Learn about Dr. Pleuss’ Toys May Term.

If you take the stairs up to the main level of the Walker Science Building in mid to late May, you may be followed by something that “walks downstairs, alone and or in pairs and makes a slinky sound.”

Dr. Jessica Pleuss’ Toys course gives  Morningside University students a chance to relive their childhood or experience a new way of play.Dr. Pleuss' Toys May Term poses for a group photo during their trip to a playground.Dr. Pleuss’ Toys May Term poses for a group photo during their trip to a playground.

“Through my works in developmental psychology and just being a parent, I observe play in children,” Pleuss noted. “I’m also of the opinion that college students just don’t play enough.”

When approached about teaching in the experiential section of the campus’ curriculum, she brought out hula hoops, slinkies, modeling clay, Tinker Toys, and more. Her students couldn’t be more appreciative.

“Honestly, I just like playing with toys,” senior Alyx Curran-Lewis said. “I do so with my younger siblings quite a bit. It’s cool to see what else is out there, though. This will be a big help with my career path in pediatric nursing, too, as it allows me to see play at different stages of a child’s development.”

“We get to test some newer toys during the class,” he added. “It makes me feel like we are diving into new treasure when we open up a new box.”

Junior Misty Sudtelgte wanted to have fun, but it also allows her to see how she could make new inroads with a seven-year-old son who is sensory challenged and has been diagnosed with ADHD.Two students play on the swings in the Toys May Term.Two students play on the swings in the Toys May Term.

“My main reason for taking this class was to destress after a tough first semester,” she admitted. “It has been nice to learn something new to help my son better meet his needs.”

An example of that for her was a book report she recently delivered.

“One of the parts of the book talked about cartoons,” she reflected. “I realized with what my son can see on Netflix and how much violence there can be in current shows. I wanted him to see what I grew up with. Yeah, there probably weren’t any morals delivered at the end of my generation’s cartoons, but they are just pure fun with not so much of an edge.”

In Pleuss’ course, students explore what a toy is by discussing and playing with different types, visiting toy stores, talking about what play is and observing it on a personal or multi-subject level, written assignments, and even developing a new toy and sales pitch to deliver to a panel of experts at its end.

“Dr. Pleuss is passionate about this,” Curran-Lewis said. “You can tell by her lectures – so full of history and interesting and fun things about toys and play.”