What does Play is Beautiful mean? We reviewed over 800 photo contest entries to find out

Benefits of Play  |  4 years ago

What does Play is Beautiful mean? We reviewed over 800 photo contest entries to find out

CedarWorks’ tagline is “Play is Beautiful.” We believe in it so strongly that we have trademarked the phrase. We say play is beautiful because our playsets and playhouses are beautifully designed and beautiful to look at, but there’s more to it than that.

Play is beautiful for children because unstructured, active play is so important to their social, emotional, and motor development (see “The Hard Work of Play” for more on how play benefits early childhood development). Beyond that, as any parent can attest, children at play are inherently beautiful - silly, messy, and hilarious, but beautiful.

When we launched a photo contest on social media in August, we asked parents to send us photos that capture their kids in a “Play is Beautiful” moment. We felt pretty confident that we would see a lot of great photos, but we were also interested to see how exactly people would interpret “Play is Beautiful,” and we made a point not to give any kind of guidance on what they should photograph beyond asking that it be a photo of “your kids at play this summer.”

We got over 800 entries on our various social media channels which we were pretty psyched about (of course offering one of our playsets as the prize may have had something to do with the great response!), so we feel like we got a pretty good idea of what Play is Beautiful means to all kinds of families.

First, for all we worry about kids spending too much time inside and on screens, parents really do appreciate getting their kids outside to play. Almost all of the entries were of kids enjoying being outside, doing a variety of activities. We weren’t too surprised to get a lot of photos of kids on playsets and swingsets whether at a playground or at home, sometimes even on a CedarWorks playset or playhouse. We had pictures of kids on slides, kids on climbing ramps, and kids on swings (including one of a child fast asleep in a toddler swing which might stretch the definition of active play, but it was still pretty cute).

Beyond that we saw some common themes. Also not too surprisingly, playing in water was huge. From wading at oceanside beaches to fishing on a lake to splashing in a sprinkler, the recipe is obvious: take kids, add water and mix to get hours of happy play. Playing in the dirt was not quite as popular as water, but it had an impressive amount of entries with kids playing in dirt piles, mud puddles, and sand boxes. A small but surprising subset of playing in the dirt was playing in...corn? We didn’t even know this was a thing until we received multiple photos of kids playing in what were basically sandboxes filled with dried corn. We are not in an area particularly known for corn, so maybe we are just out of the loop.

Other photos we got included jumping, dancing, bubbles, kite flying, bike riding and more, but the common theme throughout was laughter and smiles. Maybe that’s why play is so beautiful, what could be more beautiful than a happy child?

Congratulations to our Play is Beautiful Photo Contest winner Hillary Crossman Pennell for her photo of her sons splashing in a mud puddle (shown above).