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      Playing towards a better education

      Over 200 parents and early childhood professionals came together Friday morning with one goal -- to learn more about enhancing the lives of children around us.

      It was for the 30th Annual Upper Peninsula Early Childhood Conference.

      Fridayâ??s lesson centered on something we've seen for yearsâ?| Song, dance and games used to make learning fun for kids.

      "Sometimes childrenâ??s attention spans aren't that long and to grasp them in that music note or song really can help with learning," said Vanessa Green, a teacher attending Fridayâ??s conference.

      Play was the theme of this year's Early Childhood Conference. It stands for purposeful learning active young people.

      "This year we decided play was important because we want children to be active in their learning and not just recipients of their learning," said Jim Edwards, a Co-Chair of the conference.

      Jim Gill, a keynote speaker, shared song and dance ideas with parents and child educators while stressing the benefits of playful learning in young childrenâ??s lives.

      "He is fantastic with his music and his songs and getting children involved," said Jesica Bess, a Teaching Assistant. "I believe that play is one of the most hands on thing that we can do with children."

      The next challenge for these educators is using whatâ??s learned here to get their own children involved.

      "I plan on learning more and more and taking what I like," admitted Amber Burgin, an Early Headstart educator. "We kind of steal other peopleâ??s ideas and adapt them to make them better."

      With teachers this passionate and dedicated to helping their students adapting these lessons to their classroom may be as easy as one two three.