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2023 Play in Education (PIE) Conference

Play as a Classroom Tool

From games to manipulatives, learning-based play has an unmistakably large impact in the classroom. In addition to great content, participants will receive:

  • Lunch and Free entry for you and your family to the Fair

  • 5 CPDU/CE Credits 

  • First 100 registered receive a bag of Educational Insights products worth $40 (Blurt Game, Playfoam, $10 gift card)!

  • One attendee will win the Golden Game Award - over $300 worth of products from Educational Insights!  (Winner drawn at the end of day, must be present to win. )

Saturday, Nov. 4th, 10am-2pm

Location: Rosemont Convention Center, Conference Room , Maps HERE

First 100 educators to register receive a giftbag of products from Educational Insights! One Attendee Will Win the Golden Game Award and a Bag of over $300 worth of Educational Insights Products! 

You may be asking what is the Golden Game Award. When you register for the conference, one of the questions is how do you incorporate play into your classroom. Educators answering the question will have their answers shared and one educator will win the Golden Game Award for their ideas! We are very excited about this year! We will also share your ideas with our Play in Education Newsletter readers. If you aren't already receiving our newsletter, JOIN HERE! 

Educational Insights 2019 Prize for PIE

2019 Speakers!

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Tim Walsh - Creativity Hacks from an EntrePLAYneur

Join author, game designer and filmmaker, Tim Walsh as he shares 10 tips to hack the creativity curve. Tim moves successfully across multiple creative fields, while connecting people in playful and powerful ways.


In this fun and engaging session, Tim shares ideas from Right Brain Red, the book he wrote with serial entrepreneur Reyn Guyer (one of the most successful, creative professionals of our time), and other creativity hacks from his own research on the brain and optimizing creative performance. Join us for a presentation that promises to inspire anyone wanting to boost creative output.


Over an eclectic career spanning nearly 30 years, Tim has played hard. His books (Timeless Toys Andrews-McMeel, 2005; WHAM-O Super-Book Chronicle Books, 2008; and Right Brain Red River Grove Books, 2016) have been praised by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and NPR and others. His games (Blurt, Mad Gab, Feed Fuzzy, You’ve Been Framed, and more) have sold over 7 million copies in 13 countries. The two documentary films he co-produced, (Toyland and OPERATION: Operation, The Power of Play), have won 4 Best Documentary awards at US film festivals. Find him playing at:

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Mary Kay Morrison - The Humor Tonic: An Educator Survival Kit

Educators are facing new accountability requirements, an increasing focus on standards, and new societal pressures that impact the learning process. Stress negatively impacts the learning process in our educational systems.


This 90-minute session addresses the Illinois SEL goals. It will offer the most current information and practical applications in the use of humor, laughter and play across a broad range of professional and work environments. The psychology and physiology of this natural remedy will be examined along with play as an effective intervention for learning. Side effects may include incontinence, bellyaches and exhaustion from constant laughter. Warning: This tonic is highly contagious. If your laughter lasts for longer than 4 hours, share it with your health care provider. Do not miss this opportunity to see if humor and laughter are right for you!


Mary Kay Morrison is the director of Humor Quest and has spent over 25 years teaching at all grade levels and providing staff development on the benefits of play and humor to relieve stress. She is author of numerous articles and books including, Using Humor to Maximize Learning. She is past- president of AATH (The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor) and a faculty member of the AATH Humor Academy graduate program in humor studies.

Jed Dearybury a speaker at PIE Conferenc

Jed Dearybury - Play Your Way Out of the Box

Research shows that all students, young/old, black/white, rich/poor, benefit from the arts, creativity, and play in the classroom. It is time for all teaching to reflect that. School should be full of hands-on, engaging, creative, arts infused lessons. Any subject, any grade, this professional development session includes brainstorming ideas, growing staff creativity, observing model lessons.


During this session, you will learn some unique ways to bring creativity and the arts into every lesson you teach. Participants will be guided through the basics of how to make learning fun through the power of play and art and will have a greater understanding of how the two work hand in hand. This session will utilize ordinary objects, as well as some unique technology, that will model how to unleash creativity, play, and the arts in the classroom. You will leave the workshop ready to try out new playful ideas that will keep your learners engaged and curious as they experience true arts integration.


Jed Dearybury is 17 year veteran of education. During his 13 year early childhood classroom tenure, Jed received numerous awards. He was featured in GQ Magazine as Male Leader of the Year, met President Obama as the SC winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, and was named as a top 5 finalist for South Carolina Teacher of the Year because of his passion, love, and success in education. The last 4 years he has become an educational leader by providing quality, hands-on, engaging learning experiences for students and teachers across the country. Find him at 

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Joyce Hemphill - The Power of Playful Learning

Children benefit cognitively, physically, and socially when they play. Children also benefit cognitively, physically, and socially when manipulate objects for a craft project. However, the benefits received in making something are often not the same benefits received when a child plays. This workshop showcases some simple educational games and activities that can be made using common everyday items as well as highlight the various cognitive, physical, and social benefits received. By the end of the session each attendee will have made a couple of simple toys and experienced firsthand the benefits of making and playing. Materials will be provided.


Joyce Hemphill holds a doctorate in developmental psychology from The Ohio State University and almost 30 years of college classroom experience teaching infant-child development, cognition, and learning. In 2015 she co-authored The Power of Playful Learning (Capstone Publishing) which highlights the various benefits children receive from the making of and playing with games and play props. She contributes to a “Playing from Scratch” column for national and local organizations, guest blogs for the Madison Children’s Museum, and gives workshops at conferences and community events on ways to create playful learning activities using recyclable and low-cost materials.  Read More...


Peter Dargatz

In an era where documentation and assessment are paramount, child-led play is often left behind. If only there was a way to  document play to assess current curricular standards and age-appropriate developmental milestones. Sound impossible? Learn about how a public school kindergarten teacher uses Play Profiles to learn about his students interests, strengths, and areas of improvement and then applies that information to aid in his instructional planning for an indoor and outdoor classroom.


Peter Dargatz is a national board certified kindergarten teacher at Woodside Elementary in Sussex, Wisconsin. In 2015, he created a nature kindergarten program. His program has grown into an all-school collaboration with a local nature center and a district-wide family nature club. He is also the volunteer Tyke Hike coordinator for the Ice Age Trail Alliance and a founding member of the Wisconsin Nature-Based Early Childhood Association (WINBECA). Read More...

 Schedule of Topics and Activities

9:00am     Early access to Chicago Toy & Game Fair for you and your family (if applicable).

                    Leave your family at the Fair to enjoy and join us at the Conference!


10:00am   Introduction and Welcome by Tim Walsh


10:15am  Tim Walsh Creativity Hacks from an EntrePLAYneur


10:40am   Coffee Break


10:45am   Mary Kay Morrison The Humor Tonic: An Educator Survival Kit


12:15 am   Lunch and Hands on Play (Table Sponsors include Hand2Mind)


12:45pm   Jed Dearybury Play Your Way Out of the Box


1:45pm    Coffee Break


 1:50pm    Peter Dargatz - Nature and Play


2:20pm    Closing Session: Joyce Hemphill The Power of Playful Learning


3:00pm Off to the Fair for more hands on learning!

Thank You to our Presenting Sponsors!

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Thank You to our Table Sponsors!

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