How Playgrounds Foster the 5 Types of Play

ImageDifferent play structures on the playground engage children in different ways, whether it engages their imagination or their intellect. Well-arranged play environments should enhance children’s development by integrating learning and play in a way that’s fun but also boosts development. Here is a rundown of a few types of play and play structures and how they contribute to different experiences for children.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) categorizes play into five different types: creative play, games with rules, language, physical play and pretend play. For the most part, physical play structures, like playground equipment, contribute to children’s physical development by providing places to jump, climb, run and move around in general. Strength in gross motor development, as a result, improves in children who regularly partake in physical play.

Outdoor play structures can also include activities that allow children to engage the other types of play, such as games with rules, pretend play and creative play. Creative play is characterized by activities that let children express their feelings, ideas and thoughts by using their imaginations. Playing pretend on various play structures often features make-believe, role-playing, drama and fantasy games.

Elevated Play Components

playland-zamzee-4Elevated play components are equipment that can be approached or exited from above or below grade. For example, a climber that a child could ascend or descend is considered an elevated play component. These play structures, as you may guess, build balance and strength: two abilities that children use during play on these particular types of playground equipment. Other elevated play components, such as slides, use gravity to produce a sense of rapid descent.

Many elevated play items can be roped into fantasy and creative play as well. If an entire play structure is imagined to be a castle, pirate ship, spaceship or something similar, children are bringing in elements of drama, make-believe, role-playing and ultimately pretend play. This sort of play develops imaginations and steers young minds to think in creative, abstract ways. Continue reading

Zamzee, My Family, and Making Exercise Fun

By Virna McKinney

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One day last April I walked my son William to his classroom on the second floor of his school. By the time we got to the top of the stairs, we were both out of breath. In that moment I really felt like a failure as a mom. Walking to his classroom on the second floor was a struggle that William had to face five days a week, at least three times a day. I knew I needed to do something to help both of us, and that’s why I started looking for a way to make exercising fun.

I found Zamzee by doing a Google search for a child’s activity monitor. Since I had just joined Weight Watchers a few days before, I decided to get one for myself and both my kids. William was eight and Taylor was five at the time. They were both really excited to get started. When their Zamzees were fully charged, they started doing jumping jacks. My kids and I set challenges and ran in the backyard, or took walks around the block. During the summer break we spent hours in the backyard kicking and chasing the soccer ball. We also bounced on the trampoline, hula hooped, and jumped rope.

Pretty soon, Taylor joined a cheer squad and William joined a basketball team. Because they had their sports practice on two different nights of the week, I decided to take advantage of this time by walking around the track for an hour. But the surprise occurred when each child opted not to watch their sibling practice, but instead walk the track with me. Taylor didn’t actually walk. She ran. FAST. So that made me run too, to keep up with her. On one of our walks I set a challenge for William, without knowing he wasn’t wearing his Zamzee. When we got home I told him to plug it in to see if he had met the challenge. He said, “I forgot to put it on it but that’s ok. It’s not about the points anyway. I needed to walk.” That was a proud mama moment for me.

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The Top 10 Zamzee Blog Posts of 2013

On the Zamzee blog, we document the scientific research behind Zamzee, our efforts to fulfill our mission of improving kids’ health, and fun stories and ideas about families getting active. Looking back at the most popular posts of 2013, it’s clear that Zamzee Blog readers are interested in the full spectrum of physical activity. But what’s the most popular? Here are the 10 most-read blog posts of 2013:

1.) 5 Playground Games from Around the World

Topping the charts of 2013 was a fun blog post about playground games from around the world. Look no further if you are looking for inspiration on how to spice up your kids’ backyard play: these games will have you moving, laughing, and earning mega-Pointz on your Zamzee meters!

2.) What’s the Difference Between a Pedometer, an Accelerometer and a Zamzee?

The second most popular blog post of 2013 was a short and sweet piece explaining the difference between pedometers, accelerometers and a Zamzee. If you’re new to Zamzee and activity trackers in general, this post is a great starting point for understanding more about your options for tracking your physical activity.

3.) Using Technology to Modernize Physical Education (P.E.)

A personal favorite of the Zamzee staff, this guest blog post by Cindy Sisson Hensley takes a look ahead at how technology can transform physical education to make school P.E. more engaging for today’s kids. Continue reading

The Best of Zamzee 2013

2013 was a big year for Zamzee as we pursued our quest to improve kids’ health by making physical activity more fun. We launched our healthcare business and built new enterprise products to help motivate, measure and manage physical activity. Here are the highlights:

The year started out with our first-ever Zamzee original music video, created for us by a Zamzee user in high school and her little sister.

Meanwhile, all the Zamzee users were moving and taking Zamzee Challenges to earn Zamz. In March, pburdette became the first Zamzee user to earn a free XBox in 2013!

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 10.37.56 AMEvery month, new Zamzee group programs were being launched in healthcare settings and schools across the country. And in June, the students at Greenfield Hebrew Academy in Atlanta, Georgia recorded over one million minutes of physical activity with their Zamzee meters! Way to go, GHA! Continue reading

Every BODY, Let’s Move in Dayton

In September Zamzee was contacted by the National Park Service in Dayton, Ohio about a “Let’s Move” event the community was planning. The park service asked if we could donate a few Zamzee meters to inspire participation, and we were happy to help! Leisa Ling, a park guide at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park coordinated the event, and she gave us a recap of how it went.

September 28, 2013 was a beautiful day. Not only was it the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day, it was also the day of our event dubbed “Every BODY, Let’s Move!”, a family-friendly event to promote First Lady Michele Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign.

Held at Huffman Prairie Interpretive Center which is one of the units of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in Dayton, OH, the site offers the perfect spot for an outdoor event with its scenic position at the top of a hill under big, old shady trees. The goal was to create an event to draw people of differing interests and ages and fitness levels to come together at the park and do something active.

With five rangers and seven volunteers we offered many different activities, including…

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….a dog walk, a 3 hour hike… Continue reading

A Holiday Ode to HopeLab

Every year in December, we have the opportunity to spend quality time with our friends and family. We reminisce over past milestones, whether it’s a child’s graduation or a winning science fair project. As we thought about this tradition at Zamzee, we realized we, too, have an family member we want to commemorate. HopeLab.

HopeLab is the nonprofit research organization that created Zamzee. Their mission is to use the power and appeal of technology to improve the health of kids. Like any proud kid who wants to brag about the work of their parents, we want to tell you about some of HopeLab’s accomplishments from 2013.

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This year HopeLab launched Re-Mission 2, a collection of online games that help young people with cancer fight their disease. Continue reading

Zamzee for Groups Program Curriculum Launched Today

ZamzeeCurriculumToday we announced a new product launch, the Zamzee for Groups Program Curriculum! The Program Curriculum is a complete syllabus for increasing physical activity presented in a lesson-plan-style format that is teachable by any instructor using Zamzee for Groups. It makes it even easier for program leaders to use Zamzee to motivate, measure and manage physical activity.

Over the course of 2013, Zamzee piloted our group program in hospital clinics, schools and community programs. We worked closely with program leaders to use Zamzee to help improve kids’ health. After integrating the learnings from our pilots, in October we launched Zamzee for Groups. Zamzee for Groups is a powerful reporting system which makes it easy for program leaders to get accurate data about physical activity and motivate kids to move more.

After the launch of Zamzee for Groups, we continued to monitor our programs and consider ways we could make it even easier for program leaders to use technology to increase physical activity. The Zamzee for Groups Program Curriculum was developed to help instructors quickly get their Zamzee for Groups programs up and running. It makes it simple to use Zamzee to kickstart a physical activity program or strengthen an existing class. Continue reading

Walking to School with Safe Routes and Zamzee

Safe Routes to School education event - August 24th, 2013 - Adam Brant (28)

“Back in my day, we had to walk ten miles back and forth to school. In the snow! Uphill both ways!”

It’s probably been a long time since you fell for that classic joke. But even though your grandfather probably didn’t walk uphill both ways to school, there is a good chance he did walk to school. Unfortunately, many kids these days don’t have a chance to say the same.

Back in 1969, 48 percent of K-8th grade students walked or bicycled to school. By 2009, only 13 percent of K-8th grade students were walking or biking to school. This uptick in students driving to school has had a big impact on communities. For example, did you know that 10-14 percent of all vehicular traffic between 7 and 9 A.M. is school-related?[1] Moreover, many communities lack the urban infrastructure that would make walking or biking to school safe for children. For all these reasons and more, Congress passed federal legislation in 2005 establishing the National Safe Routes to School program. The new program would fund projects to improve the safety of children walking and biking to school, and encourage families to travel between home and school using these modes. Continue reading

Zamzee Builds a KaBOOM! Playground

On Thursday, we joined forces with KaBOOM! for our first playground build.

On Thursday, we joined forces with KaBOOM! for our first playground build.

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We were pretty excited, and the school was, too!

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And there was a lot of work to do…

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It’s a good thing we had coffee!

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The Importance of the Playground: recent research

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By David Reeves

Some of the most important learning in childhood takes place outside the classroom, on the playground. Recent research shows that children develop important cognitive and social skills while playing, to say the least of improving their physical health. Here are just a few interesting examples of skills developing in the background while children are having fun playing.

Longer Attention Spans: In 2009, the journal Pediatrics found that students who were given more than 15 minutes of recess time on a daily basis were better behaved than those who had no recess period. When children in school take a break from learning lessons and are given the chance to play with one another, they are better able to focus on the subjects they are studying. Rather than looking at “play” as something that will take away from “study,” research shows that the two are actually mutually beneficial.

IQ Growth: Playing helps children grow their brains. In a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who were exposed to enriched, play-oriented childhood programs and social interaction had higher IQs at the age of five, as opposed to children who were not given the same play-oriented opportunities. Play is so important to child development that it is even recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a fundamental right of every child. Continue reading