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How Play is an Integral Part of Learning at 826LA

Writing is hard work. Ask any writer you know about it.

Writing is hard work. Ask any writer you know about it. The writers I know tell me that they sometimes need to force themselves to write for a few hours a day every day, and even then, it's hard to not get lost in your head. At 826LA, we trick students into believing that writing is incredibly fun. During one of our daily field trips to our space, students are told they must publish a book in a few hours by a mysterious and grumpy editor named Mr. Barnacle. They never see him, but they do hear his booming voice over a loudspeaker threatening to fire each student if their books do not meet his standards. Miraculously, all of our students succeed at the challenge and go home with their very own, unique storybook to show their friends and family.

It's through the spirit of play and fun that we engage young people to put pen to paper with the ultimate goal being that they will be published in one of the hundreds of titles we release every school year. During our After-School Tutoring programs at our Echo Park and Mar Vista locations, the room stops at the sound of a cowbell signaling that a particular student finished a final draft of a story. At that point everyone applauds the new author for his or her hard work. It's a real achievement for our students to be recognized for their writing. It's something we believe will help them make the effort again and again until one day their self confidence and willingness to work hard will be how they take on all challenges.

All that said, we know our students have a different definition of what it means to play and have fun. So, in honor of GOOD's "Play" theme, we asked our young authors to submit some pieces where they describe their favorite games. Their examples just show how important it is for kids to get out of the classroom and take time out to play:

Citlali R., Age 10, Mar Vista

Tag: My favorite outdoor game is tag, because you do a lot of running. I like tag because you can be with your friends, and when you play tag you have to run, and you have a lot of fun. It is important to make time to play because you have a lot of homework and you get tired so you need time to refresh and cool down. The only reason you need time to play is because you think a lot, so you need to refresh your memory. I think tag is fun, so it's my favorite outdoor game.

Janette M., Age 10, Mar Vista

Soccer: My favorite outdoor game is soccer. I trick people—they think I am going to throw it to the right side, but I am not, I am going to throw it to the left side. It makes you smart, healthy, energetic, and more. It is interesting because it is girls vs. boys. I am on a team and I like to play defense and the girls win more than the boys. Pink and grey are our uniform colors for the games. We are called the Leopards.

Christian P., Age 9, Mar Vista

Skateboarding: My favorite sport for outdoors is skateboarding. You can turn in the pool and grind on railings. I like skateboarding because you feel the wind on your face. I like it because it is fun, and you can do it with your friends. That is why I like skateboarding. It is important to make time to play so that you don't get too hyper.

Jessica M., Age 12, Mar Vista

Hide and Seek: My favorite outdoor game is hide and seek. I enjoy playing hide and seek because it is really fun. I think if you play with your friends outside, it would be really fun, and you would get fresh air. When I smell fresh air I feel free and calm. When I have a lot of homework and I am really stressed, I stop what I'm doing and go outside. Another thing I like to do is to text my friends when I'm done with homework, and we can go to the park and play.

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Photo courtesy of Justin Mink

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