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K-8: Exploring Character Through Play
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Play is considered an extra, a nicety, but is one of the most complex layered forms of communication on the planet.

 Export to Your Calendar 2/6/2019
When: February 6, 2019
Wednesday, 8:30am-3:30pm
Where: Friends Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  19102
United States

Online registration is available until: 2/5/2019
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CSEE Members
First attendee from a member school: $125
Additional attendees from same school: $100

First attendee: $200
Additional attendees: $175


Target Audience

K-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 and the function of play in athletics
  • Play in the arts and sciences in the lower and middle school years, and across the disciplines
  • Interplay: drawing connections between play, grit and resilience; addressing connections that play can make within a curriculum (language play in a math problem, playing with gravity in science, etc.)
  • Replay:  bullying and other antisocial behaviors


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


Lead Facilitator

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.

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

The study of play is filled with contradictions. We celebrate children’s skill through play, and yet are often in the position of interfering. Play is considered an extra, a nicety, but is one of the most complex layered forms of communication on the planet. This talk will address key contradictions in the literature and invite us to see how we can support the complexity of children’s own creative expression. 


Anna Beresin, Ph.D., serves as Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and co-directs NEUARTS, the university’s neighborhood engagement program. Her books include Recess Battles (University Press of Mississippi) and The Art of Play (Temple University Press.) Her new book on dance games will be published in a year through McFarland Press.  She is known for her particularly bad puns.







Wednesday, February 6th

Please check back soon for a more detailed agenda.
8:30am -  Arrival and Registration
9:00am -  Opening 
12:00    -  Lunch
4:00pm -  Depart


The Friends Center is located in the city center of Philadelphia. For detailed directions, please visit their site


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


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