As a man, President Theodore Roosevelt preached and lived a muscular gospel of action. T.R. commanded the bully pulpit, busted corporate trusts, hunted big game, and willingly took on—both metaphorically and literally—anyone in a match of fisticuffs, even as President. But as a boy, Teedy (as he was known to his family) was weak and sickly, prone to bouts of serious, even life-threatening illness. How he remade himself is a story that has been often told but is worth looking […]
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Your hands are shaking as you fumble with the small, plastic pieces, eyes scanning the red board for the hole that matches the shape clutched in your fingers…
The tick-tick-tick of the timer is drowned out by the pounding of your heart in your ears…
You know it’s coming but cannot stop yourself from jumping when the timer stops ticking and BOOM! The game board pops up, launching all the pieces into the air and onto the floor around you.
You breathe a […]
You look up from your work email after hearing muffled giggles and the sounds of shuffling furniture, with a vague feeling that every single blanket in your house is being dragged to a central location. Don’t be alarmed, though—it’s just someone building a blanket fort!
During a trip to Tennessee earlier this year, my friend’s five-year-old daughter Christie and I spent a morning crafting an ultra-cozy blanket fort. We borrowed all the chairs from the kitchen, shoved aside a large coffee […]
Every year in early January close to 200,000 people descend on Las Vegas to attend the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and I joined the throng this year. That may seem out of place at first glance—there are many other large-scale events that might seem more in line with a visit from a representative of The Strong museum.
For instance, there are toy industry conventions, such as Toy Fair in New York City or Spielwarenmesse, its European […]
Born in racially segregated South Carolina in 1948, Louvenia (Kitty) Black Perkins grew up playing with white dolls gifted by her mother’s employers. In the 1960s, Black Perkins attended an all-black school, Carver High School, where she excelled in art. Upon graduation, she received the gift of a trip to visit her aunt and uncle in California. There Black Perkins put her name on a wait list for commercial art classes at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and, in the […]
One of the most interesting stories of the history of play in North America is its economic “democratization.” Broadly speaking, over the course of the late 19th century and throughout the 20th, a rising standard of living allowed more North Americans to devote extra time to playing.
This trend from luxury to affordability paralleled similar developments—at the beginning of the last century, education began to reach more children as school reformers pursued a policy of “classes for the masses.” And after […]
Here’s a surprise: blogging can become a kind of high-order play. I rediscover this every time readers send me witty ripostes; I learn a lot from these comebacks too.
Invented in the 1950s to simulate surfing on land, the skateboard enjoyed a second wave of popularity 20 years later as a West Coast drought obliged residents to drain their backyard swimming pools. The drought resulted in a wealth of vacant, dry, sloping, and gently-curved concrete surfaces that tempted skateboarders to sneak in and show their stuff.
I first heard of Brian Sutton-Smith when I was an undergraduate at Bowling Green University in Ohio. Though he had by then moved on to Columbia Teacher’s College, the campus still reverberated with stories of the inspired teaching and impish good humor of this prolific young scholar, a dashing New Zealand import fully in tune with the sense of liberation and rebellion growing in America in the late 1960s.