When the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse opened its doors in 1899, it stood at the forefront of a national playground movement and served as a model for the importance of play in children’s lives. Today, Smith remains a vital resource to the community, promoting and providing access to play for more than 180,000 children and adults annually, from throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond. Smith offers children from diverse backgrounds free, accessible, and one-of-a-kind play experiences that support their physical, emotional, and cognitive growth.
This mobile workshop will explore Smith Playground, its facility, its story, and its impact as an urban public park. Smith’s 6.5-acre Playground and the 16,000-square-foot Playhouse offer endless opportunities for unstructured play, gross motor activities, nature exploration, social-emotional development, literacy engagement, and creative expression. The discussion will also center on the playground movement as an intrinsic part of American culture, its development alongside the growth and decline of cities and suburbs, and the subsequent impacts and disparities in American childhood. Smith staff and volunteers offer daily visitors an array of scheduled and spontaneous activities such as fort building, mud sculpture creation, and nature arts & crafts to inspire creativity, family bonding, social interaction, and healthy outdoor play. This mobile workshop will explore Smith Playground, its facility, its story, and its impact as an urban public park.
- Learn the history of the Playground Movement from the early 1900's to the present
- Identify varying definitions of play and the ways in which public spaces can provide a diverse range of play experiences
- Understand how trends and attitudes toward play reflect and are influenced by broader cultural and societal trends