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Ooey Gooey, Inc. » In the News » Tribune Star (Aug 2004)

Tribune Star (Aug 2004)

‘Oooey Gooey Lady’ encourages playtime

Tribune Star
By Nicole Mullins

It’s OK for your kids to play. In fact, it should be the basis of everything you teach your child.

That’s the philosophy Lisa Murphy, the “Ooey Gooey Lady,” has been taking nationwide for seven years, and she emphasized it to a group of about 370 early childhood educators at Northview High School in her workshop Saturday. The workshop was presented by the LEAAP Program.

Using her 15 years experience as an educator, Murphy explained in the workshop’s afternoon session that children need to be encouraged to express themselves freely with plenty of playtime.

“Play is the cement that’s holding our [educational] foundation together,” she said. “When that foundation is strong, what can we start doing? Building!”

Murphy said educators should build six other aspects upon that foundation: create, discuss, move, observe, sing and read.

“Playing is kindergarten readiness,” she said. “It’s not as if you have to make a choice: Are we learning, or are we playing? We’ve blended them together.”

Contrary to popular belief, creativity is not always art, Murphy said.

“Their creativity comes out in other ways,” including Legos and Play-Doh, she said.

Murphy revealed that 40 percent of schools in the United States no longer allow recess. She warned against emulating one school in Virginia Beach that replaced recess time with a “walk and talk program.” Children had to walk in one direction for 20 minutes and use quiet voices to talk to classmates.

“If kids aren’t given a place to [play] appropriately, where does this happen? Inappropriately in the classroom,” she said.

Singing is the first intelligence humans gain and the last they lose, Murphy said. “First exposure you get is listening to your momma’s heartbeat,” she said, telling of one child who wouldn’t speak until she began singing to him. “Sing to them. It’s incredibly important.”

Murphy’s energy and passion for educating children radiated into the crowd as she told humorous stories about children she’s taught. The audience was educated, yet entertained, which underlined Murphy’s philosophy.

Mary Yelton, LEAPPS coordinator, said Murphy’s energy is what makes others eager to learn from her.

“The stories she tells — she knows children and how we can help them enjoy learning and be successful,” she said.

Marcia Ferrell, a teacher’s assistant in Terre Haute, was encouraged by Murphy’s enthusiasm. “She’s very energetic,” she said. “The stuff that she talks about, she hits the nail on the head.”

Karen Harding, executive director of 4C, said Murphy’s approach could help academia nationwide.

“We need to be doing the right things with children to develop a love of lifelong learning,” she said. “Today’s [turnout] is an indication that our community recognizes the importance.”

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