My Connections to Play

Quotes on Play

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning” ~ Diane Ackerman

“Life must be lived as play” ~ Plato

My Childhood Play


I remember when I was younger, my siblings and I would play connect four and other different board games. This was the time that forgot about all of our problems and just came together to play and have fun. Playing this game kept me thinking and how to use strategic moves in order to beat my siblings.


This was one of my favorite games to play with my friends outside at my first foster home. My foster grandma and her daughters would by all of us chalk and we would go on the drive way and make several hopscotch games. We were playing 2-3 games a piece at the same time. It was fun and we enjoyed playing and having fun.

When I was younger I use to love to play with doll babies, barbie dolls, stuffed animals and sometimes wrestling men. My foster sisters and brothers and I use to play school with all my toys. We would sit all the doll babies and wrestling men on the floor in the room to look like a class. I was the teacher and I would tell them that they had to listen to me since I was the teacher. Every since playing school with them, I have always said that I wanted to be a teacher. Who thought that my love for playing school with dolls and other things would jump-start my passion of working with children and becoming a teacher.

Thoughts on Play

When I was younger and living with my mother we did not have much to play with but we had one another. We would always make up games to play and run around the house to keep ourselves entertained. We really did not have money to buy fancy games and watch television so we played and had fun in the house as well as outside of the house. We use to climb trees and race one another outside. My mom was not one for making us stay in the house, she believed in letting us go outside and play. When I was  in foster care I went to the Boys and Girls Club where I was a member until I turned 18. At the Boys & Girls Club, I was active in play every day. There were plenty of games, basketball courts, games room. playground, and weight room, that I could play in with my friends. Every room that a person went in had something for them to do by themselves or with friends. Although the play was unstructured, we still had rules as far as keeping the room clean and being safe.

Play today is different from play when I was a child. When I was a child we were encouraged and motivated to go outside and play or play board games in the house or even go outside to ride a bike. Children today are not as motivated to go outside to play or play inside for that fact. Children today are caught up in the world of technology that they forget what it means to be engaged in active play. Some children today are forced to play sports because it is something that the parents want and not taking into consideration if the child wants to or not. When a child does not have input on certain matters then they will not engage in the activity in a happy mood. They play for their parents and not for fun. There are still some children who go outside and play basketball, jump rope, hopscotch, involved in dramatic play and like to pretend play. When we see these things happening in the class in today;s generation, maybe there is some hope to keeping play alive in the class.

Everything that we do or learn as a child through play, we incorporate it into our lives even when we reach adulthood. The same reciprocal action that we learn from when we children can encounter how we communicate with other adults.  Childhood play, plays a critical role in molding the person that one becomes later on in life as an adult. It is our responsibility as educators to ensure that children have the opportunity and chance to experience play and allow them to explore and be creative. In life, play can provide and teach valuable lessons.

6 thoughts on “My Connections to Play

  1. HI Dionna,
    I loved your choices of games because the ones you chose highlight a variety of skills necessary to promote problem solving, physical and social emotional skills.

    I also loved hopscotch, and what a great, inexpensive way to get outside and have fun without needing a lot of space or even a big yard. The Cabbage Patch kids…..what better prop to stimulate the imagination, make-believe play and promote social-emotional skills and executive function skills.

    Board games are great because they require flexibility, strategic thinking, and problem-solving. Now that I think about it, these same skills are also very useful in hopscotch!

    I think your most insightful observation is the one about children playing sports or games to please their parents, rather than for the sheer fun of it or for their own enjoyment. How true that is–at least for most kids today in my experience.

    I hope as ECE professionals we can in small ways encourage a return to outdoor play, games that require thought and interaction with other children, and activities that stimulate creativity and imaginative play. These are all examples of play that are inexpensive, require little room or green spaces, and are accessible to all.


  2. Hello Dionna,
    I appreciated your posting this week because it sounded to me so much like my own experiences growing up. I am glad you posted about hopscotch! What a great game: (1) cheap, no neighborhood or green spaces required, just some chalk and some rocks, if all else fails; (2) it promotes development in all three domains: cognitive—one must think out a strategy; social-emotional—one must be able to observe rules and get along with the other players; physical—obviously, there is the need for some, but not too much—physical skill, dexterity, and coordination. Wow, a cheap, user-friendly, easy-to-learn, outdoor game that is fun and subtly educational all at the same time!! Perhaps those old-timers—whoever they were—who invented that game were a bit smarter than we give them credit for, eh?

    Also, as you pointed out, board games such as Connect Four stimulate cognitive areas of the brain yet are so much fun to play—the key word being fun!

    Finally, the Cabbage Patch kid picture brought back memories of my two girls playing endlessly with their kids, building valuable social-emotional skills through their hours of role-playing with those dolls!
    I think you post is an excellent primer for any new parent looking for ways to promote play/learning without having to break the bank or live in a house with a huge, green, backyard!

    Be creative, have fun!
    P.S. I tried posting a similar thread yesterday but I’m not sure if it went through; if it does, sorry for the repeat.


  3. Dionna,
    Your post just reminded me of the games I used to play!!! I was a Guess Who fan, and forced my siblings to play me for HOURS. They hated me I think for most of my life-just kidding!


  4. Dionna,

    I love your post. The connect four was one of my first games and the Cabbage Patch Kids was a must have. I enjoyed my childhood and it seems that we played with some of the same toys. Children today could care less about toys in the aspect that we played. This generation is missing out on what play really is.


  5. Dionna,
    You picked two great quotes. Play is so important in a child’s life. Your post brings back so many memories. We played connect four growing up. It was so much fun trying to win against my sister. We use to go outside and find rocks so we could use them while playing hopscotch. We use to hate when it rain it would wash away our hopscotch. Those were the days. I had a cabbage patch doll but I didn’t play with it as much.


  6. I enjoy reading your post Dionna. I also played connect four with my siblings and now my little cousins are also enjoying the game. Hopscotch was one of my favorite game too. Great times.


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