Friday, April 29, 2011

Transparency on the playground

Apologies for the radio silence this week...occasionally other demands overtake me!  
Growing up, the science museum in my state had a transparent playground structure that I thought looked like soap bubbles....and which I was reminded of by the amazing sticky-tape spaces constructed by Vienna and Zagreb based architects Numen/For Use.  I'm interested in how the creative use of transparency can heighten the instinctive feeling of vertigo and awareness of the possibility of falling...allowing a space that is quite safe to take on air of risk and the uncanny.  Which of course is far more interesting to children.   

[vintage bubble playground structures from a c. 1970s domus magazine, posted on flickr by leonardo.bonnani]

[photos of the Numen installations are all over the web, these are from source and source]

[search youtube for many more videos of numen's sticky-tape work, including construction of their projects]


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why kids need toys?

Toys are an essential component for every kid's growth. Birthday or important festivals or even on usual days, we need to present kids with toys. However, do you know why kids need toys?

The basic function of toys is to entertain kids. Kids are not mature, sometimes they utterly unjustified sob. At this moment, toys can display the mysterious effect. For example, when a child is crying, he or she will stop if you give her or him an interesting toys such bells or small size plush toys. Certainly, these are for little babies. They also just need some entertainments.

Besides, toys can reduce kids' loneliness and fear. Little kids always like staying or playing with a group of people. However, there must be a time that nobody can accompany the poor kids. For example, the mother has to prepare the supper for the whole family, while his or her father is working and his or her grandparents have gone. At this time, kids need something to accompany them. Kids can play swing or electrical cars in backyard. 
Moreover, these toys can stop these kids make troubles. If there is nothing to catch the attention of kids, they will mess the bedroom or smear the floor or even break some glass cups and so on. Hence, toys can be assistants for parents.

Another important factor is toys can educate kids. For example the cube toys, it can develop kid's talent and make them more intelligent.

However, the most important point is toys can help kids grow up healthily. It is well-known that toys can reduce teenagers' pressure and relax them from the arduous school work. Simultaneously, toys can help kids do exercise and keep away from obesity. For example, an
inflatable bouncer in your backyard can burn kids' excessive energy and make them physically health. certainly, these inflatable toys can totally please kids.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fat Kids Leads to Obesity

Fat Kids is a huge problem in many counties but it is rampant in the United States. Usually child obesity is a result of poor parenting. Parents who are obese themselves tend to have fat kids.
Kids health can be maintained by healthy eating habits and regular exercise, including weight lifting. Parents should really take interest in their kid's health by encouraging them to exercise. Usually, overweight parents also have overweight kids and this is a real shame.

Being overweight is not only unhealthy, but it will also negatively impact the kid's self esteem, confidence, and social life.
Healthy Lifestyle:
I strongly believe in leading a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising regularly. However, I did not have any good male influences when I was growing up so I did not discover the benefits of weightlifting and exercise till I was 23 years old. I really regret not starting a fitness regimen when I was a child. There are also parents who are not fat, but don't pay attention to their kid's diet. They give in to their kid's desire for junkfood, spoiling and fattening their child at the same time.
Role Model:
You as parents should set a good role model for your kids by leading a fit lifestyle. Encouraging your kids to participate in weightlifting and cardiovascular exercises will only lead to benefits later in life.
Parents should be responsible and set a rule when it comes to junk food. Kids tend to have a really strong sweet tooth so it is really up to the parents to regulate the foods that they eat.

Do not worry about weightlifting stunting the growth of your child. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself lifted weights as a child and he stands over 6 feet tall today. Weight lifting builds muscles and strengthens the bones. You would rather have your kid to be known as the buff kid in school rather than a fat kid right? If you have a girl, weight training and exercise will allow her to remain in top shape through the rest of her life. Girls tend to have self image issues regarding their weight, especially in their teens. So developing a fit physique through weight training will help them feel great about themselves.
Imagine the level of confidence and self worth that your kids will have if they regularly weight lift, exercise, and eat healthy.
As great as weightlifting is it can be dangerous if it is done unsupervised. Make sure your kids do not workout by themselves. Always be there when they are in the weight room.
Good Parent:
Be a good parent and encourage your kids to feel great about themselves by showing them the wonders of exercise and weightlifting.

Learning about proper nutrition is crucial for preventing kids from getting fat. Parents should know that not all calories are the same. For example when shopping for breakfast cereal, parents should choose a cereal that is high in fiber, protein, and low in sugar.
What to avoid:
Definitely avoid sugary cereals such as fruit loops, frosted flakes, and cinnamon toast. These types of overly sweet cereals have a huge impact on blood sugar levels and can cause obesity in the long run.

Junk foods:
Pop tarts are also junk and should be avoided. It is made of pure sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead, make your kids eat a nice sandwich made with multi-grain bread with natural peanut butter and jelly.
Peanut butter:
Speaking of peanut butter, please avoid brands that have hydrogenated oils in them. These oils will wreak havoc on you and your kids arteries. Get natural peanut butter instead.
Meal time:
For lunch and dinner, make an effort not to feed your kids fast food such as Mcdonalds, Burger King, Taco bell, etc. These fast foods are high in fat and have preservatives in them. Try to make a healthy homemade meal such as chicken breast served with rice and vegetables or even pasta.

Soda and sweets are also the cause of getting fat. Sodas contain a lot of sugar and corn syrup. If your kid does not want to give up soda, opt for diet soda instead. If your kid is addicted to sweets such as candy and chocolate, you must use a firm hand in breaking this bad habit.
Not only do these sweets contribute to weight gain, but they also cause cavities. Trips to the dentist are not fun so parents should makes sure that their kids don't develop a sweet tooth.

is also a cause of child obesity or fat kids. Some kids like to overeat but parents should make an effort to break this habit. Even if it means taking drastic measures, parents should be responsible and prohibit kids from going to the fridge multiple times.
Just by making simple changes in diet alone, you as parents can prevent fat kids.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Team Building For Kids

When is it the right time to get kids involved in teamwork and what it means to be part of a team? There are many great ways to introduce kids to team building. Use team building games and activities to get kids understanding the meaning of being on a team. There are several ways to do this. Choosing team activities should be done with your team in mind. Gear games towards certain purposes or outcomes. Kids do not take long to catch on and they tend to be very eager learners. Capture their attention with fun, intriguing activities and your team will come together in no time.

Try to find some games that get kids working together on some kind of problem solving. Children can naturally have a shorter attention span than adults so you want to present this type of activity in a fun manner. Create a reward system for teams that are able to work together in order to reach a common goal. When they solve the problem and receive a reward, it gives them initiative to keep working hard and co-operating with the others on their team. The best games are those that require direct interaction between team members.

Organize a game of 20 questions for the kids to play while team building. Draw up a series of cards with different questions on each. Have each child select a card and then ask another the questions from it. It's a great way for the kids to share and discover common interests. Children need to be entertained and social when in a large group. This will lighten the mood considerably and help the quieter team members to come out of their shell.

Have the kids sit in a circle or around a table and share their favorite things. Start with something like movies or books and move on to anything from toys to animals. Sharing interests creates discussion. When you share interests with someone, it is easier to relate to them. Kids ultimately want to be friends with most other kids. Encouraging them to get along socially is always positive. By sharing interests they can form valuable bonds that will serve them as both individuals and as a team.

Organize a scavenger hunt of some kind that requires the kids to work as teams. Give each team a list of items that they must find and a time limit that is the same for all of them. Have a prize for each team regardless of who wins. It is all about having fun and learning to work together to solve a problem or make a discovery.

Have idea sharing time so that the kids can give valuable input they may otherwise keep to themselves. Sometimes encouragement is needed to get people of all ages to open up and contribute without fear. It is even more so with kids. Team building for kids should be fun and positive but also be effective. Teaching kids how to work as a team now will serve them throughout their adult, professional life.

Article Source:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Music Increases Sociability among Kids

It is a well known fact that preoccupation with music in any way creates a more harmonious existence with a better developed character and an enthusiasm for life. Children are very fond of music and they react quite spontaneously when they hear it. Be it a nursery rhyme, a mother's lullaby or any other favorite music, children are sure to perk up their ears with interest.
When you play party music with children gathered together to celebrate a social occasion, you can hardly make them sit for joy. They keep dancing and waving their hands about while trying to follow the lyrics in their own hilarious way. Kids personalized music is a very good means of keeping the children engaged.

Helps Kids To Be More Considerate
Can you imagine a party without music? Music is the soul which keeps every party alive. Needless to say, it develops the sociable skills among kids. Kids get to know other kids and make friends too. An amazing thing has been noticed about young kids when they come under the influence of personalized kids CDs. Even the naughtiest and most disruptive of kids learn to act in a constructive manner. With kids personalized music for company, they become more considerate toward others. They even draw other shy kids into conversation and help sing along to the tune of the music.

Helps Kids To Radiate Confidence
Kids begin to radiate a lot of confidence when they are amongst kids personalized music. The foundations of a true leader are also born here. Kids get ready to lead a team and other kids follow suit. While singing in groups, the kids tend to follow the one who starts singing louder than others. Some kids also arrange their own groups and sing along to the tune of the popular songs in the personalized kids CDs. Hence this music certainly promotes a sense of leadership among the young kids.

Helps Build Friendships
Kids personalized music helps children to be more open in their relationship with their teachers and parents and also build friendship with other kids. It teaches them to be more observant and connect well with their friends. This sense of observation later helps them to differentiate between the good and the bad. It helps them to be better individuals and get to understand their own aim of life and which people can bring good tidings to them. Music thus breeds a sense of kinship among kids and helps their powers of observation.

Helps Overcome Inhibitions
Kids learn to overcome their inhibitions through kids personalized music. Kids make a conscious effort to get to know other kids and thus develop their social skills. Some kids are shyer than others, but when they are playing personalized kids CDs, they get over their diffidence and get motivated to do things which they never did earlier. This may include getting to know other kids better or even singing loudly in a crowd. They even muster up the courage to speak to new kids and make new friends. Kids feel very happy to get over their hidden inhibitions.

Creates Personal Joy
There may have been times when your child may have forgotten his lines out of stage fright. He may have also cried his heart out on being led to the stage without having the confidence of holding onto his mother's fingers. But with kids personalized music, the kids are sure to develop a better confidence level and speak up their lines clearly on the stage. This will also instill a personal joy in him and help him when facing the audience. Thus, personalized kids CDs help in making a child more sociable and become an example for others to follow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Playable sculpture by Robert Tully, Colorado

One of many good thoughts currently percolating around the idea of playable urban space has to do with the role of public art, which judging by my email alot of you are thinking about.   A shift in thinking of public art as something to be interacted with rather than gazed upon could play a significant role in moving the discussion of playable space away from demarcation (this area is a playground, this area is not) towards gradient :  a variety of playable spaces along a spectrum that extends from no-play (obviously say, railroad tracks) to devoted-to-play spaces (playgrounds) , but with all conceivable points in between. 

Reader and London playground chat attendee Lianne sent me the work of Robert Tully with which I'm quite impressed, not least because it so beautifully expresses the history and genius loci of Colorado, but also because it has so many creative, playable ideas from which to learn.

"Tradebeads" (Fort Collins, Colorado, cobblestones strung on stainless steel rods)

"Ripple Effects" (also Fort Collins, playable earthforms reclaiming a former dump site)

"Listening Stones" (Longmont, Colorado, parabolic seat carved into a river boulder to listen to the sound of the water)

"Gather Enough People" (cooperative play also in Longmont, instructions in the form of a riddle lead participants to open the scupture at the top by gathering three or more on the platform)

"Prairie Underground" along the same trail in Longmont lets visitors discover carved grounddwellers...the half-hidden nature of these carvings would delight children.  There need to be more 'hidden' things on playgrounds that can be discovered, over and over again.

"Kestrel's Way", same Longmont trail (I really must visit)--simply bending a standard trail out over a small incline provides a vertiginous experience that children love...the feeling of risk in a still-safe setting.  

"Waterline", same trail, reminds that 'natural playgrounds' must do more than plop down a boulder in some grass and call it good.  Adding a carving provides scope for endless crayon tracings!

"Visions born by this River", Gates Crescent Park by Children's Museum, Denver, uses river boulders with minimal carvings to represent native animals, inviting the children to use their imagination to complete the scene.

"Visions" is one of several dedicated playgrounds by Tully; another is the "Miner's Dream" in Breckenridge, Colorado.   Keeping on this idea of a gradient, I think it is significant that the dedicated playground space is only a part of a collection of eight pieces that form "a landscape based on history of the mining town, nature and imagination. Five pieces are in a playground while three are outside the playground on the plaza and in the river, breaking the usual playground boundary to become an overall sculpture about creating one's future from past materials."  They include "Human Scale," an interactive sculpture,with platforms that people can stand on like a giant miner's balance. Old iron wheels can be turned to move stone animals as counterweights and balance with an adult, and there is also a small "Three-Way Scale," designed for more complex balancing with sand.  "Slide and Steps," is a polished glacial boulder for sliding, and historic narrow guage rails are used as balance beams.  The stone and wood "History House" is sunken so kids can play in the attic, and the "Rock Person" provides the negative space of the human figure.

This has been a long post, but I wanted to include so many of Tully's amazing ideas...inspirational for playscapes everywhere.  All photos and text from Robert Tully's website

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Leonardo's Seesaw

Playful marginalia from the Codex Leicester of Leonardo da Vinci, now owned by Bill Gates.

Playscapes Twitters!

So by now you've probably noticed the new twitter box in the sidebar, hosted by Nadia.  One of the great things about meeting some of my readers at the London playground chat and through the blog birthday is that a couple of people have actually offered to help out, which is fabulous!   Twittering is just something I can't fit into my life at this point, so Nadia, who has just completed an amazing dissertation on the playability of public space for her MSc in Spatial Planning (which will be covered more on the blog later!)  has stepped in to tweet out things that don't quite make it to the blog's front page, or don't fall within my focus on the built environment of play, but are still of interest to playground people...follow @nadiaplayscapes for follow-ups to existing posts, alerts to new topics in the forum, and play-related news!

[image borrowed from Hitchcock's The Birds, which is not a happy scene on the playground but seemed to suit this post...I hope there will be a lively (and not at all sinister) group of playscapers on twitter!]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kindergarten Kekec, Arhitektura Jure Kotnik, Ljubljana Slovenia, 2011


The facade of a building is a tremendous, and often missed, opportunity to create playable space (see an exception, the previously blogged WOS 8).  Slovenian studio Arhitektura Jure Kotnik used rotating vertical shutters, painted in bright colours on one side and plain wood on the other, over a glazed facade for a kindergarten in Ljubljana.  The construction, which could easily be adapted as a playground feature, or part of a fence, used prefabricated wood and was built in just three days.   Absolutely brilliant. 

[via dezeen]

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wikado Playground, 2012 Architecture, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2009

I stumbled on the Baunetz Woche article (now corrected, see below) in doing some background on this playground, which they also featured, but which was originally on landzine.

It reminds me that if I go to work veeery early in the morning (which isn't often) I will pass trucks bearing the flightless wings of giant windmills, ferrying them down to the windfarm being planted in the southwest part of my state.  Here, 2012 Architecture, which emphasises reuse strategies,  has incorporated them into a more playful setting. The windmill wings provide a surprising array of spatial types and happily, even in such an artificial setting water/mud play has been provided for as well.  Their re-use strategy extends to the use of fighter pilot cockpit covers atop the towers, and slides repurposed from the previous playground.

"This playground is designed with 5 windmill wings and the existing trees on site as a starting point. 4 off the 30 meter long polyester wings are cut into towers and laying objects. The composition of these big accessible volumes defines the different areas of the playground. Each tower has its own character: watchtower (with two f-16 cockpits on top) slide-tower (with two reused slides from the old play-garden) water-tower and 'apartment tower. In the 'cage' that is defined by the towers and the nets the kids can play football on a floor made of recycled football shoes. Now the wikado system is developed and can be used to generate any size and kind of playground!"

[read an interview with the playground's creators here]