Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Summer of Play at the Parks

We had a great time taking Imagination Playground and other hands-on fun to Providence city parks this summer, where we engaged 850 kids and family members in unstructured play.  And we saw kids do some pretty amazing things! Staff shared some reflections, favorite moments and observations of the especially creative ways kids used the big blue blocks.

Sarah, AmeriCorps Museum Educator:
Children really remembered Imagination Playground.  When kids from one event showed up at a second event, their excitement was evident:  "I remember these blocks!  This time I'm going to build…!"

I loved watching older children play with younger children.  When something risky was happening such as climbing on a tall stack of blocks or building a bridge to walk across, many times the older children would "safe-proof" the structure before allowing the younger ones to proceed.  It was very sweet.

Alex, AmeriCorps Museum Educator:
It was a blur of happy kids frolicking, whacking, jumping, building and playing. There was a lot of good self-governing. One time, when too many kids tried to fit into a block house, a 4-year-old said, "why don't we try to make it bigger!"

Janice, Executive Director:
One boy (8 or 9) and his friend had a jolly time building for quite awhile and then they invented a new game.  They laid blocks on the ground in a line and walked on them like a bridge. The rule was you could not step on the ground. The last kid had to pick up the last block and pass it forward down the line to the leader who placed it on the ground and everyone moved forward.  The process was repeated over and over, with sometimes great distances between blocks so kids had to really stretch to reach the next one without stepping on the ground. They used the smallest blocks as well as the long ones to create additional step stone challenges.
Other kids joined them.  Eventually almost every kid there was engaged in this game and the line was really long, snaking its way through the previously constructed structures.  All ages played together laughing and cooperating in this game of their own invention.
Megan, Communications Director:
Kids constructed so many wonderful things: a basketball hoop that was used for a lengthy group game, bunk beds and other furniture, a gas station with moveable gas pumps and…
Roller coaster cars
A spa complete with a tanning bed/massage table
An ice cream/lemonade stand
A comfortable combination bed/couch (which the boys decided should be called a "bouch!")
A girl and young boy created an impressive dentist's chair and took turns giving one another a check up.
Two girls used several long curved blocks as the base of a fishing boat and added a stack of wheels to the back to be a fish barrel. Then they made a fishing pole from a noodle and a wheel and headed out to sea!
A group of 7 or 8 kids worked together to build an elaborate car, combining lots of plastic tubes and other loose parts with the blocks. It was a tremendous collaborative effort!
We also brought other activities and loose parts to complement Imagination Playground. Sarah's lively hula hoop games were always a huge hit, and kids constantly invented games of their own.

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