ This list currently has over 300 entries. I am trying to keep it updated, so please let me know what I am missing!  Thanks, Carol]

There’s growing recognition that play is not just, well, child’s play. Mounting evidence shows play has a crucial role in cognitive, physiological, behavioral and social development and adaptation at all ages and stages of life.

In essence, we need to take play seriously. Play has been recognized as a right of every child by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. It is also the right of teens, adults and seniors. As we learn more about the benefits of play, it’s apparent it belongs in living rooms and boardrooms, and in sand lots and parking lots – any place there’s room to move. Play sculpts our brains, our bodies, our relationships, and our future.

Below is a wide ranging – but by no means exhaustive – list of play resources that includes organizations, resources, guidelines and reports, current news stories, books, audio and video, e-newsletters, blogs, twitter hashtags, image and design collections, programs, locations, and events.

Many of these sites offer extensive resource lists and news feeds of their own that integrate the fields of education, urban design, transportation, the environment, nature, physical activity, sports, nutrition, and obesity. While the list focuses on more recent resources that mainly center on play, there are many, many outstanding resources I’ve overlooked. Please feel free to add them in the comment section…on your way out the door to play.

Play: Organizations (alphabetical)

Play: Resources (alphabetical)

Play: Guidelines & Reports (most recent first)

Play: Books (alphabetical order)

  • 50 dangerous things (you should let your children do).  Gever Tulley, NAL Trade (Reprint edition), 2011.
  • The ambiguity of play. Brian Sutton-Smith, Harvard University Press, 2001.
  • Children at play: an American history . Howard Chudacoff, NYU Press, 2007.
  • The dangerous book for boys. Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden, William Morrow, 2007.
  • The daring book for girls. Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz, William Morrow, 2007.
  • Exuberant animal: the power of health, play and joyful movement. Frank Forencich, AuthorHouse, 2006.
  • From ritual to record: The nature of modern sports. Allen Guttmann, Columbia University Press, 1979.**
  • The genesis of animal play: testing the limits. Gordon Burghardt, The MIT Press, 2005.
  • The genius of play: Celebrating the spirit of childhood. Sally Jenkinson, Hawthorn Press Ltd, 2001.
  • Homo Ludens – A study of the play element in culture. Johan Huizinga, Beacon Press, 1971.
  • KaBOOM!: How One Man Built a Movement to Save Play. Darell Hammond, Rodale Books, 2011.
  • Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Richard Louv, Algonquin Books, 2008.
  • Man, play and games. Roger Caillois, University of Illinois Press , 1961. **
  • Play = learning: how play motivates and enhances children’s cognitive and social-emotional growth. Dorothy G. Singer, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (eds). Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Play as if your life depends on it: functional exercise and living for Homo sapiens. Frank Forencich, Go Animal, 2003.
  • Play dreams and imitation in childhood. Jean Piaget, W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1962.**
  • Play. How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. Stuart Brown, with Christopher Vaughan. Avery, New York, 2009.
  • Playing and learning outdoors: Making provision for high quality experiences in the outdoor environment. Jan White, Routledge, 2007.
  • Play reconsidered: sociological perspectives on human expression. Thomas S. Henricks, University of Illinois Press, 2006.
  • The Games We Played: A Celebration of Childhood and Imagination . Steven A. Cohen, Simon & Schuster, 2001.
  • The play ethic: A manifesto for a different way of living. Pat Kane, Macmillan UK, 2005.
  • The power of play. David Elkind, Da Capo Press, 2007.
  • The theory of the leisure class. Thorstein Veblen, Penguin Classics, 1991.**
  • Under the sky: Playing, working and enjoying adventures in the open air – a handbook for parents, carers and teachers. Sally Schweizer, Rudolf Steiner Press, April 2009.

** Recommended by Dr. Jack Berryman, noted sports historian, Professor, Department of Bioethics and Humanities, University of Washington School of Medicine.

Play: Audio & videos (Most recent first)

Playful popular videos

Play: Image and design collections (alphabetical order)

Play: e-Newsletters (alphabetical order)

Play: Blogs (alphabetical)

Play: Twitter http://twitter.com/

Hashtags  #playoutdoors  #playoutside  #recessrevolution #goplay  #parks
(These streams are a great way to find play-centric individuals and organizations to follow)

Play: Programs (alphabetical order)

Play: Locations

Play: Conferences

Play: Events

Play: Current News Stories (most recent first)

Related posts on play

Note: I have bookmarked all these resources on the social bookmarking site Del.icio.us at http://delicious.com/ctorgan/

Photo: “Just Rome” courtesy of Pensiero at Flickr

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Melitsa July 5, 2009 at 7:34 pm

It is so satisfying to see such a long list of play people :)

Carol July 6, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Melitsa – Thanks for your comment. You have a great site, Play Activities (http://www.play-activities.com/), and I love the Wordless Wednesday photos!

Michele July 8, 2009 at 3:04 pm

So impressed with this list! I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to compile, link and bookmark. Great job.

Carol July 8, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Michele – Thanks so much. I’m thrilled to share so many outstanding play resources, including Play Parks Central.

Melynda July 9, 2009 at 9:14 am

Thanks for including Your Wild Child in your list. It’s nice to be in such great company!

Morgan Leichter-Saxby July 9, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Carole – thanks so much for including me in such excellent company!

There’s so many great ones here that I didn’t even know about – am off to do some clicking right now.

Morgan

Carol July 10, 2009 at 7:17 am

Melynda and Morgan – you are 2 folks I would love to climb trees with! (Melynda celebrates the Wild Child in all of us and Morgan is a Go To for information on playwork. )
Here’s another program that celebrates play: ‘Empower ME’ http://empowerme2b.org/ which is a “by kids for kids” movement inspiring all kids to make healthy behavior changes.

Hannah Merriman September 8, 2009 at 6:46 am

http://www.thefunfed.com is a London based organisation which offers twice weekly play sessions specifically for adults. Physical, creative, craft-related, subversive, occasionally performative, diverse and delightful.

http://playingaroundtheworld.blogspot.com/ is our blog that tracks the findings of our fun explorer in residence who is travelling the world to find out where great play is happening, what it feels like, how to bring more of it home and why we lost so much of it in our society in the first place.

Carol September 8, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Hannah –
Thank you so much for sharing your great resources. Your blog, Playtime, may have one of the best taglines around, “I’ve been hired to find the best fun in the world.”

Deborah McNelis November 3, 2010 at 11:56 am

Congratulations for this post! It is so extremely valuable. I will be sharing this with everyone. We can not promote play enough. A focus of my work is to create the awareness that play is a critical aspect to optimally developing brains. Children need loving interaction, sleep, nutrition …. and play. Hopefully all of this will soon be included in EVERY child’s day!
Thanks again.

Judy Derpack November 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm

WOWEEZOWEE! This is amazing. Thank you so much! I am the instructor/director of a cooperative preschool and will share this with my membership! Thanks again!

Melissa {adventuroo} November 18, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Thanks for listing my blog! This is quite an amazing list you have here- I’m bookmarking it, tweeting it, facebooking it and stumbling it. :-)

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. November 19, 2010 at 11:10 am

Deborah, Judy and Melissa -
Thanks for your nice comments. As a reminder, many of the organizations listed also have wonderful lists of resources on their sites. You might want to take a look at a brand new study that just came out that I added to the list, ‘The crucial role of recess in schools.’ In this comprehensive review, the authors conclude, “Recess is a complement to, not a replacement for, physical education. Both promote activity and a healthy lifestyle; however, recess–particularly unstructured recess and free play–provides a unique contribution to a child’s creative, social, and emotional development. From the perspective of children’s health and well-being, recess time should be considered a child’s personal time and should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons.” See; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21039550

Juliet @CreativeSTAR November 19, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Great list – thanks so much.

A couple of additions:

London Play – great resources and advice http://www.londonplay.org.uk/

Tim Gill’s website Rethinking Childhood http://www.rethinkingchildhood.com/ He co-authored “Managing Risk in Play Provision” and does awesome presentations.

“The Play Ethic” by Pat Kane. Quite an academic book but well-respected in the UK

Go Play – 25 inspirational and pioneering play projects in Scotland. This is a website to watch. The organisations involved are doing fantastic work and this also involved engaging schools in free play
http://www.inspiringscotland.org.uk/Home/Go-Play

abbie November 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm

WOW! That is amazing. So glad that play is back!

Juliet @CreativeSTAR November 19, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Oops! I see you have London Play listed. My apologies.

jenny @ let the children play November 20, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Thank you so much for including me on the list – thrilled to bits :) And thank you for putting together such an impressive list. It is such a handy resource for us all to have.

Beth Kimberly November 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Love this wonderful, growing list. Great work! Thank you for including Playworks. We also feature a blog (http://www.playworks.org/blog) and an event–Play On conference (http://playonconference.org/).

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. November 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Juliet, Abbie, Jenny, and Beth – Thank you all for your kind comments and for all you do to promote play. I have added all your great suggestions to the list, as well as several other new items.
- Carol

Kathy Villareal December 18, 2010 at 2:15 pm

This was a very informative site for getting ideas as to how to help kids play outside and to get active outside and not just sit infront a TV all day. thank you..

Sheri Dufresne January 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm

What a complete and informative web site! Quite often I find myself defending “learning through play.” I hope to recommend this site to parents look at at their leisure and make informed decisions about how their children are spending their time.

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. January 10, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Sheri and Kathy – Thanks so much for your input. Please let me know if you have additions, or if you have ideas of other categories that should be added. Sheri – perhaps the best category for parents (or anyone) to start with is the popular videos. Once you see others play, you can’t help but want to go outside and play!

Michelle January 27, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Hi there,

I watched a TV special on creative play in the school yard a few years ago and I’m trying to find information on that. Does anyone have a title or website for me? The research showed that by putting different objects in the schoolyard, kids were more creative and results were better in the classroom
Thanks

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. February 2, 2011 at 10:03 am

Hi Michelle – I don’t know the answer to your question but have queried some play gurus for you to see what we can find out.

Bethe February 2, 2011 at 11:50 am

Hi there: I am not sure of the exact program you are referring to, but there is a lot of research out there for the use of loose parts in playgrounds.

You can find a webinar we did on loose parts here: http://www.aahperd.org/headstartbodystart/toolbox/webinarsAndPodcasts/archivedwebinars.cfm

Also, I suggest reading the Playwork Primer, which covers many topics that should be of interest: http://allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/PlayworkPrimer_2010.pdf

Cheers- Bethe

Ian and Mira March 17, 2011 at 2:43 am

This is a fantastic list of play resources. I wanted to mention a website our family has created, http://melbourneplaygrounds.com.au, which reviews playgrounds and other Kids activities in Melbourne, Australia. We have reviewed more than 2100 playgrounds with almost 25,000 photos. Melbourne has about 3200 playgrounds. I wonder whether any other city in the world has more playgrounds than this?

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. March 17, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Ian and Mira,
Wow!! I have added your amazing site to the list. You have done an incredible job indexing all the playgrounds, providing photos, descriptions, and including a search feature. I bet you are right that Melbourne has more playgrounds than any other city. How lucky you and the families of Melbourne are. Thank you so much for providing this valuable playground resource.

Christie-Childhood 101 August 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm

What a great list! Would love to see my blog http://childhood101.com on your list of play blogs, especially the recently launched Playopedia collection which collates great play ideas from blogs all around the world – you can find it here http://childhood101.com/playopedia/

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. August 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

Christie -
Thanks so much for bringing your blog to my attention. I’ve added it to the blog list. I’ve also added Playopedia to the Resources. Not only is this an incredible resource, it’s an absolutely gorgeous site! (I esp love the coffee play dough recipe)

Pat Rumbaugh The Play Lady August 12, 2011 at 5:27 am

http://www.Takomaplays.org was formed in 2009 in Takoma Park, MD to encourage everyone to go out and play. We are A Playful City USA. We hold Play Days, Picnic, Play & Parade Watch, Playful Yard Sale, Traveling Play Groups, Streets closed to Play, Installation of Mosaic Artwork with the word Play & now have had a Playful Bench created by wood carver Jim Calder. Come Play with us September 24, 2011 as we host our third Play Day outside, learn to carve a sweet potato, dance with Zumba and just have a wonderful time playing. The Play Lady Pat Rumbaugh

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. August 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Pat,
You are indeed The Play Lady! Takoma Park is a great example of how a community can encourage everyone to go out and play through simple, local events.

Ray Wills September 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Outstanding work.Ive added this page to my links on childs play on my website which covers the field of childs play as well as other areas.

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. September 3, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Ray,
Your site, The Gypsy Poet, is a wonderful celebration of children’s play, images, adventure, words, and all combinations of those. I’ve added it to the Resources list above. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention and for adding this site to your list of play links.

Ann Saylor January 18, 2012 at 8:47 am

Wow, your list is incredible! I’ve been writing books about play for 5 years, and I’m still awed by the vast collection of resources you shared. Thanks!

We are sharing a blog series titled Friday Playdays this year at http://theassetedge.net/blog/, where we will share games and strategies related to playing with purpose. We’d love for all of you to share your favorite play ideas there too!

ann

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. January 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Ann,
Your site is great and I’ve added The Asset Edge to the blog list. Thanks so much for visiting and for sharing your site and resources.

Brittany April 7, 2012 at 6:43 am

Have you checked out playathomemom3.blogspot.com…awesome play blog! :)

Meryl Neiman April 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm

So glad to have found this list! What an incredible resource. My Co-Founder and I blog about play in general and play date challenges, in particular, at our play date scheduling website, http://www.playdateplanet.com/blog. Our goal is to foster unstructured play and socialization for children by making it easier for busy parents to create, post, and accept play dates online.

Caroline Kerr April 8, 2012 at 4:26 am

Hi Carol

What an amazing list – well done you!!!

I run an organisation called NI at Play – based in Northern Ireland we promote the benefits of play especially outdoors!! It would be an honor to be added to the list!!

Keep up the great work!

Caroline

Randi Albertsen April 8, 2012 at 10:24 pm

What a wonderful list of resources on play. I’m reading Stuart Brown’s book, play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. It’s a great read, very informative, and reinforces all of the benefits of play.

Carol Torgan, Ph.D. April 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Brittany, Meryl, Caroline, Randi – Thanks for your great comments and wonderful resources! I’ve gotten behind in updating this list but added your great suggestions and will add more soon.

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