Adventure, Play, Peace: Insights and Activities for Social-Emotional Learning and Community Building With Young Children

ISBN: 978-1-885473-66-0
SIZE: 6 x 9
PRICE $27.95

Play is a natural way for children to learn and have fun. When playing with children or supporting them in free play, there are opportunities for parents, teachers, and caregivers to teach peacemaking skills. The basic concepts and creative activities presented here focus on how children play by incorporating the peacemaking skills of empathy, conflict resolution, trust and refection.  This is the foundation of a compassionate community.

So, how do play and peace go together?
How do you make a play experience turn into a peacemaking lesson?
How does a child learn compassion and kindness in the midst of fun and games?
How can play possibly be a way to teach a child to express his or her feelings?

While we play, in the midst of the experience, there will be opportunities to teach peacemaking skills.  Those teachable moments can be considered peacemaking opportunities. You may start with an agenda for play; however, you might veer away from that plan when the children bring their own dynamics to the game. Peacemaking and compassion work are more important than the games. How you play matters more than what you play (safety concerns aside). The games are the means to learning skills for life. The games are the avenue to the expression of creativity. If you are going to play with children or support them in their free play, the concepts in this book can be the foundation on which you can build a compassionate community. The specifics of the games are secondary to these concepts. In a sense, you will have two bags of tricks: the concepts in one bag and the games in the other.


“When I first saw the title Adventure, Play, Peace, my reaction was that, of course, adventure and play were a natural fit. But peace? Then I began reading and the light bulb came on over my head! If we focus on how children play, as opposed to what they play, we absolutely can promote peace, compassion, trust, and a sense of community! Nancy MacPhee Bower’s lovely and practical book is a must-have for any early childhood professional or parent interested in helping children learn and grow through what they love best: play.”
—Rae Pica, Children’s Physical Activity Specialist, Founder/Director of Moving & Learning, author of Moving & Learning Series: Preschoolers and Kindergartners and Wiggle, Giggle and Shake: 200 Ways to Move and Learn

“This is the kind of book educators and parents could pick up and put to use in an hour… and then read over and over again to gain the full benefit. Nancy MacPhee Bower does an inspiring job of describing in fresh, easy-to-understand terms the skills and concepts children (and adults) can learn to bring more peace into their lives and communities. These simple-to-set-up, simple-to-play games are likely to work well for, and delight, any group of young children.”
—Leslie Roffman, author of Including One, Including All: A Relationship-Based Guide to Early Childhood Inclusion

“We have been anxiously waiting for Nancy Bower’s second book. Incorporating peace with play and adventure is a powerful and timely idea. Nancy gives practical advice and makes the big idea of peace tangible in activities for children of all ages. The lesson plans are easy to follow and offer a variety of ways to play each game, encouraging creativity from the participants. We have used the games with our teachers for team building and staff development. Nancy’s work encourages children and adults to accept and appreciate each other with peace as the goal.”
—Michelle Vogel, Owner and Director of The Winfield Children’s House, Falmouth, ME

“Reading this book helped me realize that a safe environment for my students begins with creating and understanding peace. I appreciated the way Nancy Bower focused on peace but did not stray away from the idea that not all classrooms are going to be peaceful and diligent. The section on dealing with disruptive behavior was especially helpful. And what a great idea to add ‘how to be safe while playing this game’ into the curriculum!
“Overall I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone working within this age group. This book not only helps bring strong themes of peace and community but also provides fifty-plus games with a organized curriculum that provides all the right elements to carry out Adventure, Play, and Peace in the classroom.”
—Liz Brown, CYO Athletics Physical Education Manager, San Francisco, CA

“Because of Nancy’s contributions to Adventure Play and adventure learning, the field continues to develop a deeper awareness that this methodology is applicable in a fundamental way to young children. Play when combined with reflection adds to an evolving peaceable community.”
—Mark Murray, Elementary School Counselor, K-5 Elementary School, Gloucester, MA

Excerpt from the Book


In this book, facilitated play is the starting place. Our ideal is that children have opportunities to play freely, without a facilitator, unencumbered by an adult’s agenda, and uninterrupted by schedules. Children often live in highly structured and over-scheduled worlds. When this is the case, can we add more free play? Can we reduce children’s time spent in structured activities? Knowing that Adventure Play is primarily play that is facilitated by adults, I sometimes fear that it might be part of the problem and not part of the solution. However, my hope is that Adventure Play will be a laboratory that offers children wisdom about life skills and provides opportunities to practice these life skills. With more social skills in their back pocket, children may feel more inclined to use these in their free playtime. This tension between free play and facilitated play is a constant voice in my ear.

In Adventure Play class, we have a captive audience and we create a space to play. We value play. The children are invited to join in and play or they can choose to observe. Observation is a perfectly valid way to participate. In the course of play or observation, the creative spark of each child will be ignited. Children are innovative and will take an idea to new and unexpected places. When children’s imaginations show up during play, pay attention. Give imagination room to grow. To do so is to seize an opportunity to keep the children in the lead.

Letting go of my agenda is always in the forefront of my play experiences with children. I want their play, their imaginations, and their interactions with each other to take off on their own wings. As parents, caregivers and educators, our role is to invite play into the moment. Our role is to guide children into working out conflicts with kindness and compassion. They will eventually use these tools on their own, outside the Adventure Play laboratory.

Table of Contents


The Power of Play
Adventure Play Basics
Components of Peacemaking Work
More Play
Real Experiences Bring Growth and Change
Social and Emotional Learning
Reduction and Removal of Free Play Time
More Peace
Peacemaking Opportunities
Shaping a Compassionate Community
Being Playful
Trust and Challenge
Lighthearted Involvement
More Free Play

More Important Than the Games
How You Play Is More Important Than What You Play
Be Gentle, Be Kind, Be Safe
Coming “Back to Peace”
Embrace the Muck
Friends Argue, Good Friends Work It Out
Are You Okay?
Buddy Games
Use Your Strong Voice/Use Your Assertive Voice
Make a Decision
Honoring the Child’s Goodness
Dealing with Disruptive Behavior
Keeping the Good Energy Safe
Personal Practice

Nuts and Bolts of Adventure Play
The Language of Adventure Play
Adventure Play Prop Ideas
Adventure Play Program: Sample Lesson Structure
Sample Program for Various Ages
Sample Program for Toddlers
Getting Started
Make a Plan
Acknowledge Obstacles
Valuing Play
Find a Playful, Compassionate Co-leader
Keep It Simple
Wear Your Play Clothes
Index Cards
Home Spots
The Way To Be Safe Is…
Playground and Play Space Ground Rules
The Rule Becomes a Game
Speed of Movement
Staying With the Group
I Just Want to Watch…

Games and Activities
1, 2, 3 Adventure Play!
5 Step Circle
All the Children Went to Sleep
Back and Forth
Balloon Blow Up
Bears Are Sleeping
Big Turtle
Bucket of Balls
Can You?
Cat and Mouse
Chaotic Juggle
Create a Game
Dice Warm Up
Friends in the Fog
Front, Back, Side, Side
Group Loop
Help Me, Please
Human Memory Game
Jog Switch
Jumping Beans
Motor Boat, Motor Boat
Mountain, Mountain, Volcano
Over the Rivers
Parachute Ride for a Friend
Pickles, Pears, Peaches
Pigs Fly
Rainbow Stretch
Rocket Ship
Roll It
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Runaway Tarp
Saving the Black Robin
Sleepy Snakes
Squirrels in the Trees
Stepping Stones
Sticky Buddies
Throw and Go (Kick and Go)
Tight Rope Walking
Touch 4, 5, 6
Touch, Look and Go
Trash Balls
Trust Circle
Walk the Puppy
Wiggly Worm

Reflection and Getting to Know Each Other
Getting to Know Each Other
The Totem
What Do You Love?
Heart and Soul

Activities for Reflection and Getting to Know Each Other
Feelings Cards
Feelings Charades
Stones Processing
Talking Stick
Treasure Chest/Chiji Cards/Postcards

Quick Reference Games List
About the Author
Wood 'N' Barnes: | 2309 North Willow, Suite A | Bethany, Oklahoma 73008 | Copyright © 2011, All Rights Reserved