October 3rd was a perfect autumn day in New York City. And in Central Park, hundreds of children got to stretch their imaginations as they played all day during the first Ultimate Block Party, sponsored by the organization Play for Tomorrow.
Kids participated in a myriad of play-based activities, such as making sidewalk art with chalk, building a city of green LEGO blocks, cooking up multiethnic treats in play kitchens, singing along with Sesame Street’s Gordon, and joining the world’s largest game of Simon Says.
Parents learned about the beneficial effects on the brain of raising children bilingual, were encouraged to pledge to Read for the Record on October 7, and observed the learning possible in playing and creating from high-tech robotics to acorns and egg cartons. Throughout the day, specialists in child development or “play doctors,” dressed in lab coats with colorful painted handprints, milled through the crowd addressing any questions parents had about their children’s development.
The event raised awareness for the importance of play, which NIEER has highlighted in the past. Outside of New York, other towns and cities across the nation planned their own block parties.
- Jen Fitzgerald, Public Information Officer, NIEER