May 17, 2014 @ 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Founder's Hall in the Ferry Administration Building
Pine Manor College
400 Heath Street, Chestnut Hill
MA 02467
Early Bird Registration: $35 After April 17th: $45
Victoria Vacaro
617-266-0953 ext. 105


The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World

Join Us May 17, 2014!

Play is crucial for creativity, healthy development, and learning.  It’s how children naturally wrestle with life to make it meaningful.  Yet young children today are routinely and often inadvertently prevented from playing at home and in early childhood settings.

One major culprit is the commercialization of childhood. Loveable media characters; cutting edge technology; brightly colored packaging; and well-funded, psychologically-savvy marketing strategies combine in coordinated campaigns to capture the hearts, minds, and imaginations of children-teaching them to value that which can be bought over their own make-believe creations.

 Dr. Linn will explore the erosion of creative play and what professionals who work with young children can do to ensure that all children have opportunities for make believe.

Click Here to Register Online

Presenter Susan Linn, EdD
Susan Linn, EdD is founder and director
of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, research associate at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  She has written two books and numerous articles about creative play and the effects of media and commercial marketing on children.  A psychologist and an award-winning ventriloquist, she and her puppets appeared on Mister Rogers Neighborhood and in numerous videos helping children cope with difficult issues ranging from racism to parental depression.  In 2006, she received a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association for her work on behalf of children.


Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will acquire an understanding of the links between play, creativity, and health.
  2. Participants will be able to identify how rampant commercialism and excessive screen time undermine and diminish children’s opportunities for creative play.
  3. Participants will identify strategies for addressing societal barriers to play and to nurturing creative play in a screen saturated, commercialized world.



  1. Linn, Susan (2008) The Case for Make Believe:  Saving Play in a Commercialized World.  The New Press.
  2. Linn, Susan (2004)  Consuming Kids:  The Hostile Takeover of Childhood.  The New Press.
  3. Winnicott, D.W.  (2012 2nd edition) Playing and Reality.Routledge Classics.


Free Workshop Immediately Following the Program

Participants are invited to a workshop immediately following the conference from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM. The workshop will address working with children at risk, speaking to parents and assisting with referrals. Co-leaders of the workshop will be Alexandra Harrison, MD and Susan Twombly, MS.  

Alexandra Harrison, MD is a child and adolescent psychoanalyst and psychiatrist practicing in Cambridge, MA. She is a core faculty member of the Infant Parent Mental Health Post Graduate Certificate Program, University of Massachusetts Boston.  She is a member of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

Susan Twombly, MS
 is the director of the Infant, Toddler, and Children’s Center of Acton, MA. She was the founding director of the Children’s Hospital Child Care Center in Boston prior to coming to the Acton program. She has been in the early childhood education field for 40 years.

Continuing Education


Early Childhood Education Credits

Certificates of attendance for four(4) hours for the professional development portfolios of early childhood educators will be awarded.
*Continuing Education Certificates for early childhood educators will be distributed to participants at the conclusion of the program. For information about Continuing Education Credit for psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, please contact us.*
The Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Inc., 169 Herrick Road, Newton Centre, MA 02459, does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin or handicap in the admissions, administration of its educational programs, scholarship and loan programs or employment.

Click here for printable flier