Friday, October 21, 2011

The Universal Power of Play

Boy with car, credit: ChildFund International
A tin can truck, a jump rope braided from colorful plastic bags, and a well-worn shoe turned into a car – Providence Children’s Museum has welcomed a wonderful collection of child-created toys to the display cases in our atrium walkway and lobby. The charming playthings poignantly illustrate children’s creativity and inventiveness and the universal importance of play in children’s development.

The toys are a selection from The Power to Play: From Trash to Treasure, a traveling exhibition of more than 350 pieces collected by ChildFund International, a global child development and protection agency. The collection has been featured in National Geographic magazine and displayed at National Geographic’s Explorers Hall in Washington D.C. Former AmeriCorps Museum Educator Bonnie Schultz Platzer curated the display at the Museum.

The toys were crafted in countries including India, Brazil, Ethiopia and the United States and range from dolls, games and musical instruments to a variety of things that float, roll and fly. They were constructed from materials and objects found around children’s homes and villages – bottle caps, twigs, discarded containers and cardboard, old flip-flops, fabric scraps and bits of wood, wire and string – and demonstrate that simple everyday materials make wonderful playthings.

Each toy has a story. Some are unique to their place of origin, some reflect the challenging social, economic and political conditions faced in children’s countries, and others are universal, like balls and kites made in different places using exactly the same techniques. None were made for sale; each came about because a child had the inspiration, the materials and the need to play. Together, the toys demonstrate children’s creativity, resiliency and enduring spirit and evoke powerful personal reflections and vivid memories of play.

Providence Children’s Museum actively advocates for and celebrates the power of children’s play; this display provides a compelling way to share that message. “Some of the toys are so intricate and detailed, you can see the children as engineers, figuring out how an axle works so their truck can really move,” said Museum Exhibits Director Robin Meisner. “To show children’s work that represents cultures from all over the world – and work that is incredibly well designed and functional – demonstrates kids’ creativity and ingenuity.”

Visitors of all ages delight in the details of the designs and the creative use of materials. They’re also invited to join a materials hunt and share how they make their own toys, encouraging reflection on and conversation about the common bond children share in their need for play and the ability to create their own playthings.

The toys will be on view through February 26, 2012; click here to learn more about the exhibit from ChildFund International.

No comments: