anthropology · behavior · children · creativity · design · play

Photographer captures small moments of a child’s exploration and discovery of the world

Originally from The Huffington Post:

San Francisco photographer Melissa Kaseman knows that imaginative art can come in tiny packages. That much is evident in her latest photo series, “Preschool Pocket Treasures,” which depicts the small objects she finds stuffed in her son’s pockets each day when he comes home from preschool.

“The magic of childhood is so fleeting, and these objects I kept finding in Calder’s pockets represent a chapter of boyhood, his imagination, and the magic of finding a ‘treasure,’” Kaseman told The Huffington Post, adding, “I like the idea of the photographs being a taxonomy report of a child’s imagination, specifically Calder’s. I hope he carries the wonderment of discovery throughout his life.”

56fa85b21e00008700705889

Ms. Kaseman has captured a fascinating phenomenon of children preschool age to want to create and keep collections of things they find fascinating. It is both a fascinating way to understand what they are interested in exploring – colors, shapes, textures, size, specific themes like shells or rocks or dinosaurs – and how that interest changes or shifts over the days, weeks, and months.

She is also taking a wonderful, respectful, and playful approach to her son’s pocket treasures by treating them with the same respect and fascination he did, capturing them and cataloging them in a way that showcases them and makes them fascinating to us the viewers.

“Preschool Pocket Treasures” applies an archival idea to capture a child’s growth and evolution.

Kaseman hopes people who look at the photos see “the magic of discovery in a child’s imagination.” She added, “A simple object can hold so much weight in one’s mind.”

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

56fa85b51e0000870070588c

View more of Ms. Kaseman’s work from the series “Preschool Pocket Treasures

In the meantime, take a new look at the things your child brings home from school, or how he has lined up all of his cars. Are they all the same size, color, side by side or in a row? This can provide some insight and wonder into your young child’s developing brain.

anthropology · architecture · behavior · community · creativity · culture · environment · health · mental health · psychology · Social

To make our cities inclusive, we need to make them playful again | CityMetric

To make our cities inclusive, we need to make them playful again | CityMetric

A million times yes! This article focuses on one of my biggest pet peeves and challenges as a play advocate; play not being taken seriously.

The author, Hilary O’Shaughnessy, and also the producer of the Playable City Award, discusses her play competition and the usual rub of people asking whether this is really all “worth it.” I’m quoting over half of her article, but she very eloquently covers an entire blog post I was planning on writing (I will still write it, I promise):

Amongst the usual squeals of anticipation [around the competition], there are questions about the value of these ideas to the “real” world. Fun is all well and good – but surely fun is the stuff we get to when the grown up work of building hospitals and roads is done with? When we’ve fixed the economy, let’s play. Cities are full of problems, why are we not fixing them first?

Herein lies the real issue. When we see play simply as fun, a whimsy for those of us lucky enough to have the time to engage in it, we underestimate the transformative power of play and it’s role in our lives.

Fixing problems, making our living and working spaces more livable and resilient, designing better cities, starts at every level with the people that Iive in those cities. Increasingly we are realising that our cities are designed for exclusivity, so it makes sense that we don’t feel part of shaping the future. This is revealed in the language we use to describe our relationships to the services and organisations that our cites are made of. We want them to fix it, they don’t want us to have a say, they give money to them to exclude us: the language is divisive and separating, and that’s the problem. Even the descriptions of the projects fail to deliver what they promise, because a playable city is experienced, not described.

The idea of what our cities should mean, how public money is spent, what we imagine as good for us and who is involved in designing them, is only ever addressed when we have a complaint or we feel excluded. We talk to the city council when the road is road is torn up or the lights won’t come on. We complain that our voices are unheard, but we never seize opportunities to speak, fearing that if we do we will be ignored or shouted down by the loudest ones.

This feeling of separation cannot be undone overnight. We need new approaches, new tools, and new ways to talk to one another about how to live together in cities.

From a different article, but an example of using play as political protest: a device placed in large potholes that tweets whiny complaints when it is run over in order to publicly shame govt. into action.

Conversations about the future, about how we want to live, have to begin from a level playing field, and crucially that level playing field may not be where we expect. Play is a leveler: when we play, we play as humans, first. Traditional status markers like wealth, celebrity, or qualifications are not really much use when invited to dance with your shadow or conduct lights like a demi-god.

Addressing problems and finding solutions that work for us all begin with inviting everyone into conversation. Play as unexpected interventions in familiar places act as invitations to connect, an offer to begin to talk about those parts of our cities that we feel excluded from. To new eyes and ears, some projects can seem esoteric – but that is because we have become numbed to dull public announcements, badly designed flyers and clunky websites which act as information dumps that no-one reads, let alone takes as an invitation to work together. Yet, this is important stuff: we need to talk about the kind of future we want or it be will be decided for us while we look the other way.

via To make our cities inclusive, we need to make them playful again | CityMetric.

You can read about this year’s shortlist and the final winner at the Watershed website.

anthropology · behavior · community · culture · environment · happiness · health

Los Angeles has Cancer — Stephen Corwin on Medium

This is a scathing opinion piece looking at the negative influences of space and place, specifically cars and car culture. Corwin argues passionately against the takeover of cars in to the city space and how it is anything BUT enriching. It is full of examples of what NOT to do, and therefore offers suggestions on how to solve it.

Our experiences driving cars in this city are, for the most part, fleeting. We drive somewhere, we get out of the car, we close the door, and we walk away. But to think that we can escape the world that cars have created as easily as we escape the car itself is foolish. In fact, when we leave our cars, we walk into that world. We have to live in that putrid mess.

Let’s talk about how Los Angeles is a city where construction projects can fence off whole blocks, including the sidewalks, without offering people on foot an alternative. Let’s talk about how when that happens, no one even considers converting one of the two car lanes into a temporary sidewalk, because dear god, that might cause slight inconvenience to people in cars. And let’s talk about how ironic it is that inconveniencing people in cars is the end of the world, but doing the same to people on foot is a non-issue. Then let’s talk about how when frustrated walkers decide to use the car lane rather than take the ridiculous detour, the city’s totally acceptable solution to that problem is not to concede space to those people, but rather to bolt permanent, metal signs into the middle of the sidewalk to keep them from doing so. That is cancer.

read the whole thing via Los Angeles has Cancer — Medium.

It is worth a read.

anthropology · behavior · children · health · learning · play · school

How schools ruined recess — and four things needed to fix it – The Washington Post

I am aghast at how much structure and lack of free play is out there for kids, “for their safety.”

What if we let children fully move their bodies during recess time, let them get dirty, and even test out new theories? What would recess look like then?

The closest I found to doing just that was the Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand. I had heard of its nonconventional, yet successful approach to recess through social media and was instantly intrigued. Since I was already going to be in New Zealand for TimberNook, I decided to meet Swanson’s principal, Bruce McLachlan, in person.

We spent a good hour talking over coffee about his now-famous recess. His recess has gotten international attention, because he did something radical: he got rid of the rules. And guess what? When the rules left, so did their “behavior issues.” He saw more independence, improved creativity, healthy risk-taking, less falling, better coordination, and improved attention in the classroom.

There were four main ways he changed his recess in order to see these improvements. Four things that I happen to successfully use in my program as well to enhance child development and inspire creativity. Think of them as a recipe.

Read the 4 things at How schools ruined recess — and four things needed to fix it – The Washington Post.

I’ll wait…

Ok, so now that you’ve read them (and hopefully the full article later), I totally agree and feel like all of those are missing, but especially space and time. Creating playful spaces and allowing that boredom and downtime is crucial.

 

anthropology · behavior · children · education · health · learning · music · play

To Boost Attendance, Milwaukee Schools Revive Art, Music And Gym : NPR Ed : NPR

This gives me hope:

In the stuffy, little gymnasium at Richard Kluge Elementary in Milwaukee, 16 boys and girls are stretching, jumping and marching to music.

Two years ago, the school had no gym, art or music classes due to budget cuts. But now, Kluge students get a so-called “special” class three days a week.

Milwaukee Public Schools is one of several school systems across the country — including Los Angeles, San Diego and Nashville, Tenn. — that are re-investing in subjects like art and physical education. The Milwaukee school district is hiring new specialty teachers with the hope of attracting more families and boosting academic achievement.Music teacher Angie Dvorak is one of the teachers that’s been effected. Last year, Dvorak was part time and traveled between schools. This year, she’s stays at Kluge all day, teaching music upstairs from the school’s gymnasium.

Dvorak says she’s seen a different in her students: “I get to have them for class more frequently, which is awesome because their music skills are shooting through the roof this year.”

more via To Boost Attendance, Milwaukee Schools Revive Art, Music And Gym : NPR Ed : NPR.

anthropology · behavior · brain · children · community · culture · education · environment · happiness · health · learning · play · psychology · Social

Plug for the NGO Right to Play

I tweeted about this short film yesterday, but I really feel like this is worth giving some space on the blog for.

The value of play is important for teaching life skills like conflict resolution and collaboration, health lessons, healing from trauma, building community and just overall survival as a child and human being, the work this organization does seems simple but is hugely important.

This short video highlights some of the incredible impact that play can have on a child, or group of children.

You can also visit the organization’s website at Right to Play.

Play matters!

 

anthropology · architecture · behavior · community · creativity · culture · environment

The Playful City – Azure Magazine

A great article about how building playful spaces leads to more, and better, play.

Can playgrounds make kids smarter? Yes, say the experts, and landscape architects everywhere are responding. Welcome to outdoor play’s new reality.

All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. Granted, Jack does not lack for innovative toys and gadgets. But what Jack really needs is better playgrounds. These days, reality is exchanged for a simulation of reality, and the sandbox is abandoned in pursuit of the virtual. Cognitive scientists, however, are finding that the unstructured activity children engage in at the playground fosters the social and intellectual abilities they need to succeed in life. Monkey bars and swing sets present opportunities to develop new skills, encourage autonomous thinking and promote flexible problem solving – but they also shape the brain. This is good news. With technology taking over so much of our lives, increased pressure on children to compete academically at a much younger age, and helicopter parenting restricting play for fear of potential danger, many experts – such as David Elkind, psychologist and author of The Hurried Child – are drawing attention to the “reinvention of childhood.” It is time we also reinvent the playground.

more via The Playful City – Azure Magazine.

anthropology · behavior · cognition · work

Inspire Creativity at Work With All 5 of Your Senses | Mashable

Work IS  a fully engrossing experience, so why not enhance all of those experiences?

You’ve probably heard of the debate about whether open offices or the oh-so-dreaded traditional cubicles are better in the workplace. All these discussions revolve around layout and arrangement, but did you know that ambience is equally (if not more) important for inspiring workplace creativity?

If only the interior designer had known that people working in white offices are more likely to complain of nausea and headaches, or that dim lighting jump starts creative freedom, your office might be a much happier place. In fact, the best offices engage all five senses — everything from colors and music to smells and tastes — to maximize your productivity and creativity.

Read the infographic below to decode why your office might be holding you back, and discover small things you can do to unleash your team’s creative powers in no time.

more via Inspire Creativity at Work With All 5 of Your Senses.

anthropology · architecture · behavior · community · culture · design · environment · happiness · health

Gorgeous Viewpoint Platform Invites Busy Londoners to Enjoy the Wildlife of Regents’ Canal | Inhabitat

Gorgeous Viewpoint Platform Invites Busy Londoners to Enjoy the Wildlife of Regents' Canal | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Living in a big city like London, even with parks and trees, it can be hard to find a spot dedicated to just being quiet and taking in nature.

So the Finnish Institute of London, The Architecture Foundation and London Wildlife Trust just unveiled Viewpoint, a floating platform where Londoners can slow down and enjoy Regents’ Canal. Designed by Finnish architects Erkko Aarti, Arto Ollila and Mikki Ristola, this permanent structure serves as a placid retreat for visitors to nearby Camley Street Natural Park and as an outdoor learning environment for school children and adults.

more via Gorgeous Viewpoint Platform Invites Busy Londoners to Enjoy the Wildlife of Regents’ Canal | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Designating spaces as official rest areas is a great way to cue people to actually take breaks, and clue them in to their surroundings, to take a minute to stop and observe.

anthropology · behavior · community · creativity · culture · happiness · play · Social

100 Seriously Fun Ways to Make Your Town More Playful | CommunityMatters

subway swing

Yes, yes, yes! This is so exciting! I love some of these ideas on how to encourage play in your community as a way of creating joy and growing community bonds:

Here’s our list of 75 100 ways that you can start making your city or town a playful place:

Join the CommunityMatters conference call on play and placemaking

  1. Join the CommunityMatters conference call on play and placemaking 
  2. Turn the subway into a swing set 
  3. Munch people with your eyes
  4. Turn your street into a Play Street 
  5. Let sidewalks be trampolines
  6. Play pong with traffic lights
  7. Transform a set of stairs into a piano
  8. Give pedestrians the keys to your city
  9. Host a hummingbirdman rally
  10. Embed games in public seating
  11. Think more like a roller coaster designer
  12. Rethink the public library as a place for play
  13. Start a citywide festival of play
  14. Challenge people to try alternative transportation
  15. Create a local currency, then turn it into a game
  16. Get all ethereal and make a playground in the air
  17. Install a swing just about anywhere
  18. Make a plan for engaging your community in play

see the first 74 via 75 Seriously Fun Ways to Make Your Town More Playful | CommunityMatters.

The other 25 were posted here, and included:

  1. Add cheer to the streets with tiny notes.
  2. Host a temporary tattoo parlor.
  3. Get out on the street with a popcorn machine.  Idea from @wemakegood
  4. Three words: Cardboard Animal Picnic. Inspired by Patrick McDonnell
  5. Stop standing and start sitting with bench bombing.
  6. Install a Givebox Idea from @wanderingzito
  7. Start a bell box mural project.
  8. Conduct pointless surveys.  Idea from @uncustomaryart