Anji Play World Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 1, Winter/Spring 2018
A New Year Begins: The Year of the Dog
The lunar new year is off to a busy start for the Anji Play team. Ms. Cheng, Yuan Qing (Anji Child Education Research Center), Principals Qian Min of Zimei Kindergarten and Sheng Yi of Jiguan Kindergarten and Jesse Coffino (AnjiPlay World) traveled to Savar, Bangladesh where they presented on the history of Anji Play, the principles of Anji Play material and environmental design, the contours of the Anji Play learning ecology and the progress of efforts to scale the Anji Play Approach globally.
Together we presented as part of the two-day Play Summit 2018, co-hosted by BRAC IED and the Anji Child Education Research Center. We had a chance to engage in deep dialogue with colleagues from BRAC, the Aga Khan Foundation, Plan International, the LEGO Foundation and the Ministries of Education of Bangladesh and Uganda, among many other colleagues from a wide range of organizations.
Ms. Cheng also traveled to Billund, Denmark as an invited guest at The LEGO Idea Conference 2018, where she spent time with old friends from MIT Media Lab, Cambridge University, The Exploratorium, Ryerson University and Aarhus University learning about their work and making many new friends.
Ms. Cheng will travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 19th to spend time with researchers at the Lifelong Kindergarten Group (MIT Media Lab) and address the Chinese Education Symposium at Harvard Graduate School of Education, including remarks as part of the early education panel, and a 90 minute deep-dive presentation on Anji Play.
Jesse delivered a talk at Google Headquarters on February 9th entitled True Play, the Complex Mind of the Child, and the Future of Education: an American Parent’s View of Anji Play. The talk provides an in-depth introduction to Anji Play. It can be viewed here and a transcript is also available here. We have also introduced a new resource for parents and teachers alike who want to learn more about what Anji Play is and why it is so important for children to have access to authentic experiences of True Play: www.anjiplay.com/parents
Dates for Study Tours to Anji in 2018-2019 are now open for registration. Please contact us with any questions about visiting Anji or inquiries about group rates:
Summer 2018: 06/02-06/10
Fall 2018: 10/27-11/04
Winter 2019: 01/05-01/13
Spring 2019: 03/30-04/07
Summer 2019: 06/01-06/09
Fall 2019: 10/12-10/20
We will soon announce a series of regular drop-in discussion sessions and online parent workshops, stay-tuned for an email announcement and check www.anjiplay.com/connect for updates, dates and how to register/join.
Ms. Cheng California Visit
Ms. Cheng will visit California in May. In addition to delivering the keynote lecture at the annual Early Education STEM Institute hosted by the Region 9 Head Start Association in Los Angeles, Ms. Cheng will also provide institute participants with an opportunity to engage in hands-on play with Anji Play materials specially shipped to Los Angeles for the Institute. More info here.
In addition to visits to our Bay Area pilot sites, other events are being planned. Follow us on Facebook for timely updates.
"The reason that Anji Play works, its DNA, the reason it's different from a top-down model of defining outcomes that every kid should have, is because it's a grassroots ecology that is based on respect for the child, for the family, and for the teacher."
True Play, The Complex Mind of the Child and the Future of Education
Anji Play World Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 2, Fall 2017
Summer and Fall Semester in Review
This summer and fall were busy for Ms. Cheng and the Anji Play teams in the U.S. and China. We are grateful to our friends and pilot partners at Sierra College, Contra Costa College and Wu Yee Children’s Services for hosting Ms. Cheng during her visit to California in August. It was a unique opportunity for Ms. Cheng to spend time with teachers and children in the Bay Area and the Sierra Foothills and connect with friends from Hacker Lab, CAAEYC and Region 9 Head Start Association. Ms. Cheng was also able to share her revolutionary approach to design with an engaged community of makers in the Sacramento area, a talk that was live-streamed in China and viewed by over 50,000 educators there.
In China, the True Play revolution continues to grow and drive local, provincial and national change. In addition to the Anji Play approach expanding to every kindergarten in Huzhou Municipality, home to 80,000 children ages 3-6, it will also be the focus of piloting efforts in each of Zhejiang Province’s 90 counties, with one pilot kindergarten in each county to be selected through a rigorous review process. There are approximately 2.5 million children ages 3-6 in Zhejiang Province. This plan for province-wide adoption was announced on November 1 by Wang Zhenbin, Director of the Office of Early Education, Zhejiang Province Department of Education, at an event in Anji where Dr. Chelsea Bailey addressed educational leaders from Zhejiang Province about the global importance of Anji Play. Two weeks later, representatives of UNICEF and the Ministry of Education convened a meeting of educators in Anji to address the question of increasing the quality of early education through a study of the Anji early education ecology.
In October, we were joined in Anji during our third Study Tour by a deeply engaged group of global educators. In addition to representatives from our pilot partners--Carissa Christner from Madison Public Library, Mary Anne Kreshka and Nicole Asbridge from Sierra College and Michele Naidoo from Contra Costa College--we were also joined by educators from Uganda, Tanzania and Bangladesh, renowned play therapist Larry Cohen, and innovative educators from Madison, WI. Please check out our Facebook page www.facebook.com/anjiplayworld to see updates from each day of our amazing seven day experience at ten diverse schools.
We were deeply saddened to have lost Dr. Intisar Shareef, Co-Chair Department of Early Childhood Education, Contra Costa College. Dr. Shareef was a tireless advocate for equity in early education, a revolutionary, a leader, a visionary, a teacher, a mother, a grandmother and a friend. She will be dearly missed by all of those whom she touched in her work and life, and, in particular, by Ms. Cheng and the educators and children of Anji. We can strive to honor her legacy each day in our work by creating conditions of love, joy and respect in the lives of the children and teachers in our communities. We were lucky to have Dr. Shareef visit Anji last spring. We encourage you to learn more about her life and legacy here:
We are excited to offer two more Study Tour opportunities during the 2017-2018 school year: April 7-15, 2018 and June 2-10, 2018.
Register here soon to ensure significant savings: www.anjiplay.com/engage
We have also hosted several successful free webinars introducing the Anji Play approach, providing in-depth information about visiting Anji and most recently discussing the process of piloting the Anji Play approach.
The last webinar of the year will be held on December 19th at 6:00PM Pacific Time and focus on piloting the Anji Play approach in your community. You can register here and check back for updates about future webinars: www.anjiplay.com/connect
"The principles and practices of Anji Play are suited to all children, regardless of their age, and True Play is the right of every child. Every child of every age needs our full trust and needs us, as adults, to step back. And it is not only children in play who require love, risk, joy, engagement and reflection, but as adults, our work and our learning should also manifest these five core principles."
-Ms. Cheng Xueqin
“I have seen the future of early childhood education and it is Anji Play. At least it ought to be the future. Phenomenal learning takes place there—cognitive, social, emotional, creative, scientific—because pressure and conflict have been replaced by love and support. We have known a long time that children learn best when they are fully engaged with their teachers, their peers, and their environment. They learn best when they feel joy rather than fear or boredom All of these things are evident in every aspect of Anji Play, all day long, to a degree I have not seen anywhere else.”
--Dr. Larry Cohen, author Playful Parenting
Anji Play World Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 1, Summer 2017
School Year in Review
2016-2017 was a busy school year for Ms. Cheng and her teachers in Anji and for our team here in the United States, a year full of exciting developments, new friendships and new and expanding pilot programs. As more and more educators learn about Anji Play and as more children benefit from growing recognition of the importance of risk and self-determination in play, we are inspired to see the core principles of Anji Play--love, risk, joy, engagement and reflection--taking root in the global pedagogical discourse.
Last October we hosted the first Anji Play Study Tour with an engaged group educators from the United States, Singapore and China. In addition to a week spent visiting eight Anji kindergartens, we had extraordinary access to Ms. Cheng, her teachers, principals and took part in high-level dialogue with a visiting group of educational leaders from across China. Mary Anne Kreshka (Sierra College, CA) and Dr. Annie White (CSU Channel Islands) returned from their trip to begin work on a unique pilot program at Sierra College Child Development Center (more in Pilots and Events below).
In December, we welcomed a group from the PlayFutures foundation. PlayFutures members including Carla Rinaldi from Reggio Emilia, Dr. Jack Shonkoff from Harvard and Bertha Magoge leader of the innovative South African NGO Training and Resources in Early Education spent two days visiting schools and meeting with children and teachers.
In April, our second Study Tour included participants from nine countries. In response to feedback from our first Study Tour, the second iteration included an entire day at Jiguan Kindergarten and more meetings and conversations with Anji parents. Our group included educators from colleges and universities in the United States and Australia, and representatives of the globally influential NGO BRAC from Bangladesh and Tanzania. Dr. Intisar Shareef and Sandra Moore, Chairs of the Department of Early Childhood Education at Contra Costa College, CA returned from their trip to begin work on a unique pilot program at the Contra Costa College Early Learning Center (more in Pilots and Events below).
The impact of Anji Play and the True Play revolution continues grow in China, where, at the end of May, the Ministry of Education kicked off a month-long, national initiative to promote self-determined, True Play in all public and private early education programs. The kick-off began with a national-level conference in Anji, an Anji Play exhibition and a renewed commitment from the Ministry of Education to include the principles, practices and materials developed by Ms. Cheng in national educational guidelines.
In June, the China National Society for Early Childhood Education hosted a two day "Research Institute on the Anji Play Pedagogical Model" in Anji County. Dr. Peter Mangione (WestEd), Prof. Cas Holman (RISD) and scholar of curriculum theory and design Dr. Chelsea Bailey shared their global view of Anji Play with 850 educators from across China, speaking alongside Ms. Cheng, Prof. Hua Aihua (East China Normal University), Prof. Liao Liying (Beijing Normal University), Ms. Zhang Jie (Principal Anji Experimental Kindergarten) and Ms. Sheng Yi (Principal Anji Jiguan Kindergarten).
In July, Krystina Tapia joined the Anji Play team as Global Teaching Lead. Ms. Tapia, a graduate of UCLA and Teachers College, Columbia University, joined the first Study Tour in October and volunteered as a guide during our second Study Tour in April. She will spend the fall in Anji working in a 3s classroom, gaining important insight into the process of introducing Anji Play to children as they first begin their experience of the three year, full-time Anji Play kindergarten curriculum. We are eager for Ms. Tapia to develop models for working with teachers and educators globally focused on the Anji Play approach.
We are pleased to offer open enrollment for three upcoming 7-day, 8-night all-inclusive Study Tours: October, 2017 and January and June, 2018.
Discounted early-bird registration for the October 14-22, 2017 Study Tour has been extended to August 15. Register now to enjoy a significant discount.
More information and registration here www.anjiplay.com/visit
We have also begun to offer a series of introductory webinars that have drawn hundreds of deeply engaged participants. In the coming months, we will expand these opportunities to include more in-depth introductions to the principles and practices of Anji Play, specialized sessions for pilot programs and specific practice areas (including library programming, parenting and community organizations) and topics like environmental design and material selection. Please check out our website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds for timely announcements of dates, times and registration details for these webinars.
Anji Play Global Pilot Programs
One City Early Education Centers in Madison, Wisconsin, a not-for-profit organization providing full-time ECE for Madison’s critically underserved kids and families, has reached full-enrollment and their lead teachers Carol Spoehr and Bryce Pickett joined us in Anji this April to deepen their knowledge of the approach. http://www.onecityearlylearning.org
Madison Public Libraries has expanded its Wild Rumpus! Anji Play summer programming from once a week (last summer) to twice a week (this summer) in two separate public park locations. Led by children’s services librarian Carissa Christner, the summer programming will add a dedicated trailer to transport an expanded inventory of Anji Play materials currently being shipped from China and manufactured locally in Madison. Wild Rumpus! will continue this fall with a new space that included both ample indoor and outdoor space. With the efforts of Carissa and the Madison Public Library, neither snow nor rain nor heat will keep the children of Madison from accessing the joys of True Play! Follow Carissa’s in-depth reflections and updates on her programming here: http://librarymakers.blogspot.com
Sierra College Child Development Center (CDC), a lab school supported by Early Head Start and the State of California, has begun a close collaboration to implement Anji Play practices in their curriculum, including Play Sharing, Play Stories and the creation of Anji Play materials by the local community through Sierra College’s partnership with Hacker Lab in Rocklin, CA. Mary Anne Kreshka, who, along with CDC director Morgan Best, has played a critical role in spearheading the initiative, was a participant in our first Study Tour and returned home dedicated to sharing the work of Ms. Cheng with her community. We are also grateful to the work of Darlene Jackson, Assistant Dean of Business and Technology for her support and dedication to this pilot program. http://nevco.org/programs-services/child-development/
Contra Costa College Early Learning Center, a laboratory program of the Contra Costa College Department of Early Childhood Education, which serves families in the community, as well as those of college faculty, staff and students, will begin an in-depth Anji Play pilot program beginning this fall that will include updated environmental design, Anji Play materials and work with the Department of Early Childhood Education on professional development, observation and the teacher and community practices of Anji Play. Department Chairs Shareef and Moore returned from a visit to Anji in April, 2017 to lead this collaborative exchange between the Early Learning Center, the Department of Early Childhood Education and Anji, China. http://www.contracosta.edu/student-services/early-learning-center/
Expanded pilot programs in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa are currently taking shape, and we will include updates in our upcoming newsletter, on our website and through social media. If your organization has a deep commitment to the principles of True Play and a sincere interest in beginning a conversation about piloting the Anji Play approach, we hope you will reach out to us here and provide more information about your interest here www.anjiplay.com/join
Ms. Cheng will visit California from August 5-20, in addition to meetings with key institutional partners, we are excited to co-host two important public events.
August 11, 1:00-3:30 PM
“Contra Costa College: An Introduction to Anji Play”
Contra Costa College, 2600 Mission Bell Drive, San Pablo, CA, GE Building, Room 225
Ms. Cheng and Dr. Bailey will provide an in-depth introduction to the Anji Play approach with time for audience Q&A.
Free and Open to the Public
Eventbrite Link: goo.gl/Zky9Pc
August 15, 6:00-8:00 PM
“Doing/Seeing/Thinking/Making: The Anji Play Ecology”
Hacker Lab Powered by Sierra College, 4415 Granite Drive, #200, Rocklin, CA
Ms. Cheng and Dr. Bailey will provide an in-depth introduction to the larger Anji Play ecology and the connection between ecologies of True Play and the maker movement with time for audience Q&A.
Free and Open to the Public
Eventbrite Link: goo.gl/JmfJBz
September 12, 12:00-1:00 PM
“The Anji Play Ecology”
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA
Dr. Bailey and Jesse Coffino will address members of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory community about the history and development of the Anji Play ecology with an emphasis on the role of communities and parents.
Open to Laboratory employees only.
September 23, 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
“Painting the Future - Building Community in Early Care & Education Conference”
Pacific Oaks College, 1 West Campbell Avenue, Campbell, CA
Dr. Bailey’s keynote address “True Play and the Recovery of Joy in Early Education" will address the central role of self-determined play, love, risk, joy, engagement and reflection in creating efficacy in ecologies of learning and communities of practice.
Conference Fee Required
Eventbrite Link: goo.gl/Syw4pe
This fall will see the publication of the first foundational book on the Anji Play approach with essays by Dr. Chelsea Bailey and Anji Play advisory board members Drs. Peter Mangione and Julie Nicholson, as well as insight and analysis from acclaimed Chinese scholars. While the book will initially appear in Chinese, we are planning for English-language publication, and hope to preview the book for our friends by sharing the essays of Drs. Bailey, Mangione and Nicholson in the coming months as we work on translating the essays that will appear in original Chinese.
We are actively working to create the first prototype for an Anji Play app. The app will allow teachers, administrators and parents to share in the processes of documentation and sharing. The app will be robust with multiple functions to support ecologies of True Play. Importantly, it will allow for educators, children and families to connect across regional, cultural and class divides, and share their experiences, observations and insights and develop a common language of True Play.
We continue to update our website, including the recent addition of a critical bibliography covering topics like risk, cause-and-effect hypothesis and literacy. Future updates will include FAQs about piloting, translated interviews with Ms. Cheng, Anji Play research and expanded opportunities for dialogue and engagement.
Your feedback is incredibly valuable to us, so please never hesitate to let us know what you would like to see more of, want us to add or change.
We continue to add more resources at www.anjiplay.com
Please take a moment to visit our growing bibliography of play research: http://www.anjiplay.com/rights
Read about the Rights and Responsibilities of True Play:
And please check our social media feeds for updated resources.
When your goal is to convince someone to take an action, to change their stance or to change their community, you must first allow them to identify your ideals within their own experience. "Play Memory" is an incredibly valuable tool developed by Ms. Cheng that achieves just this end. As Ms. Cheng saw that her attempts to bring joyous play to the 130 public kindergartens under her supervision had resulted in "false play," children playing according to the expectation of their teachers, she asked herself and her teachers to reflect on their deepest memories of play as children.
Through this practice she began to identify common themes: outdoor play, risky play, play with large, minimally structured materials, play that took place over extensive periods of time without constant adult intervention. Her developing approach, and the environments and materials of Anji Play, were informed by these individual and collective memories.
When parents objected to the risky, self-determined play taking place in their children's schools, she asked these same parents to recall their deepest memories of play as children. In response to their joyous and wistful recollections, the natural next question became, "Don't you want your children to have these same experiences, these deeply ingrained memories that you carry with you to this day?"
If you are a teacher, a parent, an administrator, take a moment to ask yourself this same question, "What is my deepest memory of play as a child?" Then ask someone you know, a colleague, another parent, your dentist or mail carrier. Start expanding your circle of true play allies.
Change starts with conversation. Change starts with shared experience and common dreams.
Share your play memories with us at www.facebook.com/anjiplayworld or www.twitter.com/anjiplay and use the hashtag #playmemory
“True Play in Anji’s kindergartens opens the door to important new insights into the full potential of play in young children’s lives. In Anji, children freely create, take on challenges, and solve problems together. In their self-determined play, children express joy and love as they learn, reflecting the ever-present respect and confidence of their teachers. Anji Play represents an extraordinary opportunity for early educators worldwide to deepen their understanding of children's play.”
— Dr. Peter Mangione, Co-Director, WestEd Center for Child & Family Studies and the Program for Infant/Toddler Care