Play Resources In Your Area

Play Resources in Your Area from Encourage Play

As I’ve been working and making connections for Encourage Play, I’ve come across a few in person resources that I think would be helpful for kids and their families. I want to support kids who struggle with social skills as much as I can online, but making connections in person is key. Since we have readers across the country and around the world, I thought I’d share a few different resources that operate in different areas.

Special Playdate

My favorite family to have a playdate with has a girl around my daughter’s age and a boy around my son’s age and they have similar interests, but that can be hard to find. Even if you have friends with kids, for whatever reason, playdates with your kids may not work. I’ve been looking at different ways to help set up playdates and I came across Special Playdate.

Special Playdate is a service that connects parents with other parents looking for playdate opportunities for their children. It was founded by Jane Reddig, who worked as a special educator in the New York school system for years. Like me, she noticed that kids were having trouble making friends and setting up playdates, and so she created Special Playdate. It’s for children with or without special needs so anyone can join and start connecting.

The other thing I really love about Special Playdate is that they also offers facilitated playgroups in New York City. This way, there’s a person monitoring how things are going on a playdate and can step in if necessary to help problem solve. That service is mainly in NYC right now, but there are plans to expand. Soon, they’re also going to have a list on their website of people all over the United States who offer in person playdate services. Check out for more details and to sign up and start having playdates!


TimberNook is a nature based outdoor camp program that runs year round. TimberNook was founded by Angela Hanscom, a Pediatric OT by training and a mom. As she was working with clients, she wondered about the impact that just playing outdoors could have on the issues she was seeing with her clients. She is passionate about the importance of play, taking risks and especially being outdoors. She created a program to help encourage kids to play outside in nature. This program is wonderful, and I especially appreciate the social aspects involved while playing in groups outside in nature.

You know that I am passionate about the importance of play, and I came across TimberNook’s article about why children fidget and had to share. TimberNook started in New Hampshire and here’s a listing of where they will have camps by the end of 2015:

San Francisco, CA*

Southern Pines, CA

Lakes Region, NH

Barrington, NH*

Madbury, NH*

Brentwood, NH*

San Luis Obispo, CA

Atlanta, Georgia

Charlotte, North Carolina*

Miami, Florida*

Cleveland, Ohio*

New Zealand*

Cape Cod, MA

Long Island, NY

* = Available Now

If you are interested in starting your own TimberNook, you’re in luck! This fall, there will be a training in New England for individuals interested in bringing nature-based programming to their own community. Stop by to find out more and see what they have to offer!

Lekotek Play Groups

I just found out about Lekotek on my recent trip to Chicago. Lekotek provides play based family time for families who have children with disabilities. Families can come in once a month and play together with the variety of games in the center. Lekotek provides Family Play Specialists to help support and assist families in learning to play together.

They also have a toy lending library. It works just like a library for books, except it’s for games. You can check out games to play for the month with your family and bring it back the next time you come into the center. What a great way to try new games and encourage play for families!

There are groups all over the United States, in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Check out more information and go play with your family!

Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW

Alison has been working with children and families in therapy in Georgia for years and recently moved to Massachusetts. She has a particular talent for working with children in groups. She is doing amazing work in Needham, helping kids connect and learn how to interact with one another. She offers lots of groups for children and young adults ages 4-22 and support for their siblings and families. She’s even started Music Therapy classes! If you’re in the Eastern Massachusetts area, check out her website, and contact her.

We are discovering so many great resources all over the US and the world! Soon, we will be adding a resources page to Encourage Play to help families find and make connections in person. What are some of your favorite in person resources around where you live? If you have one (or a few!) you’d like to share, please email us at and it will be added to our resources.

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