Playful Quotes for the Child in your Heart

Playful Quotes for the Child in your Heart

“When we make Play the foundation of learning, we teach the Whole child.” ~ Vince GowmonClick To Tweet

Enjoy this selection of quotes on play from luminaries past and present. These teachers express why play is so vital to our professional paths, creativity, purpose, relationships, learning, personal well-being and connection to life. And of course, they elucidate why play serves the health and development of children. You will see that I have weaved in a few of my own quotes as well.

If your appetite for quotes is not quite satiated, check out my list of Inspiring Quotes for Child Learning and Development and Inspiring Quotes to Ignite Imagination, Wonder and Laughter. I also encourage you to watch this short, fun and inspiring video called Come Out & Play ~ Embracing Life’s Infinite Playground.

Also… check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children, A Children’s Book for Adults

Happy scrolling!

For more inspiring articles, research, tips and tools, subscribe to Vince’s free e-newsletter.


“Play isn’t something separate from the daily grind of life. It is not something to finally get to when work ends. Rather, play, like music, is a force that we feel in our bones and that whispers in our heart. As kids demonstrate, play is not over there, but forever here and now.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Children don’t need more things. The best toys a child can have is a parent who gets down on the floor and plays with them.” ~ Anonymous

“It’s okay to be absurd, ridiculous and downright irrational at times; 
silliness is the sweet syrup that helps us swallow the bitter pills of life.” 
~ Richelle E. Goodrich

“A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.” ~ Roald Dahl

“Play is the absence of stress.” ~ Poole

“Play is the highest form of research.” ~ Albert Einstein

“This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” ~ Alan W. Watts

“A man is getting old when he walks around a puddle instead of through it.” ~ R.C. Ferguson

“All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.” ~ Samuel Butler

“Supporting children to play requires us to remember what life is all about. It’s not about getting from A-Z, but rather dreaming beyond both.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“For a small child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational.’ The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play.” ~ Penelope Leach

“Play builds the kind of free-and-easy, try-it-out, do-it-yourself character that our future needs.” ~ James L. Hymes, Jr.

“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.” ~ Linda Naiman

“Play is not a break from learning. It is endless, delightful, deep, engaging, practical learning. It’s the doorway into the child’s heart!” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Children more than ever, need opportunities to be in their bodies in the world – jumping rope, bicycling, stream hopping, and fort building. It’s this engagement between limbs of the body and bones of the earth where true balance and centeredness emerge.” ~ David Sobel

“Life is playfulness…We need to play so that we can rediscover the magic all around us.” ~ Flora Colao

“Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” ~ Abraham Maslow

“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” ~ Mr. Rogers

“The gift of Play is that it invites us to create without attachment, explore without a destination, and enjoy without complexity.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“The activities that are the easiest, cheapest, and most fun to do – such as singing, playing games, reading, storytelling, and just talking and listening – are also the best for child development.” ~ Jerome Singer

“Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.” ~ Roger von Oech

“To give a child a mechanical toy is equivalent to playing for him” ~ Walter Wood

“Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.” ~ Erin KennyClick To Tweet

“Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they’re looking for ideas.” ~ Paula Poundstone

“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!” ~ Charlie Chaplin

“If you trust play, you will not have to control your child’s development as much. Play will raise the child in ways you can never imagine.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Children have always learned and created places for themselves through play.” ~ Donna R. Barnes

“The soul is healed by being with children.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“Creative play is like a spring that bubbles up from deep within a child.” ~ Joan Almon

“If we want our kids to have happy, productive, moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less.” ~ Peter Gray

“Smiling is mouth Yoga.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“Improvisation, composition, writing, painting, theater, invention, all creative acts are forms of play, the starting place of creativity in the human growth cycle, and one of the great primal life functions… Technique itself springs from play… Creative work is play… In play we manifest fresh, interactive ways of relating with people, animals, things, ideas, images, ourselves…” ~ Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

“Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.” ~ Stuart Brown, MD

“If a child has been able in his play to give up his whole loving being to the world around him, he will be able, in the serious tasks of later life, to devote himself with confidence and power to the service of the world.” ~ Rudolf Steiner

“To play with a child is to love a child.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“There are children playing in the streets who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.” ~ J. Robert Oppenheimer

“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.” ~ Pablo Neruda

“Whoever wants to understand much must play much.” ~ Gottfried Benn

“I am often accused of being childish. I prefer to interpret that as child-like. I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things. I tend to exaggerate and fantasize and embellish. I still listen to instinctual urges. I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind. I never water my garden without soaking myself. It has been after such times of joy that I have achieved my greatest creativity and produced my best work.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

“In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior. In play it is as though he were a head taller than himself.” ~ Lev Vygotsky

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” ~ Diane Ackerman

“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

“Play is not the absence of work. It is the fulfillment of your joyful and creative spirit.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Ritual grew up in sacred play; poetry was born in play and nourished on play; music and dancing were pure play…. We have to conclude, therefore, that civilization is, in its earliest phases, played…” ~ Johan Huizinga

“Sometimes you have to drop the rake and play in the leaves.” ~ Douglas V’Soske

“It's never too late to have a happy childhood.” ~ Wayne DyerClick To Tweet

“We finally move into our destiny when we understand that we are to live in and as adventurous play…perhaps the whole natural world is a party, a festival, and we, the long awaited champagne.” ~ Brian Swimme

“Culture arises and unfolds in and as play.” ~ Johan Huizinga

“Structured play is akin to making a meal from someone else’s recipe. Unstructured play is like creating your own meal from your imagination.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“A really mature person cannot be serious, there is nothing to be serious about. The whole of life is fun, it is a play, a play of consciousness. And that’s what meditation reveals to you – that the whole of life is a beautiful play of energy. The same energy is in the trees, in the stars, in the rivers, in the mountains, in you, in animals. It is the same energy dancing in different forms. We in the East have called it ‘leela’. Leela means god’s play.” ~ Osho

“Childhood is a short season.” ~ Helen Hayes

“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined we would have to defend children’s right to play.” Nancy Carlsson-Paige

“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” ~ Alan Wilson Watts

“If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right.” ~ Bob Basso

“Play is the language of children. Have you spoken it to them lately?” ~ Vince Gowmon

“He who does not get fun and enjoyment out of every day… needs to reorganize his life.” ~ G. M. Adams

“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“The most successful adults maintain the ability to play.” ~ Dr. Jack Shonkoff

“Nothing lights up a child’s brain like play.” ~ Dr. Stuart Brown

“When we deny children play, we are denying them the right to understand the world.” ~ Erika & Nicholas Christakis

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Sing out loud in the car even, or especially, if it embarrasses your children.” ~ Marilyn FenlandClick To Tweet

“Play is the soil from which a child grows. Let her flower naturally, organically and in her own timing.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Play comes in many forms, but it is generally freely chosen, spontaneous, self-directed and fun.” ~ Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card

“Play sharpens our talent for empathy & collaboration…it’s the antidote to social isolation” ~ S. Eberle

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” ~ Dale Carnegie

“When you are dancing and singing with joy, with deep acceptance of yourself as you are, wisdom starts happening.” ~ Osho

“Play liberates our soul, grounds us into our body, and frees our creativity. Play gifts our spirit to the world!” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Life isn’t as serious as my mind makes it to be.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

“Trying to define play is like trying to define love. You can’t do it. It’s far too big for that.” ~ Gordon Sturrock

“Unstructured free play is the gestation period for the ideas and innovation our world needs.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“First you must learn to play by the rules, then you must forget the rules and play from your heart.” ~ Anonymous

“I try to believe like I believed when I was five…when your heart tells you everything you need to know.” ~ Lucy Liu

“Creating more space for children to play in our communities begins with creating more space in our hearts for the child within.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“We’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” ~ Dr. Seuss

“Play liberates our soul, grounds us into our body, and frees our creativity. Play gifts our spirit to the world!” ~ Vince Gowmon

“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.” ~ John CleeseClick To Tweet

“Play is the answer to the question, ‘How does anything new come about?’” ~ Jean Piaget

“It’s one thing to build the sandbox for children. It’s another to jump in and play with them.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of education.” ~ Luther Burbank

“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.” ~ Heraclitus

“Your body cannot heal without play. Your mind cannot heal without laughter. Your soul cannot heal without joy.” ~ Catherine Rippenger Fenwick

“Play fuels your creativity, tickles your inner child and nurtures your soul.” ~ Claudia Black

“You can dance anywhere, even if only in your heart.” ~ Author Unknown

“Play with a child and you ensure that the gifts and purpose of the inner child live on into adulthood.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

“A person’s maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play.” ~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

“In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“For the adult who could not safely be a child, play is incredibly healing… and it can be uncomfortable and even scary. So much of the healing of our world begins in healing the inner child who rarely, if ever, got to come out and play.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” ~ D.W. Winnicott, British pediatrician

“The true object of all human life is play.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

“Play is training for the unexpected.” ~ Marc Bekoff

“In creating ample room for children to Play, we trust their inherent unfolding. We allow them to dictate their growth and development. The excessive need to control their flowering is a signal that we do not trust the power of our spirit to show the way, and specifically, we do not have faith in the vehicle of Play.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Play is the royal road to childhood happiness and adult brilliance.” ~ Joseph Chiltern PearceClick To Tweet

“Childhood is that state which ends the moment a puddle is first viewed as an obstacle instead of an opportunity.” ~ Kathy Williams

“Deep meaning lies often in childish play.” ~ Johann Friedrich von Schille

“Letting children play allows them to remain true to themselves. What better gift to the world—authentic and loving human beings.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” ~ Diane Ackerman

“Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.” ~ Roger von Oech

“Life must be lived as play.” ~ Plato

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.” ~ Stuart Brown, MD

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play.” ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

“You will only create room for a child to play to the degree that you value play, and give yourself permission to be playful.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Whoever wants to understand much must play much.” ~ Gottfried Benn

“The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.” ~ Erik H. Erikson

“Deep meaning lies often in childish play.” ~ Johann Friedrich von Schiller

“Play has been man’s most useful preoccupation.” ~ Frank Caplan

“Letting children play allows them to remain in a state of flow. This is incredibly vital given that flow is the natural state of life.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“The true object of all human life is play.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.” ~ Charles E. Schaefer

“Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.” ~ Stuart Brown

“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” ~ Kay Redfield Jamison

“Today, let’s dance with the universe.” ~ Hanns-Oskar Porr

“Happiness is a continuation of happenings which are not resisted.” ~ Deepak Chopra”

“Dancing can reveal all the mystery that music conceals.” ~ Charles Baudelaire

“Play is the shortest route between children and their creative calling.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~ PlatoClick To Tweet

“I shouldn’t have to defend play for children any more than I should have to defend their eating, sleeping, and breathing.” ~ Rae Pica

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” ~ Arnold Toynbee

“Play will soon be valued not as a break from the realities of life, but rather as an empowered act of creating them.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Play is the exultation of the possible.” ~ Martin Buber

“The truly great advances of this generation will be made by those who can make outrageous connections, and only a mind which knows how to play can do that.” ~ Nagle Jackson

“If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

“We fear our spontaneity because we are afraid of being wrong. To compensate, we plan, and over plan. We overthink our words and actions to make us feel safe.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct.” ~ Carl Jung

“I played with an idea, and grew willful; tossed it into the air; transformed it; let it escape and recaptured it; made it iridescent with fancy, and winged it with paradox.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know whether what you’re doing is work or play.” ~ Warren Beatty

“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

“The Paleolithic hunters who painted the unsurpassed animal murals on the ceiling of the cave at Altamira had only rudimentary tools. Art is older than production for use, and play older than work. Man was shaped less by what he had to do than by what he did in playful moments. It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities.” ~ Eric Hoffer

“Play is not the absence of work, but rather the Joyful expression of our Divine Creative Self! The more we express our Self, the more life is lived as Play!” ~ Vince Gowmon

“The masters in the art of living make little distinction between their work and their play, their labor and their leisure, their minds and their bodies, their information, their recreation, their love and their religion. They hardly know which is which, they simply pursue their vision of excellence at whatever they do, leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing.” ~ James Michener

“The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.” ~ G K Chesterton

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

“Play prepares the children of today to be the innovative thought leaders of tomorrow.” ~ Vince Gowmon

“Deep meaning lies often in childish play.” ~ Johann Friedrich von Schiller

“Now in myth and ritual the great instinctive forces of civilized life have their origin: law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primeval soil of play.” ~ Johan Huizing

“Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.” ~ Friedrich Froebel

“Work is a function of the ego. Play is an expression of the soul.” ~ Vince GowmonClick To Tweet


“I tried to teach my child with books,
he gave me only puzzled looks.
I tried to teach my child with words,
they passed by him often unheard.
Despairingly, I turned aside,
‘How shall I teach this child,’ I cried?
Into my hand he put the key,
‘Come,’ he said, ‘play with me.’”
~ Anonymous

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  1. Hey Vince, You are amazing. I love your quotes. whenever I need quotes for my social media, Your site is always in my mind. Thanks, man Keep it up.

  2. Thanks Vince!

    Supporting children to play requires us to remember what life is all about. It’s not about getting from A-Z, but rather dreaming beyond both.” ~ Vince Gowmon

    Is my fave one;-)

  3. Wonderful post! I am the mother of two sons and taught English to teenage students for years. The easiest and best learning they ever experienced was that which I was able to make into a game of some sort for them. They both enjoyed the learning experience and retained the information much better this way.

    • Thanks Dinah for sharing that teaching wisdom! I agree with making learning experiential and embodied through the language, power and simplicity of play, rather than limiting teaching/learning to rote mentation. It’s also more fun for the teacher! Blessings!

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