If you travel for work, why not extend your trip for leisure?

Business + Leisure = Bleisure.

Last year we had 72 million people travel through our Orlando airport, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Many of those travelers were experiencing a happy case of bleisure. Here are some ideas for you in how to spend the leisure part of your bleisure if you are fortunate enough to travel to Orlando, Florida.

Winter Park

If you like to shop, then visit Park Avenue in Winter Park. The main street has over 100 boutiques. The oak trees will offer you plenty of shade as you meander your way to a quaint café for a bite to eat or sip of espresso. Throughout the year there are events that are sure to please you and your family. One of my family favorite events is the WUCF PBS Kids “Be My Neighbor Day” celebrating Mr. Fred Rogers who attended college in this area. 

Vero Beach

Many people who come to Orlando think of theme parks, but just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of the attractions is the Atlantic Ocean. Vero Beach is a great place to unwind after corporate travel. Vero Beach is a welcoming community with sandy beaches, palm trees, and a variety of bird species. If you come at the right time of the year, you might be able to catch a glimpse of loggerhead sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach. Nature tours are a great way to learn more about this unique ecosystem during your bleisure trip.

Vero Beach, Florida

Vero Beach, Florida

Space Coast

While you are at Vero Beach, head north up the road and experience the Space Coast of Florida. The Kennedy Space Center offers many things to see and do. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, cruise ships, beaches, NASA, and rocket launches… oh my. Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin are actively dominating the Space Coast scene.

Space Coast Florida

Space Coast Florida

U-pick Fruit Farm

The subtropical climate in central Florida is a paradise for fruit lovers. Discover citrus groves and pick your own fruit. Find a hydroponic garden and you might not even get dirty when you pick your own fresh fruit. “A Patch of Blue” is an urban hydroponic community farm near Winter Park that grows blueberries to pick during April and May, and strawberries from January to May.

Hydroponic U-pick Farm

Hydroponic U-pick Farm

Downtown Public Library

Since the 1960s, the Orlando Public Library has been located in downtown Orlando. The design of this building was called, "composition in monolithic concrete” by the architect John M. Johansen. The Orlando Public Library is the headquarters for the entire award winning Orange County Library System (OCLS). There are many branch library locations throughout the county. OCLS received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service which is the highest honor possible in America. When you visit this big urban library enjoy exploring all the floors. It wouldn’t be Orlando without a gift shop for you to take home a memorable souvenir before you leave. 

Bleisure is on the rise (Jain, 2018; Easen, 2017; Habtemariam, 2018; Lichy & McLeay, 2018). Wander your way around “City Beautiful” and make some great bleisure memories to last a lifetime. Treat yourself to extra time and play!!!


  1. Easen, N. (2017). Playing away. Buying Business Travel, 85, 28-31.
  2. Habtemariam, D. (2018). More than two-thirds of business travelers embrace bleisure. Business Travel News, 35(5), 6.
  3. Jain, A. (2018). Business, leisure or 'bleisure'?. Hotel Management, 233(6), 26-26.
  4. Lichy, J., & McLeay, F. (2018). Bleisure: Motivations and typologies. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 35(4), 517-530.

Just Add Bubbles

They are easy to make!

They are fun!

They are happy little memory makers!



I am talking about bubbles. It is easy to be in a good mood when bubbles are present! A fun project to do with a child, or group of children, is make homemade bubbles.

In a clean bowl, mix together: water, corn syrup, and liquid Dawn (recipe below). Other liquid detergents could be used for the bubble mix recipe, but I’ve found Dawn makes the best bubbles.

Recycled materials can be used as containers for each child’s individual bubble kit. Children can decorate their containers. Pour the bubble mix into clean containers like plastic bottles or plastic jars (e.g., from yogurt or other food items). Pipe cleaners and/or plastic spoons with holes could be created to dip into the container and into the bubble mix… and then blow.

Watch bubbles float through air.

Watch as children try to catch and pop the bubbles.

Watch your children have fun making memories through the universal language of bubbles.

Bubble Mix Recipe:
6 cups of water
1 cup of corn syrup
2 cups of Dawn liquid


Paper Airplanes

Something as simple as folding a piece of paper can be an adventure. Making and flying paper airplanes can be a fun activity for children and adults. Ms. Marie Tourell Søderberg, a guest on my iTunes show, talked about the benefits of following a child’s lead during play. She gave an example of a child being interested in paper airplanes and spending the afternoon engaged in exploring paper airplanes.


Here are some steps to making a paper airplane if it has been a while since you made one. To make a basic dart paper airplane, start with a piece of paper. Fold the paper in half the long way (hot dog style). Unfold. Next, fold 2 corners into the crease to form a point. Then take the 2 new corners to create a wing by folding it into the same crease. Now fold your plane in half. The last step is to fold the wings.


This easy paper folding activity can be used for artistic expression. Children can design and decorate their paper airplane. It can be used before taking a trip in an actual airplane to talk about what to expect on their trip. Allow children the opportunity to experiment with their airplane. They can send their paper airplane through space. Distance, time, speed, and more can be observed. Flying the paper airplane and doing acrobats allows children to see math and science concepts come to life. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” Let their imagination take flight with this simple paper folding activity.


Communities of Play Innovation

Cities that promote play are at an economic advantage because people want to live, work, spend time and money in positive play environments. A sense of community can be established when families and children are able to play in public locations (Ehrenhalt, 2014). Play deserts occur in places where children have limited play opportunities. Crime, community facilities, and obesity are some of the factors leading to play deserts (Sharaievska, 2014). Location may also hinder opportunities for play. At least four things are needed to create communities of play.

#1) Safety. The basic ingredient for play is that it must be safe. Communities of play are environments where great care has been taken to ensure children are protected from harm. Safe play communities have low or no crime.

#2) Clean and welcoming facilities. Families seeking play communities for their children want clean spaces that are attractive and welcoming. The well-being of children is maximized when there are facilities conducive to play. Clean water, playgrounds, spaces, equipment, toys, and more are needed to attract children and families (Juster & Leichter-Saxby, 2014). 

#3) Access. Play environments must be accessible to people with diverse abilities. In my community, we recently renovated our community playground so that it could be more accessible to children with motor delays and people who use wheelchairs. The results have been more inclusive play for all our children. Such a valuable investment.

Access to play communities that are close to home and work are necessary to making play a priority for families. Schedules are busy and there are many things to do each day which may push opportunities for play to the bottom of the to-do list. Families do not need an extra errand to transport children far away to play.Community planning is necessary for the development and maintenance of play communities. 

#4) Supervision. Children require adult supervision. Parents, grandparents, family members, teachers, parks and rec staff, city employees paid to supervise community activities, and other adults designated to ensure the safety and well-being of children are necessary to play communities. Public spaces for play should be managed by qualified adults trained to properly supervise children.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states in Article 31 that children have the right to: “rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.” Children benefit when they are able to play in safe, clean, accessible, and supervised environments. Childhood is enhanced where there are nurturing and caring communities of play.

"I Spy with My Little Eye" playground.

"I Spy with My Little Eye" playground.



Ehrenhalt, A. a. (2014). Cities, families and places to play. Governing, 27(7), 14-16

Juster, A. H., & Leichter-Saxby, M. (2014). Citizens at play: Children's participation through community-based opportunities for child-directed play. Global Studies Of Childhood, 4(2), 77

Sharaievska, I. (2014). Family leisure and the play desert. Parks & Recreation, 49(8), 36-37.

What's New?

Happy New Year! I hope your new year is off to a great start. In 2018, my colleagues and I will be putting the finishing touches on the new edition of the Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System for Infants and Children (AEPS®).

We have been working on the AEPS®-3 since 2005 and I’m thrilled to see it going into production. Early childhood professionals can benefit from having a measure to assess young children that also links to a curriculum that could be used during play and routines. The AEPS®-3 Family component can be used to create positive and engaging partnerships with parents. Some of the most exciting new things in the AEPS®-3 are the early childhood math and reading areas.

Listen in to my iTunes show to hear a conversation with the pioneer of the AEPS® Dr. Diane Bricker (pictured below) talk about how she got started in our field, early childhood theoretical perspectives based on the work of Skinner and Piaget, and the influences and impact of her work in the area of early childhood assessment. 

If you would like professional development on the new AEPS®-3, start now. You can email me at to begin. Wishing you all the best in 2018!

Left row: Carmen Dionne (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières), Amy Perkins (Brookes Publishing), Naomi Rahn (Wisconsin DOE), Diane Bricker (University of Oregon), that's me in green - Marisa Macy (University of Central Florida), and I-Ching Chen (Kent State University). Right row: Sarah Zerofsky (Brookes Publishing), Misti Waddell (University of Oregon),  Jennifer Grisham-Brown (University of Kentucky),  Joann Johnson (St. Cloud University), and Heather Shrestha (Brookes Publishing)

Left row: Carmen Dionne (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières), Amy Perkins (Brookes Publishing), Naomi Rahn (Wisconsin DOE), Diane Bricker (University of Oregon), that's me in green - Marisa Macy (University of Central Florida), and I-Ching Chen (Kent State University). Right row: Sarah Zerofsky (Brookes Publishing), Misti Waddell (University of Oregon),  Jennifer Grisham-Brown (University of Kentucky),  Joann Johnson (St. Cloud University), and Heather Shrestha (Brookes Publishing)


Below is a PDF of our “Sneak Preview” my co-authors and I presented at a national conference.

Dads and Play

Dads benefit when they play with their children. Researchers studied fathers and found there were no differences in testosterone levels, but there was a decrease in cortisol and prolactin in fathers after just a half hour of playing with their children. This study suggests fathers experience hormonal responses when playing with their children (Gettler et al., 2011). Playing with children can decrease stress, be lots of fun, and create wonderful memories. 

Play is good for Dads!

My playspiration is my Dad! When he plays with children in our family, my Dad is totally engaged and present in the moment. His granddaughter reminded me that the last time Nonno was at our house they played hide-n-seek for “lots of hours.” True! It was probably about two hours without a break. 

My Dad believes play is important. Places to play are important too. When I was little my Dad built me a playhouse in our backyard. After putting in a full day’s work, he would come home and work on the playhouse until everyone went to sleep.

The Playhouse Nonno Built 

The Playhouse Nonno Built 

Thank you for being my Dad! Also, thank you for making PLAY an important part of our life together. I love you, Dad! 

Happy Father's Day to all Dads this Sunday. 


Source: Gettler, L. T., McDade, T. W., Agustin, S. S., & Kuzawa, C. W. (2011). Short-term changes in fathers' hormones during father–child play: Impacts of paternal attitudes and experience. Hormones & Behavior, 60, 599-606.

Dapper Days

Playing dress up is an activity many children enjoy. Early childhood programs often include a socio-dramatic play area or center in America. On a recent trip to Disney World I saw people of all ages engaging in the fun of dress up on "Dapper Day." Twice a year guests arrive at the Disney gates dressed to the nines. How fun to see that some "grown-ups" have not outgrown this playful part of childhood. 

Horse Play

“Giddy up!” Kids have a field day at events that are novel for them. Getting out of the routine to do something different gives children unique experiences to talk about, as well as exposure to new concepts to expand their understanding about the world around them. New vocabulary and language opportunities are included.

The Future Farmers of America (FFA) organized an outdoor event for children in my area. It was a rodeo. No experience required! Children got to participate in activities like races with wooden stick horses. Navigating around barrels and other obstacles with their horse was a fun way for children to problem solve, get exercise, and breathe fresh air. Opportunities for social development occurred during horse play with peers.  

National FFA week is Feb. 20-27, 2016. Check out your local FFA chapter to find fun activities you and your family might enjoy. No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill

Children's FFA Rodeo

Children's FFA Rodeo


I first noticed my daughter hitting her Pile-ology milestone at 30 months of age when one day she removed all the toys from a toy box to create a pile on the bedroom floor. She studied her pile. She touched her pile. She smiled at her pile. 

Then she grabbed as many things from her pile as would fit in her tiny arms and moved her toys from her bedroom to the living room where she continued to marvel at the pile she created. 

Starting around two years, toddlers begin doing something I call: Pile-ology.  During play, the child experiments with size and quantity concepts. Pile-ology is the study of piles. Children gather quantities of items, with diverse shapes and sizes, from one location and transfer them to study in another location.

This type of play does not seem to be practice for a future career at Mayflower or Graebel Van Lines - as far as I can tell. The Swiss theorist, Dr. Jean Piaget, studied his own children. I can imagine Dr. Piaget sitting in a sandbox with a clipboard, observing his children at play, and recording every movement. The Piagets must have had amazing scrapbooks and family records. I'll bet he was able to answer questions like, "Dad, how old was I when I first used a pincer grasp, said my first word, started pulling to stand, or making piles?"

If you happen to notice your child engaging in Pile-ology the next time he or she is at play… no need to panic or call hoarders anonymous. Pile-ology is a typical milestone. Your little scientist is trying to make sense of this marvelous world we live in.


“Waiting is the hardest part,” sings Tom Petty. True! Waiting can be challenging. It is not easy to wait for something to happen. Or wait for someone.

Although it can be difficult for children to learn how to wait, waiting is not necessarily a bad thing for children. Waiting can help a young child learn patience and self-control. These are important building blocks for developing social emotional competency.

Waiting for my turn at the wheel at Monsters Inc. Playground at Disney's Flower & Garden Festival

Waiting for my turn at the wheel at Monsters Inc. Playground at Disney's Flower & Garden Festival

Too much waiting, however, could have negative outcomes for young children. I was talking with a colleague about high/low quality early childhood programs. She said an interesting thing that I’m still thinking about four months later...children who are left waiting too long for routines and events are disadvantaged.

High quality early childhood programs are places where children are engaged, and minimal time is spent during a child’s day waiting. When a child has to wait too long, they are often taken from engaged play or meaningful learning opportunities. A useful question to ask is: How much waiting is too much? For each child it might be different. Issues to consider are: the child’s age, developmental status, environment, and routines.

All children need a safe and healthy environment to grow. Patch Adams M.D., said, “waiting in line is a great opportunity to meet people, daydream, or play.” Some waiting is fine… and can even be valuable for children. However, notice how long kids are having to wait during their day. More play and less waiting is ideal.

A Play

We went to see Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe which was first produced at the Opera Comique in London in 1882. It was my child’s first play. The children’s theatre company sang, danced, and acted in such a way that maintained my toddler’s attention for over two hours. On the drive home, we talked about our favorite things in the play. My favorite part was the music by Sir Arthur Sullivan. In particular, was a song entitled, “When I Went to the Bar” sung by Lord Chancellor who is one of the main characters. He is having a conversation with himself and the chorus repeats “said I to myself- said I.”

My toddler said the people were her favorite part of the play. The actors and actresses had beautiful singing voices, colorful costumes, and had interesting words and movements. The fairies in Iolanthe wore colorful wings that were similar to the ones my daughter wore to the play

When we were done saying our favorite things, it got quiet in the back seat. At first I thought she fell asleep since it was past her nap time. Then I heard it. A question that Sir Lord Google was unable to help me with at that moment. “Mommy, why do we call it a play?” Hmm. Why is a live, stage performance referred to as a play?     

Maybe it is because the places a play can take you… Said I to myself – said I! Like a roller coaster ride, a play has twists and turns. A play can take you to exciting locations through staging, costume, and story without ever leaving your seat. When we play, we use our imagination and can transport ourselves similarly.

Maybe it is because the audience attending the play is experiencing a collective leisure activity... Said I to myself – said I! Doing something with others can bring us happiness. We need each other. Play is enjoyable when we have others around to join in the fun. It does not have to be engaged play with another person, but parallel play is where we can sit beside and enjoy the other person’s company.

Maybe it is because the creative expression required to produce a play … Said I to myself – said I! Dressing up in costumes, pretending to be something you are not, trying out different roles, and using language in experimental ways are things children do when they play. A live stage production is not all that different than watching a young child play.

Whatever the reason we call it a “play”, a really good one does feel the same as play. There is nothing better than getting lost in play! (Said I to myself – said I)



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