Play with a Purpose

As the authors emphasize in their first chapter, movement has a language and a structure of its own, requiring children to develop fluent, flexible, original, and creative minds. As children develop physically, so do the exercises that concentrate on running, climbing, swinging, and hanging in the lower primary grades and on more organized team sports, gymnastics, and dance activities in the intermediate and upper grades.

Each chapter offers a prescribed series of activities followed by student-designed games that emerge out of the mastery of various physical skills, hand-and-eye coordination, balance, and the handling of various physical objects and equipment. The design of the exercises, the charts, illustrations, diagrams, and photographs is cumulative, advancing teachers as well as students to higher levels of skill.

Concepts of space, force, time, and flow receive precise definitions in narrative introductions to the chapters as well as in the exercises. Also covered are the practical aspects of setting up a movement program: how to use individualized study, resource centers, and optional instruction.

Traditional games such as jump rope and hopscotch are given new variations, and children are challenged not only to master skills but also to develop a sense of finesse. As they gain self-confidence, more competition is introduced into their games and dances. In the higher grades, physical, aesthetic, and cultural concerns are integrated by introducing children to folk dancing, square dancing, and other ethnic and national varieties of dance.

Although this is a learned book concerned with theories of play and childhood development, its attractively presented exercises and comprehensive bibliography will be of interest to scholars and general readers alike.