Renowned Scottish dramatist James M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, wrote, “The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.” Taking the notion a step further, 19th-century art critic and social thinker John Ruskin proffered that “mixing enough play with the work” helps ensure that each of our workdays is a happy one.
Every day should be Earth Day, of course, but once upon a time, a group of concerned citizens coordinated its very first occasion. Earth Day began on April 22, 1970, with schools across the United States hosting concurrent teach-ins to protest practices polluting natural resources. It’s apropos, then, that my lifelong respect for the environment grew out of my own classroom experiences.
Roll the dice! Deal the cards! It’s time to welcome you to Game Time!, the newest exhibit at the National Museum of Play at The Strong. Game Time! explores the stories behind the non-electronic games that have played an important part in American life and culture over the past three centuries.
Spring has brought the annual influx of chocolate bunnies into my supermarket. And April’s sunnier days with longer daylight have sent my neighborhood’s rabbits onto a quest for sprouting greenery to munch. With hares seemingly everywhere, I’ve also started noticing all the rabbits in The Strong’s collection.
The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play is a treasure trove of materials devoted to the intellectual, social, and cultural history of play. The library’s collection of more than 140,000 resources—books, periodicals, comic books, audio-visual materials—include more than 18,000 trade catalogs, the majority of which are focused on the toy, game, and recreation industries.
Cinderella has a long history of influencing popular culture and playthings. You might even say that she’s left a big footprint. The popular princess and her glass slipper came to my attention recently as I read an article about the upcoming Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella. The article focused on the creation of glass slippers—actually polyvinyl-chloride pumps bedecked with 10,000 Swarovski crystals—for the show.
Few things beat a good party game for putting people at ease—be they best friends or acquaintances at best. I attended a baby shower whose host displayed a platter of adorable infant-related items and instructed us to commit them to memory. After Jackie and her tray left the room, her mother-in-law distributed pencils and paper. However, instead of asking us to list the contents of the tray—which I’d been repeating under my breath—she asked us, “What was Jackie wearing?” Oops. We sighed and chattered and maybe (or not) remembered those brown Mary Janes.
The presents have been unwrapped, the new year celebrated, and the holiday treats devoured. Now what? For many folks, the post-holiday season appears bleak, with only frigid weather and sunless days stretching out over the weeks ahead. But for some, the fun has only begun. If you’re an avid skier, snowboarder, or snowmobiler, you’ve just started enjoying the season and delighting in fresh white blankets of snow. Perhaps you’ve even pulled out your snowshoes or the old Sno Bronco.