Terri-Nichelle Bradley is the founder and principal of play at Brown Toy Box, an educational toy company dedicated to improving the lives of Black children by cultivating their curiosity, expanding their skills, and underscoring Black excellence. She is a graduate of Augsburg College and has earned numerous awards for her work, including a 2019 Civic Impact Award from the Center for Civic Innovation and the 2021 Social Entrepreneur of the Year from the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Leaders in Corporate Citizenship. Key words: Brown Toy Box; diversity and toys; educational toys; STEAM; STEM; toy design; toy industry
Volume 14, Number 2
This issue of the American Journal of Play begins with an interview of entrepreneur and play advocate Terri-Nichelle Bradley. She discusses her work as founder and CEO of Brown Toy Box, an educational toy company striving to make purposeful play culturally representative and accessible to all children. In an article that surveys public libraries about their play offerings, Peter Gray, Autumn E. Solomon, and Leah Tatgenhorst, show how librarians have enabled children’s free play in libraries through policies of nonintervention and encouraging the nonintervention of care givers. Kirsty Paxton examines guided play through a play-and-write workshop among students in a South African class- room. She concludes that this type of playful learning and guided play can prove valuable when put into service beyond kindergarten. In an article that expands the notion of the play cycle, and explores Simon Nicholson’s theory of loose parts and James J. Gibson’s notion of affordances, Pete King demonstrates the impact of these on professional playwork and other play-related activities. The issue concludes with an article by Prarthana Franklin-Luther and Anthony A. Volk that uses the HEXACO model of personality to investigate the personality traits of parents and children on the playground.
The authors surveyed public libraries to learn about the opportunities for play they offered and children’s freedom to engage in such play without adult supervision. The authors conclude that, in recent years, public libraries in the United States have increasingly created spaces and programs enabling free play for children and teens. These include “maker spaces” (for constructive play), playrooms with toys and games for young children, and rooms where teens can socialize and play games. The authors describe the survey results and three especially successful library play programs in detail. These results, they conclude, illustrate how librarians have welcomed children and enabled free play in the library through policies of nonintervention and by emphasizing nonintervention by care givers who might otherwise intervene in such play. Key words: free play; maker spaces; play and libraries; public libraries
The author examines guided play among students in a South African classroom using a play-and-write workshop constructed by her and her students. She determines that the workshop displays the characteristics of playful learning, lies on the playful learning spectrum, and fits the criteria for guided play. She concludes that, given the benefits of playful learning and guided play in particular, teaching involving construction with the students and allowing student-directed activity can prove valuable and should be put to service where possible beyond kindergarten. She adds that these methods should be employed in conjunction with other educational goals in South Africa and elsewhere in the developing world to help mitigate such problems as underfunding and large class sizes. Key words: education in South Africa; guided play; play-and-write workshops; playful learning
A Theoretical Expansion of the Play Cycle: Jakob von Uexküll’s Functional Cycle and the Perceptual Cue
The author seeks to expand the notion of the “play cycle,” first introduced in 1998, to include the “functional cycle,” with its “perceptual cue,” touted by Jakob von Uexküll. He also discusses Simon Nicholson’s theory of “loose parts” and James J. Gibson’s notion of “affordances.” He outlines the impact of these and his now-revised play cycle and its perceptual cues on professional playwork and other play-related activities, especially those in preschool, child care, and the early years of education. Key words: functional circle; Jakob von Uexküll; play cycle; play process; playwork
The authors investigate the personality traits of parents and children and their significant influence on the behavior of the other. Using the HEXACO model of personality, the authors examine the behavior of one hundred parent-child dyads on a playground to understand broader parent-child relationships. Their analyses reveal two opposed types of parental behavior (engaged par- ents versus unengaged parents) and child behavior (introverted cautious play versus autonomous energetic play) on the playground. The authors assert their study demonstrates that the personality traits of both parents and children as measured by the HEXACO model play a significant role in parental and child behaviors during play and in broader interactions. Key words: HEXACO; parent-child behavior; parent-child interaction; personality traits
Tasmin Grimmer, Calling All Superheroes: Supporting and Developing Superhero Play in the Early Years
J. Rey Lee
Prarthana Franklin-Luther received her MA and PhD from the Department of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University. Her publications include “The Links between Adult Personality, Parental Discipline Attitudes and Harsh Child Punishment” and “How Do Adults’ Personality Traits Influence Perceptions and Responses to Infant Faces?” Anthony A. Volk is the Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University, where he helped establish and develop the doctoral program in Child and Youth Studies. His publications include “What Is Bullying? A Theoretical Redefinition,” “Infant and Child Death in the Human Environment of Rvolutionary Adaptation,” and “The Influence of Infant Facial Cues on Adoption Preferences.”
Peter Gray is Research Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Boston College. He is the author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, eight editions of the textbook Psychology (with coauthor David Bjorklund on the most recent two editions), and numerous articles about play, behavioral biology, evolutionary psychology, and education. Gray is a founding member of the non- profit Alliance for Self-Directed Education and the nonprofit Let Grow. He also writes the Freedom to Learn blog for Psychology Today. Autumn E. Solomon is Associate Director of Westbank Community Libraries in Austin, Texas, guiding public services, human resources, and branch operations. She has worked at Seattle Public Libraries; the University of South California, Los Angeles, Public Library, and for private companies designing library spaces. Leah Tatgenhorst is Programs Manager for Westbank Libraries, planing and facilitating a variety of programming for all ages. She earned her MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009 and has worked in public libraries in Florida and Texas.
Pete King is a Senior Lecturer at Swansea University in the Department for Education and Childhood Studies. He is the Programme Director for the MA Developmental and Therapeutic Play course. His publications include Researching Play from a Playwork Perspective; Further Perspectives on Researching Play from a Playwork Perspective: Process, Playfulness, Rights-Based and Critical Reflection; Play across Childhood: International Perspectives on Diverse Contexts of Play; and The Play Cycle: Theory, Research, and Application.
Kirsty Paxton is a children’s book author and educational consultant specializing in early literacy and learning through play in African settings. She has worked for Right to Play globally and done consulting work for the LEGO Foundation and other nonprofit organizations in South Africa.