We Play

What is WE PLAY?

WE PLAY stands for Wellness Enhancing Physical Activity for Young Children. This course is designed to provide early childhood educators with tools and support to facilitate active play with preschool children. WE PLAY offers strategies for incorporating physically active play into preschool, including adaptations for children with autism spectrum disorder.

Course Objectives:

  • Increase understanding about physical activity in preschoolers, including those with autism
  • Develop confidence and skills leading physically active play
  • Establish an action plan for implementing physically active play for preschoolers with autism

Our Goal

We Play was designed to help early learning professionals increase their understanding about how physical activity helps young children, to give them new ideas for fun and easy games that can be played with children ages 3-5 years, and to expand their confidence and skills leading physically active play.

Why We Play?

While adults may think that preschoolers get plenty of physical activity, research shows that many preschoolers are actually not active enough. Physical activity benefits multiple areas of child development, including: enhanced cognitive functioning; positive physical and mental health; learning and academic success; and improved classroom behavior. It is also a key strategy to promote healthy weight.

We Play Includes:

  • A 2 hour online training
  • A video library of fun and easy-to-lead active games
  • Downloadable handouts about each game
  • A teacher self-assessment
  • An administrator support component
  • Parent letters to support home-school collaboration

Professional Development

WE PLAY is a CDA accepted, CEU eligible course through Better Kid Care. See the status of course approvals in your state at http://bit.ly/BKCinyourstate.

On Demand professional development courses are available at no cost. $5.00 is charged for most certificates of completion.

We Play Research

Antonelli, R., Hoffman, J. A., Mederios, H., & Carr, S. J. (2023, February). Adapting a Preschool Physical Activity Training for K-2: Utilizing Stakeholder Feedback. Poster presentation at the National Association of School Psychologists annual convention, Denver, CO.
Download WE PLAY Poster | Download WE PLAY Poster References

Schmidt, E. S., Hoffman, J. A., Mulé, C., & Briesch, A. M. (in press). Adapting a Preschool Physical Activity Intervention to Be Inclusive of Children on the Autism Spectrum. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education.

Schmidt, E. M., Hoffman, J. A., Mule, C., & Briesch, A. M. (2021). Effects of a teacher training program to promote physically active play among children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of School Psychology, 85, 57-79.

Schmidt, E. M., Hoffman, J. A., Mulé, C. & Briesch, A. M (2020, May). Effects Of A Teacher Training Program To Promote Physical Activity Among Preschoolers With Autism. Oral presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting. San Francisco, CA. (Abstract published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 52(5) Supplement.)

Hoffman, J. A., Schmidt, E. M., Arguello, D. J., Eyllon, M. N., Castaneda-Sceppa, C., Cloutier, G, & Hillman, C. H. (2020). Online preschool teacher training to promote physical activity: A pilot cluster randomized controlled trial. School Psychology, 35(2),118-127.

Hoffman, J. A. & Schmidt, E. M. (2019, February). WE PLAY: Promoting physical activity among preschoolers. Paper presentation at the National Association of School Psychologists annual convention, Atlanta, GA.

Hoffman, J. A., Schmidt, E. M., Castaneda-Sceppa, C., & Hillman, C. H. (2019). The theoretical foundation, fidelity, feasibility, and acceptability of a teacher training to promote physical activity among preschoolers in child care: A pilot study. Preventive Medicine Reports, 13, 214-217.

See our presentation from the National Research Conference on Early Childhood in Arlington, VA on June 26, 2018.

WE PLAY was supported with funding from the Healthy Weight Research Network and the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.

Questions about We Play?

If you have questions about We Play, please contact us at [email protected].

The We Play Team

The We Play team is made up of a group of faculty members and graduate students at Northeastern University with expertise in psychology, exercise science, kinesiology, computer science, and public health. Members of our team have been working for many years with colleagues at Head Start to promote children’s health and wellness, and the idea for We Play was inspired by and informed through these collaborations.

Jessica Hoffman - Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research, Northeastern University

Jessica Hoffman
Principal Investigator and Associate Professor
Northeastern University

Charles Hillman - Northeastern University

Charles Hillman
Co-Investigator and Professor
Northeastern University

Carmen Sceppa - Bouvé College of Health Sciences Northeastern University

Carmen Sceppa
Co-Investigator, Professor and Dean
Northeastern University

Ellyn Schmidt
Graduate Student
Northeastern University

Mara Eyllon - Northeastern University

Mara Eyllon
Graduate Student
Northeastern University

Robert Antonelli
Graduate Student
Northeastern University

Haley Medeiros
Graduate Student
Northeastern University