Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Does Play Matter

What Did You Play With?
The idea that play can shape the way a child thinks and learns is common in American history. In 17th and 18th century colonial society, play, toys, and games were recognized as vital to a child’s mental and physical development. In the 19th century many children worked on farms and in factories, but still found time to play. The development of kindergartens, increased attendance in public schools, and the introduction of public playgrounds led to new ideas about play and more opportunities for it.

Dolls, games of strategy, vehicles, and construction toys such as the ones you see here have been continual favorites for centuries. But with new technologies in the 20th century--radio, movies, television, and computers--parents and educators wonder whether children are too dependent on passive entertainment and losing the benefits of traditional play. Inventors and historians wonder whether the changes in how we play will change how we invent.

To read more about invention and play visit

Let the Children Play, It's Good for Them! | Science & Nature

Let the Children Play, It's Good for Them!

A leading researcher in the field of cognitive development says when children pretend, they’re not just being silly—they’re doing science

  • By Alison Gopnik
  • Smithsonian magazine, July-August 2012

Walk into any preschool and you’ll find toddling superheroes battling imaginary monsters. We take it for granted that young children play and, especially, pretend. Why do they spend so much time in fantasy worlds?
People have suspected that play helps children learn, but until recently there was little research that showed this or explained why it might be true. In my lab at the University of California at Berkeley, we’ve been trying to explain how very young children can learn so much so quickly, and we’ve developed a new scientific approach to children’s learning.
Where does pretending come in? It relates to what philosophers call “counterfactual” thinking, like Einstein wondering what would happen if a train went at the speed of light.
In one study, my student Daphna Buchsbaum introduced 3- and 4-year-olds to a stuffed monkey and a musical toy and told them, “It’s Monkey’s birthday, and this is a birthday machine we can use to sing to Monkey. It plays “Happy Birthday” when you put a zando” (a funny-looking object) “on it like this.” Then she held up a different object and explained that it wasn’t a zando and therefore wouldn’t make the music play. Then she asked some tricky counterfactual questions: “If this zando wasn’t a zando, would the machine play music or not?” What if the non-zando was a zando? About half the 3-year-olds answered correctly.
Then a confederate took away the toys and Daphna said, “We could just pretend that this box is the machine and that this block is a zando and this other one isn’t. Let’s put the blocks on the machine. What will happen next?” About half said the pretend zando made pretend music, while the pretend non-zando did nothing (well, pretend nothing, which is quite a concept even if you’re older than 3).
We found children who were better at pretending could reason better about counterfactuals—they were better at thinking about different possibilities. And thinking about possibilities plays a crucial role in the latest understanding about how children learn. The idea is that children at play are like pint-sized scientists testing theories. They imagine ways the world could work and predict the pattern of data that would follow if their theories were true, and then compare that pattern with the pattern they actually see. Even toddlers turn out to be smarter than we would have thought if we ask them the right questions in the right way.
Play is under pressure right now, as parents and policymakers try to make preschools more like schools. But pretend play is not only important for kids; it’s a crucial part of what makes all humans so smart.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Congratulations to Co-op Dad Chris Long!

Coop Dad Chris Long, executive chef at Second Street won the Williamsburg Area Restaurant Associations Iron Chef competition.  We were so lucky to have Chris make the food for February's FUNraiser.  It was DELICIOUS!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Heart-felt Thanks

March 1, 2012 

A Heart-felt Thanks

Well, we’ve done it, or rather YOU’VE done it!

The Co-op’s Have A Heart FUNraiser was successful by all accounts thanks to you -- our families, teachers, friends, alumni, sponsors and most particularly our talented FUNraising Committee.  Thank you all so much for your support and hard work on this year’s fundraising event.  We had the highest participation level ever measured with nearly 100%!!!  As they say in Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Barton’s 3-day-3s, give yourself a silent cheer!  (Well, okay, stand up and just shout yippy! Or whatever else floats your boat!)

On a more serious note, I am so grateful to our wonderful Director Molly Gareis and all of our talented teachers who trusted the FUNraising Committee as it branched out and designed a completely different event than the school has traditionally held.  We needed a change of pace and to redirect, if even only temporarily. 

We recognize that in these tough economic times, businesses and families alike cannot realistically contribute to every solicitation received; we appreciate the moral support equally as well as the financial support.  We are especially grateful to our sponsors, donating businesses and families for this event.  We would not have been as successful without your support.  To our event sponors: Anonymous (2), The Blue Heron Restaurant, Colonial Sports, Cooke’s Gardens, Johnny Timbers, Pediatric Associates of Williamsburg, Second Street Bistro & Executive Chef Chris Long,, Williamsburg Event Rentals, and to our event donors: Bake Spot Cookies & Cupcakes by Anna Jourdane, Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Berret's Taphouse & Grill, Bill O'Donovan of the Virginia Gazette, Body Balance, The Butler Family, Busch Gardens/Water Country, The Cheese Shop, Children's Museum of Richmond, Disney World, Ferguson Center for the Arts, First Colony Pool, Ford's Colony Golf Club, Golf Galaxy, Goodyear, Indigo Park Pool, Hampton Roads Iceplex, Indigo Park Pool, James City County Williamsburg Community Center, Keurig, Kiln Creek Golf Club, Kingsmill Golf Club, Kingswood Pool, The Kueser Family, La Tienda & the Harris Families, The Long Family, Molly Gareis, Norfolk Admirals, Norfolk Botanical Gardens, Opus Nine Steakhouse, Paige & Norman Jacobs, Pinch of Thyme Catering by Marie Homer, Rockhound Charters, RockRidge River Retreat, The Schell Family, Stonehouse Golf Club, Target, The Spa at Colonial Williamsburg, Two Rivers Golf Club, The Waddell Family, Williamsburg Aquatic Club, Williamsburg National Golf Course, The Wright Family & Gary Robertson, The Wubbles Family, Yardworks of Williamsburg, Ye Old Buggy Bathe, and Zina's Produce.

We thank you from the bottom or our hearts!

I know that is a long list, but I would especially like to tease out a few familes for their live auction and event contributions:
Y  The Schell Family of Cooke’s Gardens not only loaned landscaping materials (which were transformed by our snow storm during set up, so you may have missed them) and zillions of lights which transformed the space into a delightful, twinkly party hall.  They also donated their mountain retreat house, RockRidge River Retreat House.

Y  The Butler Family donated two rounds of lawn care during the live auction and will also be hanging the new signs on the playground for the How Far to My House and the Playhouse on the playground.

Y  The Wright Family donated a lovely painting from local artist Gary Robertson (and proud Co-op grandfather) to the live auction.

Y  The Waddell Family and Kueser Family (alumni) graciously donated Golf packages from Two Rivers and Kingsmill, respectively.

Y  The Harris Families (alumni) of La Tienda doubled their offering of a weekend stay at their Chickahominy River Cabin.  A getaway without going too far.

Y  The Peretti-Hull Family were generous sponsors of the event as Johnny Timbers and

Y  And of course, Executive Chef Chris Long and Stacey Long absolutely out did themselves yet again with the best food.

Y  And last but not least, a thank you to our host families for going above and beyond in your sponsorship: the Anderson Family, the Axtell Family, the Barton Family, the Berquist Family, the Day Family, the Ferguson Family, the Gregory/Lavin Family, the Hull Family, the Rhyne/Parker Family, the Schulmine Family, the Wawersik Family and the Zickel Family.

Thank you all so much for your generosity!

A special thanks to alumni father and auctioneer Rick Overy of Compass Wealth Strategies and his auctioneering associate Aaron Williams of Williams Landscaping for keeping the momentum moving during the live auction component of the evening.

Thanks to all the husbands and other family members who tended bar (and helped with set up and clean up) and did their part in keeping us in high spirits!

While the school’s families, teachers and alumni played a vital role in donating time, energy and materials as well as attending the event, I am most grateful for the time, talent, and humility of our FUNraising Chair Lauri Wawersik and her committee:  Ann Armstrong, Loralee Clark, Amy Day, Melissa Ferguson, Allison Gaschen, Lisa Iannuzzelli, Betsy Lavin, Quan Nim, Alison Peabody, Sonya Peretti-Hull, Deirdre Roesch, Megan Rhyne, Stacey Long and Jennifer White.  These women not only worked creatively and tirelessly but they worked in such a mutually respectful manner which truly embodied the Co-op spirit.  When you see them, thank and congratulate them.  I greatly admired how each committee member used their particular set of skills – from editing, to designing, to rallying, pitching in to fill in any gaps, delegating, crafting, brainstorming, soliciting, organizing, supporting – the list seems endless.  I can’t say enough good things about them.  Without a doubt, they brought out the FUN in fundraising.  Thank you ladies!

One final plug for the event wrap up  -- we are conducting a survey to provide feedback on ideas, timing, etc. in order to decide which direction we take next year.  Please take a moment to fill out the survey through the link sent to you by Quan Nim.  If you didn’t receive it, just send her a quick note at:  Even if you were unable to attend the event, your feedback is so important to us!  Just 8 questions (9 if you want to write general comments).

As Co-op parents you know the spirit of fun is essential to learning and in the end, succeeding.  We are a school that believes children learn best through play.  We offer the unique opportunity for parents (and families) to play an active role in their child’s early educational experience and to form the often overlooked, but essential relationships with other parents.  We are a community that is an expansion of our own individual family.

A hearty thanks for all of your support.  Co-opers, you are a great family!

Susan B. Zickel
WPCP Board President