Thank you!

We did it! With help from all of the playful adults and children in our PlayCorps community we played through another successful summer!

Through the love and support of our community, we were able to accomplish so much this summer.

We were able to play on a brand new swing….

We were able to give back to our little animal friends….

We were able to have an excuse to get down and dirty….

We were able to let our imaginations run wild….

And most of all, we were able to have a reason to thank you for supporting us!

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for sticking with us this summer. And don’t forget to stay tuned for more PlayCorps related news in the coming months! We promise you’ll be seeing alot more of us!

-The PlayCorps team

PlayCorps extended until August 25th!

We have some exciting news, PlayCorps will be extended an extra week this summer! Due to all the support from our wonderful community we will keep the program up and running at two parks.

Come and join us during our current hours 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, August 21st to Friday, August 25th at General Street Park and Harriet & Sayles Park. Enjoy the end of summer with lots of fun, we hope to see you there!

-The PlayCorps team

Play Leader Series: The PlayCorps Regulars

Here at Bucklin Park, the children we see all the time define our play space: setting the tone for how other children engage with us and the space. As the other children are more transient they come to the park from camp groups. Some of these camp groups include, Tae kwon do, local rec centers, daycares, and even our neighborhood library academic camp. Most of these kids look to our park regulars for cues on how to engage with us, our materials, and everything the park has to offer.

One of our most adored park regulars is a young girl. She comes to Bucklin with her mom and four younger siblings. She is a natural leader and is always tells us what materials to bring out each day for everyone to play with. When her and her family miss one day at the park, all of Bucklin notices! When the kids from the basketball court stop by for water, they ask, “Where is everyone?”. Lunch staff says, “We were expecting her and co., they would have loved the toy we gave for lunch today!”.

The kids from camps look to her and her family for how to behave. If she says, “be good to the ants!”, then everyone acts super careful. When she screams, “Let’s get messy!”, and digs her hands into the mix of cornstarch and shaving cream, better believe the other kids are animatedly doing the same!   

Because of this, I have to say working at Bucklin this summer has been tremendously rewarding and just a great time! Our park truly comes alive thanks to our returning families. Campers and neighborhood kids alike, want to help clean up at the end of the day, they want to decorate the trees and the playground for tomorrow, and take their creations home to show their families.

Today, after a hot day playing with the mini pools, my staff and I had to dump, dry, and put it into storage. The little girl, our amazing ring leader, said, “Wait! Let me have the rest of that so I can water the grass.”, and all of the other kids around her promptly joined in! The kids joke with us that there is one spot on the field that looks like a “bald man's head” because there is only grass on the Perimeter and not the center. Heart-warming. The last thing we did today was to decorate our favorite tree near the basketball court with her, her family and some of the other park regulars. To show everyone that this is our park and remind them that, when we leave, “Kids play here!”.

-M. Smith

Play Leader Series: Garden Club

Camden Ave/Father Lennon Park is lucky to have a beautifully lush community garden. There are about 14 plots in the garden and anyone in the community can request a plot before the season begins.  Catherine Mardos, the City Gardener, does workshops at many of the community gardens in the city, including the one on Camden Ave.  Our community garden also has two Resident Gardners, Providence College students Kate Corwin and Matt Levvechio.  In collaboration with The Madeline Rogers Rec Center right next to the park, PlayCorps, and the teen program that Matt and Kate run, Youth RAP (Youth Resident Activities Program), we recently started a summer garden club for any and all kids that want to learn more about gardening!
The kids at the Rec & PlayCorps love being in the garden to help water the plants and observe all the wonderful plants growing through the summer. We have sky-high sun flowers, crunchy cucumbers, snappy snow peas, and ripening tomatoes!  A handful of Rec kids and three boys from the neighborhood are garden club regulars.  Besides daily garden upkeep, the garden club’s first major project was creating a three-bin composter.  This composter was made out of seven wood shipping pallets.  Catherine, the City Gardener, as well as Matt and Kate and the kids dug small ditches, about 8-inches deep into the ground, and then vertically inserted the 3 pallets to create the wall of the composter.  Two palettes were then inserted on either sides as bookends, to hold the compost in, and two more pallets were used in the middle of the compost bin, to create three separate bin areas.
The kids then painted and decorated the wood compost bin.  Almost all the kids in the park participated, and even some adults, including this Play Leader ☺.  Besides this being a fun and creative project, the kids also learned about the purpose of compost; to create fertilizer for plants by collecting fruit, vegetable, and egg scraps and letting them sit in the sun, to eventually transform into a nourishing sludge for the garden soil. Parents also asked about it and got to learn too.
Gardening as a life skill teaches patience while with tasks like watering and pulling weeds. Gardening can begin at a young age and be continued throughout the lifespan, transforming into a productive yet calming hobby. Plus it’s an excuse to get down and dirty having some fun outside!
If you think your child might be interested in garden club, come on by to Camden Ave/Father Lennon Park on Monday and Thursday mornings, between 9:30 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. Feel free to stay to play with PlayCorps afterward, until 2 p.m. and get a lunch! Come see all the beautiful butterflies, flowers, and veggies we have growing!
-Svetlana Goretaya

Introducing Our Play Leader Series

Over the next couple of weeks PlayCorps would like to introduce a special blog series. These stories will be written through the eyes of our very own play leaders, bringing their unique experiences and perspectives to the table. Play Leaders, as all playworkers, take on the role of peer rather than authority figure when playing with children. They are an integral part of our team at each park, and are excited to share their discoveries, thoughts, and stories with our online PlayCorps community over the next month.

See you soon!

The PlayCorps Team

Germs: an unlikely factor in immune system development

Antibacterial: a simple word that has produced complex problems.

Common household items such as soap, detergents, and household cleaning products have antibacterial agents which function to inhibit the growth and reproduction of bacteria (1).

At first glance, the use of products with antibacterial agents may seem exclusively beneficial. But this isn’t always the case. When hyper hygienic products are combined with a hyper hygienic environment, the lack of interaction with bacteria may disadvantage your child. Kids need to be exposed to bacteria-ridden environments like the dirty outdoors in order to develop a healthy immune system: making them less susceptible to disease and better able to live a happy and healthy life (2). Of course, this isn’t to say that antibacterial products shouldn’t be used and that kids shouldn’t wash their hands. They can both be beneficial in the prevention of disease, and it’s okay to spend a majority of one’s time in a cleanly environment (3). It just shouldn’t be ALL of one’s time.
Conveniently, the environments filled with immune system strengthening bacteria also happen to be the most fun! Parks are special places filled with fun playgrounds, water parks, activities, and adventures waiting to be had. Providence is known for its parks and there’s no question why.

From planting flowers in a community garden…


To science experiments….


and even jumping in mud puddles…


There is a ton to do at your nearest park this Summer! If you’re really down for a fun time, come visit PlayCorps at one of our 4 locations this year!

Bucklin Park:

07%2F17%2F17 tent house is a much needed shade.jpg

Camden Avenue Park:


General Street Park:


Harriet & Sayles Park:


See you soon!
The PlayCorps Team


(1) Antibacterials in household products. (2010). APUA. Retrieved 27 July 2017, from

(2) Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer Use. (2017). Retrieved 27 July 2017, from

(3) Sing, D., & Sing, C. (2010). Impact of Direct Soil Exposures from Airborne Dust and Geophagy on Human Health. International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health, 7(3), 1205-1223.

The Power of Music

“Crack! Pop! Bonk! Clank!”

The sound of play echoed through the park. To an outsider, the sight of old buckets, pots, trash cans, and boxes arranged in a circle might appear lackluster and without value. But using a combination of drumsticks, hands, and style, the children of Camden Avenue Park were transformed into musicians. That is, gleeful musicians: the sound of their laughter nearly overpowered their percussional medley from the get-go.

This isn’t a stand-alone occurence: music has proven time and time again to be a reliable way to illuminate the faces of children with smiles. The beauty in the simplicity of materials utilized by PlayCorps is that any child, regardless of where they are or what they have available, can find a way to replicate this play by themselves to bring about a joyful experience.

At our newest location, Bucklin Park, musical play pervades as well. On their very first day there, the team refurbished bins, pots, and even a bird house to create their very own drum set. Sitting next to a PlayCorps Leader, a young boy at Bucklin was able to engage in parallel play, a form of play in which children play adjacent to each other, but do not try to influence one another's behavior This form of play shows us that you don’t need expensive equipment or many others around to have fun, you just need yourself, and a playful spirit.

Glass and its unwanted presence in Providence parks

Many assume broken bottles and shards of glass wouldn’t make an appearance in public parks. The General Street Park PlayCorps team knows that it does. Day-in and Day-out staff works to clean up their park to ensure it is safe for children to play in. Fortunately, due to their efforts and the efforts of Providence Parks Grounds Crew at the parks throughout the city, children are able to have memorable, fun, and safe times at public parks with nothing to worry about.

The picture below, taken by the General Street Park PlayCorps team before the children arrived at their park for the day, belies a fundamental concern with littering-behavior.
Each morning when staff arrives, shattered glass bottles and scattered shards can be found everywhere. The picture only represents a small portion of what was collected to make the park safe for the day.

Many do not realize the magnitude of the glass issue because good-willed workers do everything in their power to clean up all the glass each morning: ensuring there is no risk to others during the day.

But the problem is real. When people drink outside overnight, many not only litter but toss their bottles onto the ground: generating the shards of glass. Those who do so may have not recognized the negative impact they could have on park goers during the day.

It’s extremely important for all of us to come together and work to keep our parks clean. Whether it be through remembering not to litter or reminding a friend that littering does not help anyone and only bears the potential to hinder. By keeping our parks clean, not only will it help improve their vibrancy, but it will free up city staff to devote more of their time to improving and helping our neighborhoods in other significant ways.

What are the benefits of play-based learning?

The sun was shining signifying another beautiful day at Camden Avenue/Father Lennon Park. Being the first day of PlayCorps, neighborhood children wandered into the park unsure of what to expect. Noticing loose parts and unconventional objects scattered around, the children came up with a plan: orchestrating an all-out PlayWar. The idea, entirely from the minds of the children, was that each ball-like object could be used to tag others in the park. Once tagged 6 times, whether adult or child, that individual was sent to ‘jail’. One can only imagine what unorthodox and fun materials they used to construct the ‘jail’.

 A neighborhood child participating at Camden Avenue/Father Lennon Park

Play is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “recreational activity; especially:  the spontaneous activity of children”. Learning is defined as, “modification of a behavioral tendency by experience”. Play-based learning combines these two by allowing children to learn through experience and activity. The benefits of play-based learning are impressive and proven to work.

1. Social and emotional development

Allowing children to make social interactions with other children they are able to learn vital social skills. Erika Christakis, MEd, MPH and Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD both studied these developments at an early age and concluded that by allowing children to engage in free play “young children can routinely observe and learn from others' emotions and experiences.”

2.   Self-awareness and confidence

Expressing oneself is extremely important for a child to start doing at a young age. Children who have the option to choose what subjects they want to learn more about and be themselves promotes confidence. Say a child who normal struggles with math, but loves natural science can choose to capture and identify different bugs. The child can be confident with different types of bugs and teach other children about them: building confidence.

3. Imagination and creativity are sparked

Providing children with raw tools such as cardboard, tape, or even nature itself allows kids to explore their imagination. When kids are told to create, whatever comes to their mind rather than set instructions it opens many doors creatively in the way they think.

4.Increase in physical fitness and well-being

Unlike other learning modalities where sitting in a chair for hours on end is the norm, play-based learning allows children to run around and engage in physical activity. Increasing incidental physical activity is paramount to improving a child’s holistic well-being. As the intensity of physical activity increases blood flow to the brain does so in a commensurate fashion. This increase in blood flow can lead to heightened retentive abilities, healthier brain development, and a number of other positive outcomes. Physical activity is typically perceived as monotonous and uneventful, leading to low adherence rates. When the line between play and exercise blurs, this is no longer an issue.

5. Light at the end of the tunnel

Cultivating a creative, confident, and optimistic mindset serves children well during development. Play-based learning is not only a wonderful cultivator of all three, but it remains a fun way to brighten the day of all those involved. And in the end, isn’t that just as important?

Christakis, Erika, and Nicholas Christakis. "Want To Get Your Kids Into College? Let Them Play." N.p., 2017. Web. 7 July 2017.
"Definition Of LEARNING." N.p., 2017. Web. 7 July 2017.
"Definition Of PLAY." N.p., 2017. Web. 7 July 2017.
NANDI, ANISHA. "Junkyard Or Playground Paradise? Kids Making Their Own Adventures." N.p., 2017. Web. 7 July 2017.