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Big Body Play: Why Boisterous, Vigorous, and Very Physical Play is Essential to Children's Development and Learning

by Frances M. Carlson
ITEM #: 4130575

"Big body play" " the sometimes rowdy, always very physical running, rolling, climbing, tagging, jumping, grabbing, and wrestling that most children love and many adults try to shut down " can and should be an integral part of every early childhood setting. Drawing from evidence-based practice and the latest research, this book explains the multitude of benefits of big body play for young children's social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development. You will also learn how to organize the physical environment, set rules and policies, and supervise the play.

"Everyone benefits when big body play is accepted as developmental and is supervised by knowledgeable adults. Big Body Play is a wonderful resource, a straightforward guide to assist teachers in understanding and promoting rough-and-tumble play. Such play is one of the first steps children take in development of the physical skills they will need to be physically active throughout life."

Stephen Sanders, author of Active for Life: Developmentally Appropriate Movement Programs for Young Children

How I Came to Write This Book . . . and Why it is Needed

Chapter 1: What is “Big Body Play”?

  • Types of big body play
  • Why big body play is essential
  • Continuum of young children’s physical development
  • Reservations and misunderstandings about big body play
  • The myth that rough-and-tumble play is aggression

Chapter 2: Benefits of Play, and Big Body Play in Particular

  • What kind and how much physical activity?
  • Evolution and brain development
  • Growing and moving
  • Feeling and interacting
  • Communicating
  • Thinking

Chapter 3: Strategies for Implementing Big Body Play

  • Managing risk
  • Establishing policies for safe, effective big body play
  • Setting up the environment
  • Less (play equipment) is more (big body play)
  • Supporting big body play
  • Communicating and collaborating with families
  • Frequently asked questions about big body play


  • Turning Finger Plays into Big Body Games
  • Sample Handbook Policies for Big Body Play
  • Training Staff on Rough-and-Tumble Play
  • Letter for Families
  • Sample Documentation Panel


ISBN: 978-1-928896-71-5