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Play Today
Building the Young Brain Through Creative Expression

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Play Today
Building the Young Brain Through Creative Expression



Item number: 10059
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When young children are engaged in imaginative play, they are not just having fun; they are developing skills and concepts that are foundational to their learning. Teachers can get the most out of this critical development time with thoughtful preparations that allow the children to freely explore their creativity and learn from each other. Using simple props and donated items, the book shows how centers can be transformed into rich and rewarding learning spaces for children. Play Today offers dozens of easy-to-do scenarios that will spark open-ended play explorations. 

Play strategies discussed boost brain development in many ways, including:

  • Memory and flexible thinking
  • Communication
  • Social-emotional skills
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Literacy
Ann Barbour, PhD

Ann Barbour is a professor emerita of early childhood education at California State University, Los Angeles. She received an MEd in Elementary Education and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, with...

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Play Today has won the 2017 Teachers' Choice Awards, Professional Development Category, Academic's Choice Awards, and Creative Child Magazine Awards (2016 Book of the Year).

“Dr. Barbour has done an amazing job in her recent publication, Play Today: Building the Young Brain through Creative Expression. She has managed to do several things in one easy to understand book. First, she has provided a simple, yet meaningful overview of the significance of dramatic play as an essential component of young children’s development. All too often play is perceived as something that children, especially, young children, naturally engage in but does not have as much influence in the way children develop. Second, she is able to combine the value and meaningful nature of dramatic play with the impact on children’s brain development and creative expression. This is not usually an easy task and Dr. Barbour is able create these links easily and in ways that any educator or practitioner working with young children, can immediately apply into every day experiences. Finally, what is so valuable in this book, is to have actual activities that take this philosophy into practice. Activities that are flexible but are laid out in a step-by-step format that allows dramatic play to easily be integrated into most routines or activities and with materials that are typically accessible in early childhood settings. They are written into a format that can quickly be integrated into any lesson plan, which nowadays is essential. This book will be an ideal resource for any individual touching the lives of young children and enriching their hands on experiences through play while nurturing all aspects of their development.”

Jeanette Betancourt
EdD, SVP U.S. Social Impact, SesameWorkshop

“This delightful book for 21st century preschool teachers is packed with basic information about learning and dramatic play. Written in a simple style, with examples of materials and settings for all types of contexts in a comprehensive curriculum, it focuses on found and recycled materials rather than commercial sources. The photographs are fresh and engaging.”

Sue C. Wortham
Professor Emerita, The University of Texas at San Antonio

“It definitively helped my 5 year old son expand his creativity. It was perfect for us to exercise these activities just as he was about to start kindergarten, now he's extending the knowledge to his classmates!”

Academic's Choice Awards