This large-scale building kit helps kids learn about engineering, architecture, and design through play : TreeHugger

“Rigamajig is not about a finished product. It’s the playful process. The collaborating. The tinkering. The soft and hard skills that are learned while kids are engaged in play. This is what learning can look like!” – Cas HolmanInstead of coming with an instruction booklet that outlines how to build specific contraptions, the guide booklet for teachers, parents, and educators gives tips on how to best utilize Rigamajig for their situation, as well as offering “Play Prompts” to spur children’s imagination.

via This large-scale building kit helps kids learn about engineering, architecture, and design through play : TreeHugger.

Bored Coworkers Recreate Classic Paintings Using Office Supplies | DeMilked

On a lighter note, I am always appreciative of people who maintain a playful attitude and are able to have fun no matter where they are, even at work:

Francesco Fragomeni and Chris Limbrick found themselves bored at Squarespace’s office in NYC one day so they came up with a fun activity. Using only the stuff found in their office, the two coworkers managed to recreate the famous “Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo. They were pretty happy with the results, so they continued recreating iconic paintings, which eventually grew into a project called “Fools Do Art.”Other coworkers started to join into the fun and they began accepting idea submissions from people all around the world. Every recreation, however, has to satisfy two strict rules: it must be made exclusively using things found in the office, and any photo manipulations, if needed, must be made on a smart phone.

Some of these are really creative, and actually a pretty great way to teach people about art (*hint hint school admins*).

Check out all the pics via Bored Coworkers Recreate Classic Paintings Using Office Supplies | DeMilked.

Exercise Boosts Kids Learning

*Begin rant*
Despite numerous studies like the one below, schools keep shortening or removing recess and open-ended, unstructured play from schools. It is ESSENTIAL to the learning process. You need time to THINK in order to LEARN!

I and my fellow play advocates will continue to shout this from the rooftops until every school administrator gets it through their thick skulls that by eliminating free play they are only shooting future generations in the foot and hamstringing themselves from achieving the already ridiculous testing goals designated by people who haven’t been in school since the 1960’s!

*end rant*

ahem

The link below is a summary of a very interesting and insightful study about the cognitive effects of play on children and how it impacts their learning in school. Worth a perusal. Enjoy.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/time_and_learning/2014/09/Exercise-Boosts-Kids-Cognitive-Ability.html

I have not forgotten about you

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to check in and say that I have not abandoned this blog. Life has just sort of been, well, happening lately. With lots of playful moments but also time-consuming, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging. But soon, soon, I will be back to share more about playful moments, enriching environments, and inspirations! I promise.

Scandinavian Future Workspaces Study

Saving this for later…

The Future Workspaces study has been conducted by SB Seating in collaboration with the Norwegian Design Council, under the Design Pilot programme. Together with ethnologist Truls Erik Johnsen and Designit, we have researched and conducted an analysis of a wide range of social trends that would affect the workplace 10 years from now. The purpose of the project has been to create scenarios for future workspaces through user involvement.Users from selected workplaces in Norway & Netherlands were interviewed, and observations of corporate cultures have been made. The developed scenarios provide conceptual directions for the future workspace and serve as useful input for long-term product development and brand strategy.

more via Future Workspaces – About the Study.

In Redesigned Room, Hospital Patients May Feel Better Already – NYTimes.com

I recently had a short stay at a hospital (just some minor surgery), and as I lay in my hospital bed I recall looking out my window at a green canopy of trees planted two stories below. I remember how peaceful and pleasant it was to be able to look out and watch the trees. I also noticed my anxiety went down, I was distracted from my pain, and just overall felt better.

More and more research is coming out that is finding the benefits of incorporating nature and natural environments into the healing process, for everything from surgery to PTSD to dementia, and a variety of other ailments. So it’s great to see hospitals incorporating this knowledge into new building designs as well as therapies.

The University Medical Center of Princeton realized several years ago that it had outgrown its old home and needed a new one. So the management decided to design a mock patient room.Medical staff members and patients were surveyed. Nurses and doctors spent months moving Post-it notes around a model room set up in the old hospital. It was for just one patient, with a big foldout sofa for guests, a view outdoors, a novel drug dispensary and a bathroom positioned just so.

Equipment was installed, possible situations rehearsed. Then real patients were moved in from the surgical unit — hip and knee replacements, mostly — to compare old and new rooms. After months of testing, patients in the model room rated food and nursing care higher than patients in the old rooms did, although the meals and care were the same.

But the real eye-opener was this: Patients also asked for 30 percent less pain medication.

Reduced pain has a cascade effect, hastening recovery and rehabilitation, leading to shorter stays and diminishing not just costs but also the chances for accidents and infections. When the new $523 million, 636,000-square-foot hospital, on a leafy campus, opened here in 2012, the model room became real.

read more via In Redesigned Room, Hospital Patients May Feel Better Already – NYTimes.com.

Letting imagination win – The Washington Post

I am definitely competitive by nature, as well as a game-rule follower, but I also appreciate and value the ability to think beyond the rules and explore “what if?” That is essence is the entire definition of play, questioning, what else can this be used for. It helps brains grow and is also the spark behind science, art, math, and all the other great discoveries. It’s nice to see that other people also understand and appreciate that need to explore and ask “what else does this do?”.

At 8 and 6 years old, my daughter and oldest son prefer to pick out the pawns from board games and use these figures for imaginary role-play rather than play the games themselves. This drives my mother crazy, and not just because the kids also use her antique water bird decoys as super villains.

“Aren’t they a little old for this?” my mother asks, exasperated and reaching under the couch to capture roving tokens from Clue and Monopoly, setting the games back in their proper boxes “for the umpteenth time today!”

The truth is that my children are not too old for it at all. Nor are they too old for those evening song and dance numbers in which anyone over the age of 21 is required to sit in a row, sweaty thigh to sweaty thigh, while the children put on a variety show after little to no rehearsal.

read the entire article at Letting imagination win – The Washington Post.

Folly Forest: From Asphalt to Educational Landscape

scientiste:

A great example of reclaiming asphalt and turning it into a more humane landscape.

Originally posted on The Dirt:

folly1
Browsing through the latest issue of Azure magazine, one can see socially conscious design is making its way even into the far reaches of Winnipeg, Canada. Folly Forest, a great, small project at the Stratchona School, which in a low-income neighborhood, was put together with just $80,000 by local design firm Straub Thurmayr Landscape Architects and Urban Designers.

50-year old asphalt was broken apart so 100 trees could be planted within bright red and yellow-lined star-shaped spaces. Azure tells us: “To add rich texture and provide ground cover for the new plantings, they arranged bricks, logs, and stones inside the bases.”

folly2
There are also “rusty cauldrons” and “silvery wooden beams,” found objects that add an industrial glamor.

The project has deservedly taken home a ton of Canadian design awards. Azure‘s jury gave it a merit award, and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) awarded it a citation

View original 206 more words

Play Doesn’t End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too | NPR

I’ve already shared this article via Twitter, but it is so important that I just had to re-share via my blog. If there was one mantra I would want to be known for it’s that adults need play. Humans need downtime. Humans need breathing room. Humans need play at any age!

A father and daughter try out a public park piano in Seattle, WA

A father and daughter try out a public park piano together in Seattle, WA

Childhood play is essential for brain development. As , time on the playground may be more important than time in the classroom.But playtime doesn’t end when we grow up. Adults need recess too.

The question is, why? To answer this question, Dr. Stuart Brown says we need to clearly define what play is. He’s head of a nonprofit called the National Institute for Play.

“Play is something done for its own sake,” he explains. “It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

So, let’s take gambling, for instance. A poker player who’s enjoying a competitive card game? That’s play, says Brown. A gambling addict whose only goal is to hit the jackpot? Not play.

Brown says that children have a lot to learn from what he calls this “state of being,” including empathy, how to communicate with others, and how to roll with the punches.

read the whole article, including more insight from Stuart Brown, a long-time play research and advocate, via Play Doesn’t End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too : NPR Ed : NPR.

I have met and chatted briefly with Dr. Brown and read his work, and he has done some pretty interesting work on play over the years, using both primary and secondary research (I even cited him in my thesis).

I could easily go on a rant here as to why adult play is so important but so undervalued, but for now just read the article and leave any comments either here or on the actual article’s page.