Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spotlight, Carol Mancke, London, 2006

Architect Carol Mancke's installation Spotlight was a part of 'Cats Allowed', a one-day event in in a housing estate in east London made by a group of artists, architects and students. The estate is peppered with signs forbidding dogs, ball games, skating, music, etc, and the public realm is essentially unused. The event involved various games that were not explicitly forbidden.

Who would think to explicitly forbid charades (!)  so Carol drew a spotlight using yellow tape on an old brick wall, and left a bucket with poetry snippets in it.  The neighborhood children immediately knew what to do.

photo by Layla Testa; see also Carol's interesting exploration of how art interacts with health and safety regulations.

Monday, August 22, 2011

How To Teach Your Children About Using Their Kids Allowance Effectively

Any adult who practice effective money management is usually learned how to do this when they were children. When teaching your children how to manage their finances effectively it is certainly a good idea to issue them instead.Here are some tips on how to provide your children with the children rather than an effective way....... When issuing and instead of about your children, it is first very important for you to think about how much you are going to pay them at what age would you do that. In most cases you will begin the parents to increase the allowance for their children as we begin to age.

 It is also important to consider your children to do the work you do in order to obtain benefits. Be consistent with how much you pay them, depending on the work they do, consider giving them additional funds if they are willing to put in extra hours.

 Side by side with them instead of children, depending on the work they have done as you need to teach them how to manage their money correctly as well. You need to talk to them about the importance of saving towards financial goals. You should also try to get them interested in various financial concepts that will help them in their future.

 For them to keep their money piggy bank must buy. The Bank should get the finger containing the different booths that will indicate to the funds that can save money and they want to spend, money that they wish to donate, and funds that may want to invest. This will provide them some freedom on what they want really to do with the money they earn through their allowances.

 It is also important that you do not just buy your kids some of the items that you may want and should instead be responsible for making the purchase themselves. Through it will understand the value of savings to achieve specific financial goals. Allowance for children is a great tool to teach children about money.

Henry Mitchell Play Sculpture, Philadelphia, 1955

According to the sculptor's website, this was originally in a playground at Bustleton and Magee streets, and Mitchell did more playground installations in the city, though this is the only photograph I could find.  Any information from my Philadelphia readers?

Also if you haven't stopped by the Forum lately (get there via the header at the top of the blog page), please note a playground internship opportunity, and an interesting query from Michel who is seeking to combine elements of farming and play at an orphanage in Africa.  And New Zealand artist Amy Church is seeking a play internship in another part of the world..."I think that if amazing scenes can be dreamed up for movies and exhibitions why not for playgrounds too."  I so agree!

Thanks to my twitter compatriot Nadia, the list of playground conferences and gatherings has been updated...if you know of others please add to the list.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flying With Kids - Best Flying Tips For Parents

So you want to go on vacation, and its going to take you some time to get to your destination, unless you fly. Why not fly? Flying with kids can be an enjoyable and exciting adventure which is the perfect way to start a family vacation.
Not only do you get to your destination sooner, you don't have to put up with bored kids asking 'are we there yet?'
The only thing to consider when flying with kids, is you need to be clever in your packing. Flying will limit you in what you can take with you, especially if you are on a budget airline.

Whatever you can buy at your destination, simply buy at your destination. That will eliminate nappies and formula for little ones. Of course saying that it is important to have what you need for at least the first 24 hours, so your not frantically looking for a supermarket as soon as you reach your destination.
Let the kids pack a small back pack each with their items they want to take. You can influence their decisions if you need to. Encourage them to think about what they want to do when they are on the plane. Reading, Colouring, there will be something they will love to do.

Snack carts are a great way to entertain the kids, the novelty factor is huge here.
Think about when you want to fly, is that a compatible time for your children. Do you want them to sleep on the plane or will you simply be faced with a tired irritable child. Only you can decide what is best for your family.
HOT TIP: Flying early is the best time of the day to avoid delays. As the day progresses, so will any delays that may occur.

Make sure you check in early, there is plenty to do at the airport to keep your kids entertained. Let them move around and this will stop them from getting as restless on the plane. If you expect them to sit still waiting for the plane, by the time they get on they will have had enough and will be more inclined to get up to mischief.

A great idea for older children, you could set a stop watch with the time it will take to arrive at the destination. This will eliminate them asking 'how long to we get there' and give them more control. Call the travel agent or tourist information centre prior to your flight and have them send you a pack full of brochures and information about your destination. This will certainly keep the kids busy for a while and will help build up the excitement about the vacation and the destination.
Flying with Children, doesn't have to be a terrifying and exhausting experience. Follow our tips to ensure your holiday starts from the minute you leave your front door.

Article Source:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Les Abattoirs de Casablanca Playground, Rietveld Academy DesignLab, April 2011

In April 2011, nineteen students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie/ designLAB designed and realised a playground on the terrain of the Anciens Abattoirs of Casablanca, Morocco...the playground came about in close collaboration with local craftsmen and construction workers. The remains of the playgrounds designed by Aldo van Eyck in Amsterdam served as a starting point. His statement that not the object but the child itself should move was revisited, resulting in five new playing elements. Shaded benches that welcome the parents to the site surround these elements. And a carefully composed master plan studies the way the playground fits within the grid formed by a cluster of heritage buildings. The applied materials and techniques, such as concrete, rope and nets from the fishing harbour, wooden scaffolding beams and metal are locally largely available. Krijn Christiaansen and Cathelijne Montens are public space designers and work as teachers at the designLAB department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. They were responsible for the program, briefing, working method and coaching during this project."

Aldo van Eyck was one of the few people (even today!) to understand the playground as a means not an end.   He would have approved of this playscape as a device to attract mothers and families living in a fragile area into a space where they can experience social services and exchanges.

Part of the brief for this playground included the ability to both repair and reproduce it locally.  Playgrounds that focus on local materials are sometimes lacking in other design qualities, but even with materials limitations the designLab students devised a playscape that is both aesthetically and spatially sophisticated, including a shaded sandbox/forest, a faceted dome, and swing buoys and fishing net towers that reflect local harbour materials. 

See also a press release of the playground project (in French) and a time-lapse video of some of the playground's construction sequence. 

Images by Krijn Christiaansen, Cathelijne Montens, Sophie Krier, Alexander Spiliopoulos via sophie-krier.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Benefits of Kids Sports

The only thing more important than participating in some form of sporting activity, is to get your children to participate in sporting activities.
Enrolling children in competitive sports has many benefits. It can teach so many basic life skills and expose children to safe learning situations, while at the same time ensuring that they get some exercise.

START HEALTHY. All parents know that good habits start young. In today's day and age when the most exercise some children get is of their thumbs - texting their friends at worst, or playing wii sports in their living room at best. The amount of empty calories that the average child consumes cannot compete with the lack of movement. This results in overweight, unhealthy, and ultimately, unhappy children. Encouraging children to attend regular sports activities is one of the best ways to avoid adolescent obesity, and to start your child on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

SELF CONFIDENCE. One of the best ways to encourage self-confidence and self-awareness in children is through participation in competitive sports. Children are given the opportunity to do their part, and take responsibility for their actions. Each child of the team is given their turn to shine, which can be a real eye-opener to a child who may not have had the opportunity to excel in other parts of his life. A child also learns to accept criticism and take opportunities to grow.

TEAM SPIRIT. Children that compete in sports as part of a team have the chance to learn all the skills that go along with team building, such as trust and responsibility. Each child learns to encourage and comfort others as well as receive the same. The team can act as a secondary family to a child who may need extra support from peers. Friends made on the field can become friends for life, providing social stability to children that will last their whole lives. Learning how to cope with disappointments, and how to treat others when they do, are life lessons that will stand by your child for years to come.

FUN. Kids love to play. They love to play with other kids. Supervised, regularly scheduled, sports activities is the way for children to gain all the skills listed above, but above all enjoy themselves at the same time.

Article Source:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vondelpark Playscape, Aldo van Eyck and Carve, 1968 and 2010

I'm traveling again (microscopy and microanalysis conference) so slow posting but in my absence the blog has quietly ticked past one million page views.  Wow, thanks!  Especially since I don't do anything to try to increase the views...I personally find those 'read more' buttons SO annoying.

All celebrations here at playscapes involve Aldo van Eyck, who--if you're just joining us--constructed over 700 playgrounds in Amsterdam after World War II and inspired this blog.   One of those playgrounds was at Vondelpark, where he installed two of his characteristic circular play areas, this time surrounded by extensive garden plantings, in 1968.

To add adventure to the park and extend the age ranges engaged with the playscape the dutch firm Carve added two towers between the van Eyck circles.  The towers offer a range of challenges to children of different ages and abilities--netted interiors, high and low slides and an elevated crawlway.

In another area of the park, Carve added a a challenging 75-meter long canopy walk where platforms and nettings are used to intensify the feeling of vertigo and adventure, and safety surfacing is intentionally minimized in favor of natural wood chips. As the trees in which the walk is embedded grow taller it will disappear into the canopy, becoming in the summer a secret space amongst the leaves.

 I especially love how this playscape respects the history of the park;  even the structure of the towers refers to an adjacent pavilion that was built in 1927 in an Indonesian colonial style.  Lifting the play above the ground not only adds adventure, it also leaves a small footprint that doesn't compromise either the historic van Eyck outlines or the precious open space of this urban park.   Incorporation of  history and sense of place keeps design from being shallow, which is why I feature so much playground history on the blog!  Very well done by Carve, whose innovative outlook on play was one of the first designs featured here on playscapes.

And thanks to all you readers for being one of those million (well, at the time of this writing 1,004,787) page views!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kids Table and Chair Sets Make A Great Addition to Kids Play Room Furniture

Whether it's an extra bedroom, a corner of the living room, or a section of the basement, it's great for kids to have a play room where all of their toys can go. This keeps their rooms clean from clutter and keeps the toys out of the rest of the house. When decorating children's play rooms, it is important to include some kids sized furniture, like kids table and chair sets, rocking chairs and kids play kitchens for them to play with.

Kids table and chair sets make a great addition to kids play rooms. They come in handy when little ones want to draw and color. They provide a sturdy place for them to create their artistic masterpieces when they bring out the markers and crayons. They can also use the kids table and chair sets to do puzzles. They can also be handy for playing board games, cards, play dough, and other craft projects. The kids table and chair sets can also be used to play school on or to do homework on. The possibilities are endless and your little ones will love having kids table and chair sets made just in their size. They also come in a variety of colors and wood finishes to match a wide variety of room d'cor and tastes. Some even are decked out in your favorite professional sports team logos and colors!

Rocking chairs also provide another great play room option. Kids love to rock back and forth and the motion is often comforting to them. They will love the kids rocking chairs that come in just their size. Like mom and dad did to them, they can rock their dolls or stuffed animals in the rocking chairs with them. They can also cuddle up in their rocking chairs with a blanket and read their favorite short story or picture book. Kids can also bring the rocking chairs out in front of the TV and watch their favorite television shows or cartoons while sitting in them. They also come in a wide variety of your children's favorite colors and a wide variety of wooden finished to match your home or room d'cor. Once children are older, they provide a nice area to display stuffed animals, dolls, or a special knit blanket or quilt.

Kids play kitchens are also another great addition for play areas. Your children will love pretending to be chefs at fancy restaurants, waiters and waitresses, or even pretending to be mom and dad cooking for their dolls. With a little imagination and some plastic or wooden play food, kids play kitchens will occupy your little ones for hours. Kids play kitchens come in a variety of sizes with a variety of features to fit both your available space and budget. Your kids can gather up all of their friends and they can have a cook out or play house.

They can even use kids play kitchens to open up their own pretend restaurant. With some menus drawn on construction paper or printed out from the computer, they can cook food and serve it to the awaiting customers, usually mom and dad or older sibling. Kids play kitchens will provide your little ones with lots of indoor fun.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Things-I-wish-I-saw-on-the-playground: Solar Machines

My final slideshow for Dwell is online today:  Mid-century Modern Design on the Playground.  In its honor, here is a design by midmod master Charles Eames that I wish I saw on the playground, via aqua-velvet.

“There is little pertinence in asking what the toy is supposed to do. It is not supposed to do. It is supposed to be. Its whole function is in its being."  In other words, it just plays.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Play Design Competition for Japan Earthquake-damaged Areas

Thanks to playscapes friend Tim Gill for passing on information about a competition to design new chidren's spaces for areas damaged in the Japan Earthquake.  Sponsored by the Association for Children's Environment which is chaired by Mitsuru Senda, the competition is not linked to specific sites and doesn't guarantee construction, but it DOES represent a great place to submit new and innovative ideas about children's play environments.  Spread the word!