Natalie Ortega Wells, MS

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Episode: Laughing

Laughing and Playing with Natalie Ortega-Wells, MS

Former Director of Program Development and Evaluation at Regnier Family Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City


By: Alivia Meyers 

Alivia is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, majoring in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Digital Journalism and Media. A part-time nanny, she says that she loves this segment on laughing and playing because it is very important to her job. “Yes, there are rules and some ‘not-so-fun’ tasks that the kids have to do,” she adds, “but I have noticed that it is essential to integrate play and laughter into even the most mundane of things!”


Connecting through imagination, dreams, ideas and laughing helps a child build resilience and tolerate frustration through changing perspectives, fun, hope and relaxation.

Connecting through laughing:

  • Helps build a safe, stable, nurturing relationship.
  • Leads to self-discipline, self-reliance, self-confidence and personal responsibility.

Example: laughing at mistakes and tolerating frustration, thus build resilience

In this interview highlights below, Natalie talks about the importance of laughing and play in a child’s development and growth. Here are some of her sparks to encourage laughter:

What to do: 

  • All a child really needs from you is consistency and attention. Playing with your child does not have to mean scheduling out hours of your day. Play does not have to be a lot of time, it needs only to be consistent. Child-led play allows children to make choices regarding the type of play they want to interact in. 

Why it matters: 

  • Play is really the basis of everything for children. Children learn and develop many key skills through playing. They learn physical skills, cognitive skills, social and emotional skills. Adults can also benefit from interacting in play with their children. They build communication skills, learn about their child’s interests and the way they play and communicate. 

One big takeaway: 

Play can be anything. Play can come in all different shapes and sizes. It can be anything from playing dress up to singing songs together. Play can also be incorporating a child’s imagination into daily tasks such as raking leaves, doing laundry or preparing dinner. Letting children make choices regarding play can make them feel important and valued.