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Playing Makes You Smarter!

Hey, it’s official, Stuart Brown, an expert on play (wish I’d thought of becoming one of those) says that play makes us smarter. Problem is kids are getting less and less play time, the up-and-out-the-door kind that is. We’re spending a lot more time in front of screens it seems. And yes, I am acutely aware that I’m in front of one now as I compose this little ditty. But I promise to race out the door as soon as it’s done. Cross my heart.

In his recent article for the New York Times FreeFun2FinalStuart says, “True play may seem pointless — it is done for its own sake, because it’s fun — but ultimately it is also useful. From an evolutionary perspective, the smarter the animal, the more they play. For humans, play reinvigorates us not because it is down time, but because it gets us in touch with our core selves and the joy of life.”  Catch his full post here Let the Children Play (Some More)

Earlier today I played a game with myself. I was in a nearby but unfamiliar neighborhood and decided just to look around to see new stuff I’d never seen before. I headed down a street I’m sure I’ve never been on and just looked around. I’ve lived in the same town for a long time and as I wandered around I got to wondering just what percentage of streets I’d actually visited around here. Then I came to the corner and looked up at the signpost — Alien St.

Ha, bet you don’t have an Alien Street in your town! It’s a short street, only two blocks long. No wonder I haven’t seen it before. I began to wonder just who might be living on this street! Did they have three eyes and blink in and out of existence from time to time? Were they . . . friendly? Or were they growing creepy pods in their back gardens, ready to take over the native population and me with it?

I hurried along, lost in my playful mood, looking for a non-alien street and a meal. I decided to play I’m New Here and asked the first person I met “Hey, where’s the best place for breakfast around here? In an English accent she directed me to a local coffee chain store. She must live on Alien St I thought.

I thanked her politely and silently rejected her advice. The next guy I asked, without hesitation suggested the Rusty Pelican, a couple of blocks down on the left. I figure when a guy answers that fast it’s either a really good place or he owns it.

Sauntering up to the RP I noticed that the awning outside was indeed rusty, but the inside was light and airy with a country kitchen kind of charm that wasn’t over done with too many geegaws. (Using just the right amount of geegaws is a lost art in some parts.)

The food was great, the service fast and friendly. Best part (close your eyes if you’re counting calories) they serve you not half and half, but heavy cream with your coffee. Hmmm.

Okay, so I know this is a post about play and my kind of play today might be kinda mundane, but hey I was out in the sunshine, I used my imagination, explored uncharted territory, conversed with the locals, avoided being slurped up in an alien invasion, and I foraged for food. I figure these skills will come in handy if I ever decide to grow up! Not promising, mind you.

And I’m feeling quite a bit smarter than I was yesterday!

Read On!
Amanda Lorenzo

8 comments to Playing Makes You Smarter!

  • Too true, Amanda! My grandchildren’s favorite times are those that get them out to the beach to play and find whatever’s interesting in the rocks and sand, or into the park, riding a bike, where they’re likely to run into other playmongers! Thanks for the great tip on Alien Street. Must . . . find . . . playmates. . .

  • Amanda

    Thanks Ceci. May playmates . . .find . . .you! Another reader chided me for not including the ever lovin’ address of the RP. So, for you Seattle folks or those coming to visit, here’s the scoop:

    Rusty Pelican Cafe(highly rated by Amanda Lorenzo)
    1924 N 45th St
    Seattle, WA
    (206) 545-9090

  • Amanda,

    Wonderful adventure. Thanks for sharing. When I remember to do it, I enjoy and am unplifted by starting my day with, “I’m new here,” and remind myself of that often through the day. Fun!

  • It is also fun to try to pronounce misspelled words like unplifted from my prior comment. 🙂

  • Amanda


    May you always be unplifted!


  • Jennifer Rauh

    Here’s the secret behind this “play” stuff that most grown-ups can’t understand…when children (and even adults) play, they are gaining experience. For children it is a crucial time to act out personalities and become well-rounded adults. Go figure right? 🙂 …sorry, I had to let my teacher side flourish for a moment. lol

  • …and I love how play itself plays hide and seek with us.

    And the band plays on….

    Cheerily, O

  • This formal post encouraged me very much! Bookmarked the site, extremely excellent topics everywhere that I read here! I appreciate the info, thank you.

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