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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Kids Have Hands-On Fun at 'Play Day'

Idea is to inspire children to be creative at home.

Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press, 6-16-2012

The boys made quick work of the white-papered wall at Rasmussen Woods.

By five minutes after 10 a.m. Friday, only the edges remained white.

The mid-section was just about every color in the rainbow and a few that aren’t.

No discernible shapes or images. Just splashes, streaks, smears, smudges and three boys with outstretched hands that looked pretty much the same.

“OK, let’s give someone else a chance,” said Alysha Smook, the mom of two of the artists.

“Yeah, we gotta clean ourselves up,” said Drew Smook, 8. “ Weird. I’m the one who got the most dirty, and I’m the oldest.”

Smook tended to Drew, his brother Eric Smook, 5, and their friend Trace Altenberg, 6, while Katie Nommensen tended to the situation underneath the wall mural. Some colorful spilling had occurred. Some painting tools had been soiled. And with the “Play Day” event scheduled to go on for a couple of more hours, the Minnesota State University student had a long morning of cleaning up ahead of her.

That’s OK, she said.

“I’ve always liked kids,” said Nommensen, a junior family consumer science major.

The fourth annual event, put on by Minnesota State University’s Family Consumer Science students and faculty, in collaboration with the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, was aimed at preschool and early schoolage children and their parents. During a summer session course taught by Heather Von Bank, 10 students created no- cost and low- cost activities to engage children at “Play Day.

The idea is to inspire children and parents to get creative with play at home, Von Bank said.

“You don’t have to go out and buy expensive toys,” she said.

The day also is intended to raise awareness for parents about the importance of play in children’s lives

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