The Importance of Play

Would it surprise you if I told you that the foundation for the person you are today was based on how you played as a child?

Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children” (Kenneth Ginsburg). Play is crucial to early childhood development because it invites children and parents to explore their environment as well as their imagination. Not only are your children learning about the world around them, they are also developing skills that will help them learn to read and write later.

Though technology is important, and certainly has a place in our lives, it is crucial that your child be exposed to active play. Our community offers an abundance of opportunities for your child to explore through play. There are community parks with playground furniture to play on. There are a number of children’s museums in Louisville, Lexington, and Cincinnati, that could be utilized to encourage play. There is the YMCA and the Parks department that allow programs for children of all ages. The local public libraries also offer many opportunities for play.

At each of the Boone County Public Libraries, there are a variety of different optiIMG_20150408_100739143ons for your child to explore and grow through play. There are designated children’s areas with toys, magnets, blocks, and other manipulatives so that they can build their fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills involve small movements that occur in the wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes. The discovery stations located at each branch definitely allow children to explore through play and build their fine motor skills specifically.

Play threeWe also offer Storytimes, which encourage a different type of play.. In our storytimes we may use music and movement to get your child up and playing. Through music and movement children are building their gross motor skills, which are targeting their larger muscle groups for movement and coordination through their arms, legs, head and torso. In storytimes we may use a sensory table for them to explore different textures and materials, as well as learning early pouring and measuring skills. As a customer, you can also check out our theme-kits, which offer books, a CD, and often times a craft or activity that you can do at home.

Play doesn’t have to be supervised though. You can easily pull out some old props from your closet as simple as a hat or a purse, and you’ve encouraged dramatic play. You could also encourage play at home with outdoor materials. Grab some leaves and some paper and crayons. Leaf rubbing offers great conversation opportunities where you explore the different parts of a leaf, even explaining why trees need their leaves and the cycle that leaves go through in the fall. You can also make a quick sensory bin yourself. If you take a small plastic tub you can fill it with a base material: sand, beans, water, water beads, shredded paper, etc. Then you add in manipulatives that can be found, picked up with tongs, sorted, etc.

There are a million things that you could do to help your child explore their world through play. Often times, leaving them to their own devices is one of the most productive ways. My fondest childhood memory is “pretending” with my brother outside around our swingset. I would become anything from a bus driver to the sole survivor on a distant planet somewhere.

The point, though, is that inviting your children to play, even if that feels like slacking off to you, is crucial to their early cognitive development and will make them smarter! Let them explore with their imaginations, because it will benefit them more in the long run.


Teresa hails from Irvine, KY, a really small town outside of Richmond. She grew up with a passion for reading, especially children’s literature and recently graduated from Georgetown College with a BA in English. She loves working in a library with so many kids — storytime is her favorite part of the day.

Explore Your Community with Pokemon Go!

It has been roughly one month since Niantic released Pokemon GO in the United States.  Within days of being released, Pokemon GO became the most popular mobile game in US history, quickly amassing millions of active users. In no time at all, the augmented reality game had more users than Tinder, Twitter, and plenty of other apps. 

It isn’t surprising that the game took off the way it did. The Pokemon franchise has kept a solid fan base since its release a full twenty years ago, and many of those fans were chomping at the bit for a new game after a full year of no releases in 2015 . When a new game was released that was not only free but allowed players to catch Pokemon in real life, of course it became overwhelmingly popular.

While the popularity of the game wasn’t surprising, it was certainly unexpected. Pokemon GO players are all familiar with the app crashes and server disconnects that makes the game an even mix of fun and frustration. Recent updates to the app may have even tipped the scales for some.  Niantic’s removal of the tracking feature, the ban on third party trackers such as PokeVision and PokeNotify, and a few other issues have several trainers ready to call it quits 

All that being said, there’s still plenty of fun to be had by those who aim to be the very best like no one ever was. In July the Library shared a blog post with ideas for day trips, and that’s exactly the sort of activity Pokemon GO inspires. Pokemon GO is great a motivator to get up and explore your community.  

On one Pokemon hunting expedition I crossed the Purple People Bridge (which I had somehow never done in my nearly twenty years living here) and found myself on the American Discovery Trail. Not only did I catch five Dratini, a Magmar, and an Electabuzz, but I also spent the day on an unexpected, self-guided tour through the history of an area I’ve lived in nearly all my life.

Me and my fiance about to cross the Purple People Bridge. Photo by Grace Johantges.

Me and my fiance about to cross the Purple People Bridge.
Photo by Grace Johantges.

While urban areas have proven to be the best place for hunting rare Pokemon, there are plenty of opportunities for a successful Pokemon hunt in Boone County. There’s a point in Historic Burlington where three PokeStops can be reached from one corner, and there has been an Onyx taunting me from Boone Woods for weeks.  I hope to finally catch him–and plenty of other Pokemon–during the Pokemon GO Safaris the library is hosting at different Boone County Parks on Thursdays in August


Chelsea Swinford is a Youth Services Associate at the Main Library. She’s a Pokemon Professor, and hosts a Pokemon League for grades K-12 the fourth Monday of the month at the Main Library in Burlington.