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Project Play



Did you know?

  • Since 1980, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for children ages 2 – 5 and more than tripled for children ages 6 – 11.
  • Between 1981 and 1997, free playtime among 6 to 8 year olds dropped 25% and homework more than doubled.
  • Since 2005, the amount of time children and teens ages 8 -18 spend watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet increased from 1 hour, 15 minutes per day to more than 7 and a half hours per day. (That’s more than 53 hours a week and more than most adults spend on their full-time job!)
  • An increased focus on standardized testing has resulted in the reduction or elimination of recess in about 40% of American elementary schools, and in some districts, schools are being built without playgrounds.

What’s a parent, health professional, or child to do?

  • Marlene Byrne, an award-winning children’s author and advocate of unstructured playtime, has come to the rescue with her website and books and games from PROJECT PLAY.  This is just another way to  get kids away from the televisions and video games and into the backyard for exercise.
  • With more than 20 years of experience as an advertising agency owner, spokesperson, and writer, Byrne is using her creative talent to inspire today’s over scheduled, electronic-focused, and dangerously overweight generation of children to get active. With her activities, children’s books, and curriculum, she is teaching children backyard games like she and some of us grew up with. Things like pick up kick the can, backyard baseball and even ghost in the graveyard.

As the founder and author of Project Play, Byrne is not the first to call for more unstructured playtime among children. But while there are countless initiatives to increase children’s activity levels, few of them aim directly at the children.

Play fosters the imagination and sparks creativity. Through a series of lively children’s books, backyard games, a blog, and public readings, we are energizing timeless games for today’s children. Spreading the message about the importance of unstructured play.

As her web site states, Project Play is a movement to inspire kids and their families to make unstructured play a priority. The idea was born when creator Marlene Byrne began writing down the games from her youth for her own children. As a mother of two and working in advertising, she was inspired by the possibility of recreating the games as books after introducing Treasure Hunt to a group of her son’s neighborhood friends.

One of the friends, a boy by the name of Jack, came over one day asking, "What’s the game today?"

Although a simple question, it led to many more as Marlene pondered the fading popularity of traditional backyard games like "kick the can" or "cops and robbers." It was from these humble beginnings that the idea to inspire children in true play was born. Eight years later, with the help of her illustrator Jesse Graber, the idea became a reality in the creation of Project Play and the first published book, Treasure Hunt.

The Project Play series is designed to grow with readers. The early volumes feature hardcover rhyming books designed for new readers with simple games that entertain and inspire. The later volumes feature a chapter-style narrative in paperback with more challenging games for slightly older children.

All the stories are action-packed and feature the Edgebrook gang as they play timeless, backyard games. The books are meant to inspire children to get out and play the way the characters do—by modifying the rules, coming up with new strategies, and supporting one another as they play.

Marlene is driven by her belief that it is equally important to be both creative and smart. With more than 20 years of experience in the advertising industry, she recognizes that the skills learned during playful childhood experiences, especially creativity and negotiation, will be channeled into adulthood. These beliefs are the foundation of Project Play.


I highly suggest to go check out her web site Project Play.  Anything to keep children moving is helpful. Especially if you have kids who are really into the TV and video games. You never know what might get them up and moving!!!! I know I am always making sure the TV is off and we don't even own any video games. I was an obese child so I make sure my kids move. There is no TV in their rooms like I had growing up and we do not even turn the TV on until after dark. If you have children under the age of 16 that are overweight, then it is your job to keep them moving. I still to this day wish my Mom would have done more to keep the sweets out of the house and get me moving more.

Look, kids will do whatever you want them to. If we give them cookies, they will eat them. If we turn the TV on they will watch.  If your children are TV buffs or video game nuts, then it is up to You, the parent, to turn it around. Take a week off from computers and TV's and video games. Turn it all off for just 7 days and see what your imagination can come up with to get off the couch and up and playing. You would be amazed what children will do when you take away the electronics. And don't forget, part of play is YOU getting out there and physically playing with your children too! We homeschool not just for the academics, but for the closeness that it creates in our families. Play is part of that closeness !

Again check out Project Play and see if there are some idea on that site to help you and your children to be more active. So get off that couch or chair and go get 'em tiger!!!! 🙂

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It is an education site after all... *