Tag Archives: Play with Kids



I watched Star Wars with my oldest son yesterday afternoon after days (maybe months) of requests to do so. Of course, he wanted to play “lightsabers” afterward. I’ve moved past the debate about whether or not this kind of media and follow up play teaches kids to be violent. The jury is in on that topic, and the verdict is: wake up. Children’s physical, social, and emotional development is much more complex than that.

During our follow up light-saber battle (which was postponed until dinner was eaten, dishes were done, and rooms were tidied) I tried to follow my son’s lead as much as possible. I wanted to see where he would go with it. We used Nerf™ brand foam swords, which I love, because they let the boys experience the painful natural consequence of hitting too hard without anyone getting really hurt. Truthfully, there are very few more effective ways to teach gentleness.

If one of us maneuvered past the other’s blocks and made contact with a body part, the “injured” player had to stop using that body part. To get the use of that body part back, we designated the basement step as the goal. We had lots of laughs watching each other hop, creep, slide, and inch our way over to the step.

Tiring of that, my son made a new innovation. After making contact and “cutting off” an arm, leg, butt, etc., the swordsman had to flip the sword over, grab the blade, and “heal” the other player by touching him with the handle of the sword. After being healed, both players resumed full “health” and participation.

How profoundly this one simple rule of play demonstrated the difference between violence and rough-and-tumble play. Violence is vicious, self-serving, and hurtful. Sport and rough-and-tumble play recognize the importance of caring and keeping all players in the game. The wisdom of many traditions teaches that our wholeness is often, sometimes only, found by being wounded. Even more so by healing and being healed.


Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Present Moment Parenting


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Surprise Kids with Quality Time

Mommy was out of town, so I and boys Braden (4) and Cullen (1.5) were on our way up to the Shoreview Community Center, which is our favorite place to blow off a bunch of pent-up little boy energy during the winter months. We like to go the big indoor playground since he gym is usually full of too many stray basketballs to make it safe for Cullen to play freely. The boys were getting excited as we drove, and then we passed Flaherty’s Arden Bowl.

“Look Dad, it’s the bowling alley,” Braden observed.

“Yeah…” I started to say and then an idea hit me. “Would you like to go bowling?”

“Do you mean now?” He said, not quite sure what to make of this novel idea.

“Yeah, we could go bowling for a little bit and  then go up to the community center.” Braden was kind of shocked in good way. He couldn’t believe I was being so spontaneous. He has only been to a bowling alley once, with all of his older cousins, so the experience still held a lot of wonder and excitement for him. After putting on some cool looking shoes and being given a special 6 pound kid ball, he was ready to go.

We had a great time. Sure, it took his ball a good 5-10 seconds to get down the lane, but he still did a little happy dance every time he knocked a few pins down. Because there was too much room and two many heavy, toe busting balls around to let a one-and-a-half year old go free, I had to bowl with a toddler in one arm and swing a 15 pounder (ball, not kid) with the other.

My score was only slightly higher than Braden’s, but there’s nothing better than having your four-year-old yell, “NICE SHOT DAD!” and give you a high five.

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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in Stories


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Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control

Last week I posted a story about media, play, and kids development that was first aired on Morning Edition. At the end of that program, a follow up program was referenced, so here’s the link to Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control. The bottom line: free unstructured, imaginitive play is VERY healthy and important. In fact, it’s probably more important developmentally than all of the structure and outcomes that we use. Sure, we need to use the planning and testing for some of our assessments, but in a PERFECT world, those activities won’t take too much time away from the real “work” of childhood: PLAY.

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Posted by on December 13, 2010 in Uncategorized


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Old Fashioned Play Building Serious Skills

There was an incredible piece on development and play on Midmorning yesterday. It’s some of the best material from my workshops all packaged up for the radio. If I had done a piece myself, I couldn’t have picked better content, so I’m sharing the link: Old Fashioned Play Building Serious Skills. Be sure to check it out. You can read the written version on their website or listen to the audio version with all the bells and whistles.

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Posted by on December 7, 2010 in Present Moment Parenting


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Play Ideas from Minute to Win It

I’d never watched Minute to Win It before today, but when I did I was thrilled with some of the great family play ideas I saw. One game I saw today was for a player to dip his nose in a spot of Vaseline and then pick-up cotton balls with the the tip of their nose and move six of them to another bowl without using their hands. Another game was to strap an empty Kleenex box on (using a belt) and put six or eight ping pong balls in it. The player has to get all of them out without using their hands.

We all know that one of the greatest things a family can do together is play. If you’re short on ideas, take a minute to watch the show or look at the show’s website for a great idea. If you’ve got kids who are reluctant to participate, let them watch the show, pick the game, and prep it for the family.

Have Fun!


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