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It’s Time To Bring Play Into Schools

With play we thrive, without play we pay.

Tanner, a 3rd grade student stood in front of the 70’ by 20’ “All One Magic Foam Experience” slip-n-slide and could barely wait in line he was so excited. He had heard that field day was going to be amazing this year, but this was beyond all his expectations. A minute later, he was getting “foamed” with a big hose that contained Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Soap as he was slip-sliding away down a huge hill. He then busted his “move” as he was dripping with organic suds and said, “This is the way I play! I challenge Jessica to play her way!” as he pointed at Jessica who had slid down beside him. Jessica, totally covered in soap, momentarily looked shy as she was thinking of her way to play, and then she did a cartwheel and finished with her special dance move.  They both ran into the warm rinse-off station and yelled, “I could do this all day!”

Research has shown that kids need unstructured free play to be well-rounded, to effectively develop social and emotional skills, and to approach learning with excitement1-6.   i.b.mee. advocates for lots of free play and bringing learning through play into the educational system, curriculum, and classrooms of all ages.  In June, we partnered with a local business in Asheville, NC called Triple D Creations to bring some cool and playful activities to the hot field days at Johnston and Hall Fletcher elementary schools to give students, teachers and administrators an end of the school year, one-of-a-kind, celebration. Hundreds of kids at each school got to participate in “getting foamed” by either sliding down a soap-filled slip-n-slide or walking into a 12X20 Magic Foam Shower provided by Triple D Creations.  

i.b.mee. provided a play tent that offered a Bliss Your Bubble science experiment and self-serve bubble station, an imagination dress up station, an art station, hula hoops, and a variety of balls and ribbons to play and to juggle with.  Corrie Price and Meg Hanshaw, i.b.mee.’s main staff, enjoyed connecting with the students and teachers, getting to revisit being a k.

i.b.mee. also piloted their W.E.L.L. Kids NOW® “Play or Pay Challenge” where the kids and teachers showed their favorite way to play and expressed who they were by saying, “This is the way I play; I challenge ____ to play their way, or Pay!”  This research project will be launched in the Fall of 2022 to bring awareness to the crucial need to shift the educational system NOW into a healthy and empowering framework with the self-expression and play of each individual child as one of the central “Principles of Success”.  This new educational paradigm, that has already begun in bits and pieces all over the world, focuses on making sure that all students are learning in a healthy and empowering environment where they get to connect with caring and accepting adults, create and innovate from their personal passions, and celebrate magical moments of who they are and what they are learning.   

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR: Elizabeth Johnson – WCU Senior – i.b.mee. Intern


  1. http://www.nifplay.org/institute/about-us/
  2. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/practice-play-dr-stuart-brown
  3. http://gamestudies.org/0601/articles/rodriges
  4. http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/Kindergarten_8-page_summary.pdf
  5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/1195/evobio-education.pdf
  6. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182#ref-13