The Power Of Play

Many of us enjoy and find inspiration in TED Talks. You may be surprised how many TED Talks are about the importance of play. Some are posted below.

Toys not only entertain, but ultimately empower kids to design and share their own imaginative inventions.

Renowned psychologist, Jean Piaget, summed it up best: “play is a child’s work.” During play, children develop cognitive abilities like abstract thinking and problem solving. Opportunities to play also present opportunities to socialise.

  • Play is how children naturally learn and it is as important to children’s development as eating and sleeping.
  • Play stimulates brain growth in children at the most critical time in their development.
  • Play lays down the foundation for later learning.

Take, for example, doll play. Dolls and action figures are some of the most popular toys because they’re (sometimes quite literally) vehicles for so many different play patterns. Some kids collect dolls while others use them for storytelling, battling, or nurture play. The goal here isn’t to replace the child’s imagination, but to spark it with creative tools.

Toys like LEGOs, appeal to a variety of play patterns (modelling, collecting, storytelling, invention) over a range of ages and developmental stages. These are called “grow-with-me” toys because how kids play with the toys adapts over time with their cognitive development, from DUPLOs to LEGOs to MindStorms.

Traditionally, toys and games offer very different approaches to play. Toys are kid-driven, tangible catalysts for imagination. Games, on the other hand, represent a collection of rules and challenges for achieving a pre-determined objective. Until recently, video games (and their digital platforms) have been similarly limited, but with the advent of mobile touch-screen devices like the iPad that allow for digital play, these two worlds are colliding to create tangible, kinesthetic, mobile play experiences for kids.

Steve Keil and other TED speakers believe play can change the world for the better. It is documented that it can make you healthier, smarter, more productive, more social and happier (did you know most serial killers did not play as children – check out Stuart Brown’s TED talk).

Steve Keil: A Manifesto for Play, for Bulgaria and Beyond 

Steve says:

-We need a revolution. That the more we play, the bigger our brains are… and we develop more emotional maturity if we play more.

-We develop better decision-making ability if we play more.

-Bears that play more survive longer, not the bears that learn how to fish better.

Hillel Cooperman: Legos for grownups 

On play, Hillel says, “The Dark Ages are the time between when you put away the Lego for the last time as a kid and [when] you decide as an adult that it is okay to play with a kids’ toy.”

Dr. Stuart Brown says play is more than fun 

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.