Dare You Not to Smile!

Not sure anyone can watch this video of “loose parts” free play at a school in Portland, Oregon, and not smile. Look how the kids are SO ALIVE, so CREATIVE, so ENGAGED and just so dang funny.

Loose parts are just what they sound like — any kind of thing a kid might want to play with: suitcases, old tires, cardboard boxes. The stuff at this school looks mostly like…junk. (It looks totally like junk, but I’m trying to be diplomatic.)

That’s all it takes — plus a whole lot of kids — to turn on every neuron in a growing brain. If you’re in Portland, check out the Free Play Portland site — they have a pop-up playground going up on Saturday, Aug. 20 — tomorrow!

In a country worried that its kids are anxious and depressed. In a country where the Surgeon General is focused — and rightly so! — on loneliness. In a country where kids have been deprived of normality for such a long stretch that they worry that they don’t know how to make friends, PLAY IS THE ANSWER!

To start a Let Grow Play Club at your school, just click here, for gosh’ sake. All our materials are free. If you print out our implementation guide and hate it — just use it as loose parts for origami. Make it into a hat! Eat your lunch off it!

But it just COULD be that mixed-age, loose-parts, no-kids-on-their-phones FUN is just the antidote kids need.

And they may even build you a whole new school! (Out of cardboard.)