At the intersection of the global cities movement and the movement to optimize early education in and out of school lies Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN) which infuses the best science of learning into initiatives to build strong cities, offering exciting opportunities to help all children reach their potential. Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization affiliated with various industry leaders… In cities around the world, everyday public places are being transformed – bus stops, libraries, parks – into hubs of playful learning. Working with communities, we can build on their strengths to co-create playful learning opportunities where they are needed most.
Playful Learning Landscapes combines architectural placemaking with the science of learning. It is an evidence-based model that has been widely tested in Philadelphia and around the world. Thus far, results suggest that transforming public spaces like supermarkets, laundromats, parks, and even libraries and sidewalks with well-designed games that flex cognitive and social muscles changes behavior and interactions in ways known to support children’s development. Playful Learning Landscapes has the potential to reduce inequities in children’s access to high quality environments that improve later outcomes.
Additionally, Playful Learning Landscapes’ certification program helps architects design these spaces with just the right characteristics to enhance children’s development.
“Scientists Sprinkle ‘Playful Learning’ Stations in Cities Around the World” – Newsweek Magazine, July 19, 2023 – “Over the course of her career, Temple University’s Kathy Hirsh-Pasek has spent a lot of time worrying not just about how to increase playtime in school, but also how to reach kids outside of school. As a psychologist, she knows well the many scientific studies that show the importance of play to learning and child development. But her best idea, she says, came to her on one lazy Sunday morning while lying in bed. She wondered if it might be possible to build playful learning environments outside of school in ordinary places like supermarkets and bus stations.”…
“Philadelphia Playstreets: Opportunity and Resilience” – Temple University PPL Policy Brief on Playful Learning Landscapes, July 11, 2023 – In recent years Philadelphia has emerged as a leading national Playful Learning City. Dozens of Playful Learning Landscapes across the city have transformed public spaces into culturally relevant, playful learning spaces for children, helping them meet rigorous learning goals while having fun. The Playful Learning movement, sparked by the Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN) and the Brookings Institution, infuses the science of learning—specifically, the “what” and the “how” of learning—into public and private community-led spaces.”…
“From Bus Stops to Laundromats, Cities Embrace Play to Help Kids Learn” – The 74, July 6, 2023 – “On a tiny triangular lot in the city’s Belmont neighborhood, kids waiting with their parents for the No. 40 bus can also work on their executive functioning skills, playing a hopscotch variation designed to train their brains. In Chicago, a wooden game mounted on the wall of a laundromat teaches children, in two languages, how to find color patterns in a lineup of detergent bottle tops.”…
WHERE WE'RE PLAYING
Playful Learning Landscapes has infused cities across the nation and globally with playful learning opportunities by transforming everyday spaces and optimizing early education.
FEATURED PLAYFUL LEARNING LANDSCAPES PROJECTS
Researchers at UC Irvine and El Sol Sciences & Arts Academy partnered in the creation of Fraction Ball in Santa Ana, CA. For Fraction Ball, the lines on a basketball court are painted to emphasize fraction and decimal learning by allowing children to take shots that are worth a fraction of a point with the goal of earning an exact number of points on a number line next to the court….
Urban Thinkscape brings the benefits of playful learning, which combines the enjoyable nature of play with a learning goal, to a community, public setting of a bus stop. Benches now include puzzles with movable parts that stimulate spatial skills and become opportunities for exploring language, color, and numbers while on-site signage and this website connect families to additional information and resources about the links between play and learning.
The Ultimate Block Party aims to create a multi-pronged social movement that champions the importance of play and playful learning in children’s lives. We seek to ensure that all children are provided with competitive skills for the 21st century global world and to build a public groundswell about the value of play for fostering lifelong learning in the sciences and the arts. Our mission is to affect policy about children and the way we deliver education in our society by showing off how children learn skills and competencies like the 6Cs in a pop-up event highlighting the science of learning.
FOSTERING COMMUNITY AND MEASURING IMPACT: WHAT'S WORKING IN PLAYFUL LEARNING CITIES
More than half of the world’s children are growing up in cities. Yet, children and families are often invisible to urban planners, developers, and architects when implementing policies and practices that shape the built environment.
Playful Learning Landscapes (PLL) is a culturally adaptable and sustainable approach for creating more child-friendly cities by augmenting opportunities for play, learning, and healthy development in the public realm.
On October 12, 2022, Brookings Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking and the Center for Universal Education, in partnership with Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN), hosted an in-person and virtual event to examine how cities are infusing playful learning in their communities. The event kicked off with an opportunity for attendees to interact with PLL activities and then featured panel discussions on community engagement and measuring the impact of playful learning in public spaces…
THE ORIGINAL CONCEPT
Children from under-resourced communities regularly enter formal schooling lagging behind their peers. These deficits in areas such as language development, reading readiness, and even in the kind of spatial skills that predict later mathematical knowledge, may persist throughout the lifespan. To address such gaps, policymakers have focused largely on schooling as the great equalizer. Yet, children only spend 20% of their waking hours in school. How can developmental scientists and educators address this “other 80%” for the benefit of children’s development? One answer is the Playful Learning Landscapes initiative, which involves crafting carefully planned play experiences that focus on learning outcomes, particularly for children and families from under-resourced communities.
We have a global learning crisis. With business as usual, by 2030 half of the world’s youth – over 800 million young people – will not have the skills they need to succeed in work and life. The aim of Learning Landscape is to transform everyday places into learning opportunities in order to maximum the “other 80%” of time children spend outside of school and to augment what goes on in school.
Twenty First Century Skills: Becoming Brilliant
THE PLAYFUL LEARNING PLAYBOOK
On November 19, 2020, Playful Learning Playbook in Action introduced its new Playful Learning Playbook — A beautiful way to build playful communities and reduce inequality! We’ve reimagined and redesigned the Playful Learning Landscapes Playbook to include brand new features based on our cutting-edge science:
- Examples of playful learning activities ranging from DIY to major installations
- Action steps for creating playful learning experiences
- The 6 Cs – skills for 21st-century success
- A deeper dive into the Science of Playful Learning
THE PLAYFUL LEARNING LANDSCAPES METRICS FRAMEWORK
In their Brookings piece published in October 2021, Kathy and her colleagues present the new Playful Learning Landscapes Metrics Framework! Check it out HERE…
THE LAUNCH OF THE LANDSCAPES (February 26, 2020)
On Wednesday, February 26, 2020, the Center for Universal Education and the Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking at Brookings hosted an event introducing Playful Learning Landscapes, an interdisciplinary project aimed at transforming everyday places into learning experiences and bringing education into public spaces by reaching families in parks, supermarkets, and other places where they regularly go. The event convened community leaders, city planners, designers, and behavioral scientists that share a vision for creating family-friendly cities across the world.