Fellows in the News

"A plastic piece of play equipment is the same color, the same texture and the same shape every day," says Christy Merrick, director of the Natural Start Alliance, a Washington, D.C. play advocacy group for early-childhood educators. "We would advocate a much more naturalistic approach."

She suggests parents set aside a play area and provide "loose parts," such as a pile of leaves, smooth pebbles of different shapes, twigs, sand or soil. Children will let their imaginations run to build with the objects. "A rope that is a fire hose is much more valuable than a fire hose," Ms. Merrick says. "It's a much richer form of play."

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