Build and Play After School

What Is Build and Play?

SPI launched Build and Play After School in November 2019.

The program invites children to lead their own creative play. SPI provides the loose parts for them: cardboard, tape, fabric, paper towel tubes, art supplies, boxes, etc.

We host the program in an open space, inside or outside, and the children take the lead in play, building their creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills in the process.

We are operating at four program sites (at no cost to families and schools): Farmworkers Coordinating Council of Palm Beach in Lake Worth, Milagro Center, Achievement Center, and 21st Century After School @ Pine Grove Elementary in Delray Beach.


How are we funded?

Build and Play After School is funded by Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County and Sunflower Creative Arts.

Funding from the Children’s Services Council’s Great Ideas Initiative (GII) grant allows Sunflower Play Initiative (SPI) to continue offering the Build and Play After School Program at Farmworkers Coordinating Council (seen in the photo to the left) and Milagro Center on a consistent weekly and after-school basis.

The GII grant also allowed SPI to expand the Build and Play program to three new after school programs on a weekly basis.

On November 4, 2019, SPI started the program at Pine Grove Elementary in Delray Beach. Kindergarteners and First Graders in Achievement Center and 21st Century After School programs at Pine Grove participate in the Build and Play program for 90 minutes once a week.


The benefits of child-directed play

Between October 2019 and January 2020, we have held thirty Build & Play Sessions. The program has been very well received by the children, after school coordinators and class teachers.

At the Achievement Center @ Pine Grove, Build and Play Counselors observed a leap in creativity in just the second session of the program.

Children built a time machine (to go back to the 1980’s!), a cozy home (with a decorated Christmas party room and full bathroom with a toothbrush), a dog house (with a dog), and a restaurant serving delicious hot soups to the students and adults.

Again and again, in session after session, children show us their creativity and potential when they are given the space to play and build – in just the span of 90 minutes, once a week.

See the graphic below for more on the variety of benefits of child-directed play:


To view a larger version, click here.

SPI has quickly blossomed since founding Director Susan Caruso started the first Pop-Up Build and Play at the Delray Beach Library in June 2018. 

Since then, the initiative has grown into a community outreach program bringing play to children, families, and teachers in Palm Beach County.

All of our services (Build & Plays, Professional Development workshops for teachers and parental support) are offered at no cost to the community thanks to our team of volunteers and funders: Sunflower Creative Arts, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach, and the Young Family Foundation.


Sunflower Play Initiative is a community outreach program of Sunflower Creative Arts, a Delray Beach based 501c3 nonprofit empowering children to be confident, creative and compassionate through Play, Nature and the Arts. We are funded by Sunflower and Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.