A Wild Rumpus is coming to Madison

Let your little ones explore AnjiPlay during this summer’s Wild Rumpus play series.

608 wild rumpus

There will be Wild Rumpus events for the next six Mondays in Madtown.

Photo via City of Madison

Table of Contents

A Wild Rumpus is coming to Madison. The Madison Public Library is working with the Parks Division to bring a free child-led play series to the 608.

A Wild Rumpus is inspired by the philosophy of AnjiPlay. Educators create environments that foster every child’s need for uninterrupted + unguided play that is initiated, directed, and determined by the child. The five pillars of this educational philosophy are:

  1. Love | Safety that comes from responsive, reliable, and consistent environments and relationships. The experience of being trusted, heard, seen, and respected.
  2. Risk |The experience of doing something with uncertain outcomes based on a prediction. Risk is the basis of inquiry, learning, discovery, and the scientific method.
  3. Joy | The internal reward that comes from experiences of risk, deep engagement, and discovery. The presence of joy is the clearest measure of quality in early childhood programs.
  4. Engagement | A sense of connection and purpose that arises from exploration and discovery of the physical and social worlds.
  5. Reflection | The process of thinking about, interpreting, and understanding experiences and information.
Child playing on climbing structure

Your little one will jump at the chance to participate in these summer play sessions. | Photo via Madison Public Library

The library is implementing AnjiPlay because it aligns well with the five practices of early literacy:

  1. Read | Reading together develops vocabulary and comprehension, nurtures a love for reading, and motivates children to want to learn to read.
  2. Write | Children become aware that printed letters stand for spoken words as they see print used in their daily lives.
  3. Talk | Talking with children helps them learn oral language. They learn about language by listening to parents talk and joining in the conversation.
  4. Sing | Singing develops language skills. Slows down language so children can hear the different sounds in words.
  5. Play | Children learn about language through playing as the activities help them put thoughts into words and talk about what they are doing.

The critical aspect of the Wild Rumpus experience lies in the reflection component of AnjiPlay + the play component of early literacy. After the play session, children create a Play Story. Through this process, whether by making simple doodles or full paragraphs, kids have a chance to reflect on the experience.

By observing Play Stories, adults and educators gain insights into how a child thinks and operates through their play style. Think: Leadership, cooperation, and creativity skills.


A Wild Rumpus play sessions will take place from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the following dates at Haen and Reindahl Parks in Madison:

Haen Family Park, 7702 Tree Ln.

  • Monday, July 10
  • Monday, July 17
  • Monday, July 24

Reindahl Park, 1818 Portage Rd.

  • Monday, July 31
  • Monday, August 7
  • Monday, August 14

History of AnjiPlay

AnjiPlay is not just about preparing children for standardized tests but nurturing compassionate, engaged, creative, and curious citizens. The innovative early childhood education curriculum was developed by Ms. Cheng Xueqin in Anji County, Zhejiang Province, China.

Anji County’s public preschools and village teaching sites serve 14,000 children between the ages of 3 and 6. Previously, the focus of early childhood education in China was on structured learning, but Ms. Cheng aimed to change that. Inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and China’s guidelines for kindergarten education, she introduced the concept of play as an essential learning activity.

Ms. Cheng’s experimentation led her to understand the importance of self-determined, risky play and open-ended materials. By giving children the freedom to engage in “True Play” with ample time, they manifested their intentions with high levels of complexity. The role of teachers shifted from directing play to observing, understanding, and supporting children in their self-initiated activities. Trusting children’s abilities and allowing them to create their own experiences and discoveries became essential in the AnjiPlay approach.

Initially met with resistance from parents, Ms. Cheng addressed their concerns by sharing national guidelines for childhood development and inviting them to observe their children at play. Witnessing the bravery, compassion, and intelligence displayed by their young ones transformed skeptical parents into ardent supporters. The success of AnjiPlay led to Ms. Cheng receiving recognition and thousands of educators from across China visiting her schools to learn from her approach.