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K-8: Exploring Character Through Play
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Play is one of the most complex layered forms of communication on the planet.

When: March 6, 2020
Friday, 8:30am-3:30pm
Where: The Children's School
345 10th St NE
Atlanta, Georgia  30309
United States

Online registration is closed.
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CSEE Members

First attendee from a member school: $150

Additional attendees from same school: $125 



First attendee: $225

Additional attendees: $200


Target Audience

This event is for PK-8 educators.



In our current era of high-stakes testing, market-driven school choice, awareness of learning differences, and increasing sense of competition for selective college admissions, it is easy to lose a sense of the importance of play. When compared to the importance of disciplined study, play may seem frivolous and worthy of a lower priority. Students are asked to sit for tests, to show grit and to accept failure, so play may also seem like a form of work avoidance, like a distraction from what should be the real business of education, namely, the mastery of hard facts and skills.

Despite these trends against play, recent research shows that play has the capacity to improve a young person's focus and their academic performance while also having an impact on character development by reducing bullying and by improving conflict resolution.

By coming together for a conference on "Play and Character Development," we hope to reinvigorate and reaffirm the importance of play in K-8 education (and beyond!) through looking at the following sub-topics:

  • Play as a catalyst for moral and character development
  • Philosophy and psychology of play
  • Recess play - structured, unstructured, and the function of play in athletics
  • Play across the disciplines (arts, sciences, language arts, technology, human growth and development, etc.)
  • Dilemmas around play:  bullying, rough and tumble play, safety vs. freedom, social media and antisocial behaviors

 The conference will conclude with a swap shop for participants to share ideas and successes towards an idea bank.


Facilitator / Presenter 

Rabbi Judd Kruger Levingston, Ph.D., attended and has taught at a wide variety of independent boarding and day, faith-based and non-sectarian single gender and co-ed schools. As the Director of Jewish Studies at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, he teaches courses on ethics, classical Jewish texts, Jewish history and comparative religion and convenes the school's Honor Council. He has been a frequent contributor to CSEE Connections and he is the author of Sowing the Seeds of Character: The Moral Education of Adolescents in Public and Private Schools (Praeger, 2009). A believer in the importance of play in character development, he enjoys playing Frisbee and piano and he is an avid bicycle commuter.



Presenter:  Paradoxes of Play: What We Think Play Is and Isn’t

Anna Beresin, Ph.D., serves as professor of psychology and folklore in the School of Critical Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and co-directs NEUARTS, the university's neighborhood engagement program.  Her books include "Recess Battles" (University of Mississippi Press) and "The Art of Play (Temple University Press) and she is co-editor of the International Journal of Play.  She is known for her particularly bad puns.






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Friday, March 6th

8:30-9:00   Coffee

9:00-9:45   Welcome by Bob Mattingly; Anna Beresin's Keynote: Character of Play
9:45-10:15   Diversity and Peer Culture
10:15-10:30   Recess Games
10:30-10:45   Break
10:45-12:00   Group Discussion: Challenges on the Playground


12-12:30   Lunch (included with registration)

12:30 -1:45   Judd Levingston's Keynote: Play and Character in the Classroom
1:45-2:30   Art and Play
2:30 -2:45   Break
2:45 -3:15   Design Your Own Toolkit; Strategies for Play at School


The Children's School is located 0.6 miles from the MARTA Midtown Transit Station, and has several walkable hotels. We highly recommend taking public transit, as parking is tricky in the area and the school will not have designated parking for our group.

For those flying into ATL, the MARTA Midtown Transit Station is 11 stops from the airport. 

Walkable hotels include:

The Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Midtown (0.8 miles from the school)

The Hyatt Centric Midtown Atlanta (0.5 miles from the school)

Loews Atlanta Hotel (0.7 miles from the school)



Please see CSEE's Event Policy to learn more about cancellations and refunds.


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