Beth Ferholt & Playworld Collaborators

“A Brooklyn Playworld, photo by Rachel Kahn”

Keynote Abstract

Playworlds are a form of adult-child joint play and a way of being, in which play is combined with art or science.  The term comes from the creative pedagogy of play, a preschool pedagogy designed by the Swedish scholar, Gunilla Lindqvist, in the 1990’s. Today playworlds are popular in Sweden, developed and in use in Finland, and also take place in Japan and Serbia.  Playworlds are designed to include all who wish to join and they support all participants in feeling welcomed, valued, cared for, and caring.  They are also a powerful tool for studying development through participant design research.  In this keynote we, the community of playworld participants in Brooklyn, will describe how we have sustained and grown our playworld work in a public elementary school in one of the few nations that does not even claim to support the child’s right to play.  We will describe a decade of building playworlds, from our inspiration in Sweden through to this point in the pandemic in New York City, and answer questions – from our perspectives as people, puppets, children, adults, dogs, monkeys, researchers, teachers, and artists — about our past and ongoing challenges and creations. (For more information about the international playworld work of which our work is a part, see: