BOOK LOOK – Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown MD

 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~ 

PLAY: How It Shapes the Brain,

Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul

by Stuart Brown

~ Review ~

Dr. Stuart Brown’s book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul backs up with data and research everything I’ve come to know and have experienced in my 50+ years of being an elementary educator, homeschooling mom, and all around joyfully playful creative human being at every age and stage of my life.

Play is . . .

  • Play is required, on par with eating + sleeping + breathing, for the health and well being of our families, communities, and the world at large.
  • Play is the gateway for all of us to access our creativity and provides the catalyst for gathering all that we need on our life learning journey.
  • Play is where innovation comes from and has been the platform from which so many unique and very much needed ideas are launched into the world. (example: see story of Velcro)
  • Play is always an opportunity to express your most authentic self whether playing alone or together with other folks.
  • Play is engaging with books, movies, the arts, sports, games, hobbies, work you love or getting a job done more joyfully, day-dreaming, music, etc. What would your life look like without these? Yikes!
  • Play is like oxygen. So be sure to <Breathe in> and <Breathe out> mindfully and regularly!
  • P.L.A.Y. + Pass it on!!! ❤

In our Western culture where play is often written off as extra or frivolous it is helpful to be reminded of just how necessary it is for our human survival and thriving. If you’d like to see more of the data to support these ideas please take a moment to read Dr. Brown’s book. It is a game changer. 🙂

~ Reflections ~

Play and Learning Go Hand-in-Hand at ALL Ages + Stages

A truer statement could not be spoken. This is at the heart of it ALL.

This is also the very premise on which  P.L.A.Y. Passionate Learning All Year is based.

As the adult you are now, or even better when you were a child,  can you think of any situation in which there isn’t an opportunity for growth and learning? Not a chance.

Every day we have the opportunity to learn and expand what we know, how we know it, getting it into our bones, digging deeper, and playing with ideas to fully engage with the human experience.

Laura Grace Weldon says on page 1 in Chapter 1 of her excellent resource guide titled Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything (chapter-by-chapter reviews HERE)

“And, of course, children play. Play is generative, transforming the ordinary into something unique. It also imparts advanced social skills and a creative approach to life.”

And if you combine that with the work of Dr. Stuart Brown you will realize that kiddos AND adults have been playing, learning, and working side-by-side with each other in their families and communities since the beginning of time. Folks of all ages engaging together, indoors and out, naturally modeling for each other the skills they need to survive and thrive.

Work and play go hand-in-hand, at every age and stage of our lives, and now more than ever with the mindful and beneficial use of technology we can create lives that match our natural rhythms and earn a livelihood that allows us to be inspired and engaged daily. We can pursue our passions, play along the way, and share our hard work with the world naturally learning throughout the journey.

In other words, for kiddos and adults, both Stuart Brown’s and Laura Weldon’s books give you permission to embrace your authentic selves, play daily which gives you the space and grace to let your natural talents shine through, and bring these gifts forward to be of service throughout your lifetime.

AND if you can weave connecting to and engaging with nature into all of this work and play it will benefit you, your loved ones, and the planet ten fold.  Your authentic Work + P.L.A.Y. + Nature is a recipe for a full-filling life sharing your true gifts.

Sounds like pure genius right? That is what Laura call’s using one’s gifts – true genius.

So, what are you waiting for?

Time to experience P.L.A.Y. in action by picking up your copy of Stuart Brown’s PLAY: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul and putting it into practice today.

And while you are at it take a peek at Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon (spoiler alert – it isn’t just for homeschoolers – all Life Learners are welcome!).

You and your family will be ever so glad you did.

Sending Smiles ~ Karen 🙂

Note: This was re-posted with edits and additions from my BOOK LOOK post– Free Range Learning -series Chapter 1 Review found HERE )

~ Recommended Books for P.L.A.Y. in Nature ~

Purchase these titles HERE

A Simple Gift: Train Horns – Sounds Like

Passing forward this SIMPLE GIFT to inspire and encourage everyone on their

naturally curious and creative P.L.A.Y.-filled journey.

❤ ❤ ❤

‘Tis the Season for special sights and sounds

and to remember to BE PRESENT all year round!

– – – – – – – – – -TRAIN HORN = SOUNDS LIKE – – – – – – – – – –

While my family and I built our new home in a hilltown of Massachusetts we stayed temporarily in an apartment that was right below a set of train tracks in a small village.

Every day for nearly a year we delighted in the sound of the oncoming train and loved identifying it by the sound of the horn. It was a game of sorts to use only our hearing to become familiar with this new “oddity” that became a part of our daily rhythms.

There was the squeaky wheel horn and the loud + proud horn and an odd one named the city traffic horn.

However our favorite horn hands down was the one we called, unfortunately and yet true to the sound, the strangled goose.

This horn gave off a sound that was so strange that you couldn’t help but chuckle every time you heard it. Even when we were many streets away walking to the post office we knew when the strangled goose was going by. I often wondered why someone didn’t try to adjust the sound and let the “goose” horn sing more sweetly.

It is rare for us to hear a train horn where we live now as we are happily nestled in amongst mountains and meadows deeper into the hilltown setting.

However, now when I happen to cross the path of a train horn it always generates a smile as I remember the simple gift of those P.L.A.Y.-filled moments created in getting to know those horns and learning more about the sounds and rhythm of the little village we temporarily called home.

Sending Smiles,

Karen ;0) 🙂

BOOK LOOK – Red Sled by Lita Judge

 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~

Here’s to celebrating the 1st big snow storm of the year that dropped a whopping 20+ inches of fluffy white sledding stuff on WMass!

Time to P.L.A.Y. – Snow Day!

Then curl up with some cocoa, mini-marshmallows, and this sweet book.

Red Sled

by Lita Judge

Karen’s short + long of it with P.L.A.Y.ful story preview & P.L.A.Y.-filled activity adventure suggestions.

P.L.A.Y.ful story preview (short):

A “Scrinch, Scrunch, scrinch, scrunch,” Surprise in the Snow with a Sled – Sweeeeeeeeeet!!!

Winter Wonders & Animals in Action

Childhood Charm

P.L.A.Y.-filled activity adventure suggestions (long):

  • Challenge: Sledding is P.L.A.Y.  for ALL AGES, big hill and little hills, will add some “weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” time into your life!
  • Super Challenge: While you are out there make some tracks and create designs, or mazes, or fanciful artwork to simply enjoy or take a snapshot to share your P.L.A.Y.-filled day.
  • Super-Duper Challenge: Write your own sled adventure and answer the question “Who would you like to see out your window to go sledding with?”
  • Super Spectacular Challenge: Create a friends and family event to be out in the snow under the full moon with thermoses of hot cocoa and marshmallows too!
  • Super-Duper-Spectacular Challenge: Can you spot any “smooth sled like” tracks near your home in the woods or at the local nature sanctuary? Who made these sled-like tracks? Are they near a brook, stream, or water source? What did they make this track with? Hint: Perhaps it was a Castor Canadensis that did! * See The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver (here) to learn more.

Capkins LOVE to be read to – especially playful nature themed story books!

  Be sure to visit and support your local library! ❤ ❤ ❤


BOOK LOOK- Look What I Did With A Leaf! by Morteza Sohi

 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~

Look What I Did With A Leaf!

by Morteza Sohi

Karen’s short + long of it with P.L.A.Y.ful story preview & P.L.A.Y.-filled activity adventure suggestions.

P.L.A.Y.ful story preview (short):

Lots of Layered Leaves

 Adventures Assembling Autumn Leaf Animals

Collage Crafts, Contrasting Colors, Cycle of a Leaf, and so much more!

P.L.A.Y.-filled activity adventure suggestions (long):

  • Challenge: Prepare ahead by gathering many leaves of various sizes and colors and pressing them to dry AND WAITING ONE WEEK until the leaves are ready for crafting.
  • Super Challenge: While you wait a week for the leaves to dry be considering the art you’d like to make. Is it a simple collage of color? Assembling an animal like the photo’s in Morteza’s leaf work? Or creating a larger piece with seasonal scenery? 
  • Super-Duper Challenge: What other materials in nature could you use in your art work? Pressed flower petals? Seeds? Various colors of stones or sand? Experiment!
  • Super-Duper-Special- Challenge: Look up landscape art ( and the well known Andy Goldsworthy) and outdoor ephemeral art for more simple to super challenging adventures. 

Capkins LOVE to be read to – especially P.L.A.Y.-full nature themed story books! ❤ ❤ ❤

  Be sure to visit and support your local library = All Good! ❤ ❤ ❤


Nature Alliteration Adventures ARE All Around

Alliteration = playing with words and creating phrases beginning

with the same letter of the alphabet or the same sounds.

❤ ❤ ❤

A curious Capkin spies a happy heart on a silent stone.

❤ ❤ ❤

The Nature Alliteration Adventures are a series of posts shared every Monday – Wednesday – Friday that I have created inspired by my daily “sense of wonder” walks out in the fields and forests in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts.

The companion P.L.A.Y. Nature Adventure Guide Books are available here for purchase to bring along as you explore the great outdoors in every season. They are designed to encourage curiosity and provide a place to capture the connections you make while discovering nature’s many simple and treasured gifts.

I hope you and your friends and family will join in the fun and have many P.L.A.Y.-filled adventures together.

Time to take a stretch and step away from the screen, bring your curious Capkin, and realign with your naturally creative and P.L.A.Y.-full self.



Meadows or mountains, babbling brook or your own backyard, the magic in nature awaits your arrival!

Let the P.L.A.Y. begin!

Sending smiles,

Karen ;0) 🙂


Let the P.L.A.Y. begin!


Passionate Learning All Year

OK- here it goes – my first post as I prepare to launch my new naturally creative business.

My intention is to encourage everyone to engage daily with nature, curiosity, imagination, and to inspire folks and kiddos alike to pursue their passions and make creative connections.

In other words — P.L.A.Y.! 🙂

I believe this is our homework and this is our life’s work.

Here is to the first of many steps on this mindful wonder-filled adventure.

I am so glad you can join in the fun! 🙂

Let the journey begin!

Sending smiles,

Karen ;0)

❤ ❤ ❤

See CAPKINs tab + See U Soon!