Mojo Monday: Let’s Play!

“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Do you remember when your days as a kid revolved around riding your bike, building forts, making playdough creations, coloring, creating storylines about Barbie and Ken as they cruised through your backyard in the pink corvette? Speaking of Ken check out this fun short video of Ken, who stars in the new Toy Story 3 movie.

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Play is fun! But play is also a whole lot more. Humans have played since earliest times, and philosophers and scholars have thought about it for centuries. More than 2,000 years ago, Plato suggested: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

Play is essential for learning and human development. Play:

Sharpens our minds

Helps us grow

Keeps us healthy

Boosts our creativity

When children play, they learn to:

Solve problems

Make decisions

Express themselves and communicate with others

Recognize boundaries

Children who play do better in school and become more successful adults.

When we don’t play, we are:

Less creative and productive

More sedentary, more easily fatigued

More likely to encounter social problems and emotional stress

Play also helps us understand history and culture. The way we play shows:

Who we are

What we value

How we regard others

Change over time

Future possibilities

Play can play a role in bringing people together and even be a tool to creating peace. There is an inspiring organization called Ultimate Peace that builds bridges of friendship and understanding for youth from different social and cultural backgrounds around the world. They focus on fun and education using the exhilarating and character building sport of Ultimate Frisbee as their tool. They are raising money for Ultimate Camps in the Middle East that bring together Israeli and Palestinian youth. Here in the USA they are currently partnering with an organization called Emerald City Ultimate in Seattle, WA, in order to provide 15 free Ultimate Frisbee clinics for underserved youth, within the U.S.A., who do not have the opportunity to learn or play the game.

At the 2008 Serious Play conference, designer Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play. Right at the beginning he comments how adults can be self-conscious about creating and can be inhibited in expressing ideas and sharing their creations. In contrast he states that most children will happily share their art and their ideas.

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age. Here is his fascinating and at times serious talk he gave at TED on how play is much more than fun.

What did you love to play as a kid? Do you have special memories of favorite toys? How do you play now as an adult?

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