Play and recess seen from the eyes of children
The Art of Play
Recess and the Practice of Invention
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Anna R. Beresin
What can the art of play teach us about the art of play? Showcasing the paintings of more than one hundred Philadelphia public elementary school children, folklorist Anna Beresin’s innovative book The Art of Play, presents images and stories that illustrate what children do at recess and how it makes them feel.
Beresin provides a nuanced, child-centered discussion of the intersections of play, art, and learning. She describes a widespread institutionalized fear of play and expressive art and illustrates the transformative power of simple materials like chalk and paint. Featuring more than one hundred paintings and a dozen surreal photographs of masked children enjoying recess, The Art of Play weaves together the diverse voices of children and working artists with play scholarship.
This book emerged from Recess Access, a service-learning project that donated chalk, ropes, balls, and hoops to under-resourced public schools in Philadelphia.
"Beresin and her team observe and analyze the children's play, and their responses to the opportunities to play.... The results are both inspiring and disturbing.... The book also includes hundreds of children's ink drawings of their play experiences with Beresin's materials. The value of the opportunity for children to play with art supplies and have a chance to express themselves through art is clear through Beresin's accounts... The images add a playfulness to the text and provide another means of documenting the impact of schoolyard play on children.... The Art of Play makes a strong case for the power of play, in the most fundamental, simple ways, in the lives of children, for the children, for schools, and for society."
"Although the focus of this brief book is recess, it conveys much more, offering a strong argument for the importance of play and art in children's education.... The examples of the children's play and art, as well as citations from many advocates for play and the arts, strengthen the book. By describing her experiences with administrators, teacher, and students, Beresin provides a vivid picture of the challenges the educational system faces and some ways to meet those challenges. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
Part I: Erasing Children’s Expressivity
Part II: Master Players
Part III: Balancing Acts
Anna R. Beresin is Professor of Liberal Arts at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Director of Recess Access, and author of Recess Battles: Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling.