Eastern Connecticut State University
Center for
Early Childhood Education
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Supporting Children's Physical and Outdoor Play

A Project for Head Start Body Start

Decades of research have shown that play is an important mediator in the development of physical, social, cognitive, and language development of young children (Bergen, 2002; Garvey, 1993; Vygotsky, 1976). In spite of this, play faces threats from many directions in modern American life. Active play is being replaced by passive television viewing and computer use at home; opportunities to play are even disappearing in some schools. With a growing focus on academic achievement, some parents and policymakers are losing sight of the critical importance of active, physical play in the healthy development of young children.

Consistent with its mission of promoting the importance of play in early childhood, the Center for Early Childhood Education was awarded a contract in 2010 from Head Start Body Start to conduct research on the benefits of physical and outdoor play for children from birth to age five. The Center developed an annotated bibliography on recent research, a comprehensive literature review on the benefits to children's development, and five research-into-practice briefs for teachers, parents, and caregivers. The Center also developed the following five video clips to illustrate ways that adults can support and encourage active play in young children:



Supporting Physical Development in Infants and Toddlers

Watch video. (3:20)

View a transcript of this video.


Incorporating Motor Play in the Preschool Curriculum

Watch video. (3:40)

View a transcript of this video.


Using an Obstacle Course to Promote Active Outdoor Play

Watch video. (3:07)

View a transcript of this video.


Nurturing Preschool Children's Emotional Health Through Active Play

Watch video. (3:55)

View a transcript of this video.


Supporting Thinking in Infants and Toddlers Through Active Music and Play Experiences

Watch video. (2:36)

View a transcript of this video.


Download the Videos

Download these videos directly to your computer or iPod through iTunesU. You must have iTunes installed on your computer.

For More Information

Development of videos for this project involved a collaboration of early childhood faculty, health and physical education faculty, video production professionals, students, parents of young children, and teachers from Eastern’s Child and Family Development Resource Center.

  • Producer: Julia DeLapp
  • Videographer and Video Editor: Ken Measimer
  • Student Production Assistant: Kristin Chemerka
  • Content Experts: Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, Dr. Darren Robert, Dr. Ann Gruenberg

The Center would like to thank the early childhood professionals who served on the Teacher Advisory Committee for this project: Claudia Ahern, Kim Bartle, Patricia Gardner, Kimberly Lewendon, Ashlee Marouski, Patrice Ramm, Niloufar Rezai, Jessi Robey.

For more information, contact Julia DeLapp.

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