The 4 Pillars of Play

CreativeBrainWhen I worked at Cranium, I learned a lot about Dr. Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory.

It stressed that there are multiple ways to be “smart,” beyond standardized tests for verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematic skills. Gardner demonstrated that humans actually have eight intelligences:

  • verbal-linguistic
  • logical-mathematical
  • visual-spatial
  • bodily-kinesthetic
  • musical-rhythmic
  • interpersonal
  • intrapersonal
  • naturalist

The Cranium founders boiled this down to the 4 pillars of play (create, connect, perform, discover), and each product we made had to somehow address all four.

Cranium has long since been bought by Hasbro, and I don’t know if they’ve maintained that litmus. But back in the day, those four words were our creed.

Lego2As parents, many of us worry about educating our kids properly. The good news is, according to natural genius theory, we’re all born with the capacity for this full skill set. Like a garden, it simply must be tended to grow.

Think about a toddler. They draw, run, sing, analyze, and pretend—all before breakfast! Then think about that kid in their teens, 20s, 30s … Do they practice all of those skills every day? Do you?

Here are some easy little things you can do to help that garden grow.

If you don’t have kids, which of these pillars may have gotten shorter in your own life? Give them a boost in the ways you play: outings, date nights, travel, etc. You might be surprised by the results in your work, productivity, and overall fulfillment, too.

Colors, shapes, visual-spatial skills, imagination, and art.

  • Draw your ideal house, pet, or method of transportation.
  • Find something with polka dots, stripes, or all the colors of the rainbow.
  • Color a picture or paint something in your house.
  • Do a puzzle—or better yet, make one!
  • Create a piece of art, decorate a cookie, or even reorganize a drawer.

Counting, logic, exploration, and observation.

  • Count the ingredients on your plate, the light switches in your house, or the number of times you’ve flown.
  • Find something that flies, hops, sticks, shrinks, etc.
  • Compare objects by smoothness, temperature, weight, or height.
  • Play a memory game.
  • Match sounds to pictures or instruments to songs.

Music, movement, sports, dexterity, and pretend.

  • Take turns dancing as a different animal: cat, frog, snake, etc.
  • Make up a song, story, or poem about something that makes you feel a particular emotion.
  • Pretend you’re doing something you’d do on a beach. (See if other’s can guess it.)
  • Stack blocks, rocks, or your snacks.
  • Pass a ball back and forth with your just your feet, knees, elbows, or head.

pink heartConnect
Reading, writing, conversation, expression, and storytelling.

  • Find something that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
  • Take turns telling your favorites and why: foods, books, places, animals, etc.
  • Have everyone think of a word and make up a story together using them all.
  • Write and swap good old-fashion letters in the mail.
  • Read a book together.

What are the ways you practice these of skills in your everyday play?

3 thoughts on “The 4 Pillars of Play

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