Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rainwater on the Playground - Making Drainage a Play Feature

Learning through Landscapes also produced an insightful report on the Berlin schoolyards, with many great images, including those above.  There's a wealth of inspiration in these schools' tolerance for untidiness, their insistence on sand rather than mulch or safety surfacing,  and the 'reprofiling' of school yards to introduce slopes and's a must-read document.  

One aspect of the report is the use of drainage as a play feature.  When you do hear about playground drainage it's usually as a problem! But these schoolyards consistently see it as opportunity,  channeling the flow with gentle swales and valleys, places kids naturally like to play.   

The water course can take various forms, from an artistic mosaic to a boulder-strewn stream bed.  You can of course add piped-in water to these features, but I like the way using rainwater introduces a seasonality and changeability to the playscape.

Orange Park, London by Planet Earth Ltd

Dahl Playfield, Seattle WA, by siteworkshop

The ever-helpful London Play have produced a document all about playing with rainwater and sustainable drainage strategies with loads of helpful tips and great site examples to inspire your own rainwater playscape.

The flip side of drainage-as-playfeature is that NOT realizing the attractiveness of rainwater channels can inadvertently cause a problem by drawing children into a space that wasn't designed for them, and carries too much water to be safe.  The nice urban drainage scheme of Upton, Northamptonshire (below) is an irresistible playspace and has been adopted as such by children in the community, but this can't be encouraged since it wasn't a planned use.  (thanks to  reader Amy for this information) 

Upton drainage scheme via sustainablecities

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Kids Shoes Haven

In shopping, we all are out for the same thing; quality at the minimal prices possible. Just like adult shoes, kids shoes are essential and form part of our lives as we need to protect our children who are more vulnerable to risks during their play times. Kids get exposed to many dangers as they play, and do many things that contribute to their health and mental growth; most of their activity involved experiments which sometimes can cause harm to their feet. To achieve the best buys you need to consider some tips on the store you wish to do your purchases.

Tips on selecting where to buy your kid's shoes
The first tip on selecting where to buy your children's shoe is to compare the prices. You should visit as many as possible online stores to see what they offer and the prices they peg on individual brands and sizes. The store with the lowest prices and the greatest quality shoes is your choice. Also, you must look at the discounts they offer and the clearance promotions that are in the particular shop so as to cut our shopping expenses.

The second factor that must be checked is the variety offered; the store should have a wide range of kids shoes' brands to choose from as; Startrite, Converse, Lellikelly, Goex Breathes, UGG Australia, Garvalin, Love from Australia, Primigi, Rocosta, Compagnucci, Replay Footwear, IKKS, Crocs, Bellamy, Buckle my shoe London, Noel, Babybotte, Tekilou, Pomodapi, Sketchers, Birkenstock, Richter, Kidorable among many others. This will enable you to choose the one that real suits you kids character and personality.
Thirdly, you need to look at the element of delivery as provided by the shop; the shop should use the top of range delivery services that will not take more than three working days for the shoes to reach you. A shop that offers free efficient delivery can make an ideal option.

In any business customer care level is paramount to its success. The store offering the kids shoes must have the fastest response record for queries made through the phones, emails or live chats. Also how the costumer service staffs respond matters; showing great knowledge and experience is vital to your decision making.
For you to be able to buy kids shoes, converse shoes online you must be able to make payments. The shop should offer different methods of payments as credit and debit cards, pay pal or any other acceptable means that can be used over the internet. The security of the online shop must also be enhanced to deter fraudsters- who are out to steal your identity and later scam you.

How to fit your Kids right
Limitations on variety will restrict you to a slender catalogue where you will be compelled to buy the second best kids shoes you desired-not satisfying! The shop should also categorize the shoes according to their functions and make; you need to be able to select the according to the above in addition to their brands as;
- Long boots for winter
- Casual shoes
- Ankle boots
- School shoes
- Rain wear
- Sandals for indoor and outdoors use
An online shop that combines variety, good pricing, promotions and discounts, many payment options and efficient delivery will be the ideal shop for your kids shoes. Most shops will have some of the mentioned qualities, but only a few have all. So be careful on where you buy your children's shoes; research intensively before hand.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Natural Playground Inspiration from Learning through Landscapes

Two lengthy, but excellent videos from SchoolGrounds UK, a part of UK charity Learning through Landscapes, which promotes outdoor learning and play.  The first highlights natural play spaces at primary schools in Scotland, and is one of the best overall presentations of natural play principals I've seen anywhere.    

The sites feature many classic natural play elements with stumps and stones and landforms, but note particularly the fun the kids are having with the pile of straw easy addition to any play space, and the simple barrel and pipe features for water and sand play seen at 1:57 and 4:49 and 12:20.    And of course that all-important sandpit, the original playground feature, and still one of the best.

The second is an overview of the amazing playgrounds at schools in Berlin...soak in their innovation, their tolerance for fall heights, hidden spaces, and appropriate risk in general.  Note particularly the use of natural drainage for water play (2:37) so that the playground is actually MORE fun in the rain, instead of being rained out!   More about Berlin playscapes later this week.   

Monday, February 20, 2012

Buying Kids Shoes No Child's Play

Like every parent, you want the best for your children and there is no compromise when it comes to their comfort. That's why we look for the best quality products for our kids; be it with clothes or shoes. Because our children are our first priority and we are ready to pay any price for their well-being. However, you should remember that you don't always have to shell out a fortune to buy things for them. Especially when it comes to Kids Shoes you will find many reasonable alternatives.

Your Kids Shoes are important because children keep running around most of the time either on school playground or at home. They have to be protected in cold winters or through the rains, and that means buying appropriate footwear.
There are hundreds of brands in the market that specialize in making children's footwear suitable for different conditions. They come in hundreds of designs, styles, made of myriad materials and in different ranges. Cheap Shoes don't always mean they are bad quality and unsuitable for children. In fact you can get incredible finds in modest budgets.

Points to ponder upon when you buy Kids Shoes are: 
  • Children go through different stages of walking as they grow up. You need to buy footwear that is suitable to these different stages and doesn't hamper their movement in any way. So when you buy footwear for them important factors to consider are their lightness, stability and flexibility.
  • You can go to any shoe shop and buy footwear for your child. But is that all you want? Why not go to a special shoe fitter where they will have many options available for your children? From half sizes to width fitting, your child's comfort will be taken care of in every respect.

  • Don't let aesthetics dictate the kind of footwear you buy for your children. You can find a healthy medium between their attractiveness and comfort; like buying funky shoes with straps.
  • Growing room for your child's feet is crucial. Usually thumb's width is the desirable growing room that will facilitate comfort while walking and also give necessary allowance for the shape of shoe tip.
  • It's advisable to buy shoes that can be done up and unfastened easily.
  • Quality of material used in footwear is also important.
Make sure your kids put their best foot forward

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kids Clothing and Baby Dolls

Selecting clothes for your kids might be very challenging. As you are choosing clothing for your children, it is right choice to take your child together with you. Encourage your child to have her or his own perspectives about the style. They will be very excited and happy when they buy their own clothing. They would be more likely be interested in wearing the clothes frequently. Suitable clothes will make your child adorable and cute. Now there are various styles of child clothes, but some are too mature or revealing for children. As a responsible parent, you should carefully choose the appropriate clothing for your child.

Though you want your children become the fashion vane among his or her peers, you should also consider his or her age. As children have tender skin, they need clothes made of soft materials. Even though clothes or dresses with laces or sequins are popular, you should remove them from your shopping list. Clothes made from 100 percent cotton would be the best choice for your child. Furthermore, you can choose branded clothes for they are not only making your child comfortable but also stylish. Choosing the right party clothes for kids is very important thing that you should do.

One thing that you should consider before you in choosing the party clothes for kids is that you should consider about what party your kids will attend. After you know about this, you are able to choose the right clothes that they are able to wear. In choosing the right party kids clothing, you may need to find information in the magazines or internet. There are many casual party clothes that you are able to wear in attending the casual party. The parents need to get a cloth that will last longer. Don't buy clothes that are out of season. Buy clothes while taking care of cold and hot weather conditions. A summer dress should be flowing and lightweight.

Choosing kids clothing is a very difficult process as you should choose comfortable clothes that basically depend on cotton and similar fabrics. Choosing the right fabrics will help your kid feel comfortable while playing and during the daily activities at school or even while being out, or in a trip. Such important matter of fabrics would drive your search for many types and brands until you settle on one. Many stores also introduce nice home collections for your kids such as velour pajamas, cotton pajamas, shorts, and so on.

The children at the younger ages mostly play with cuddly baby dolls. Cloth baby dolls that can be machine washed are the best pick for this age because they are softest and most durable. Be sure the baby doll you choose does not have parts that can be swallowed if they come off. Boys generally will prefer dolls that are male. There are wide ranges of baby dolls and toys for kids available through online stores at the cheaper price and best quality as well.

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Mirror House Playground Pavilion, MLRP, Copenhagen Denmark, 2011

If you've read the blog for long you know how much I like mirrors and lenses and optical effects (being, by training and inclination, a microscopist) and wish I saw them  more on the playground.  Danish firm MLRP have answered my wishes by covering a utilitarian pavilion next to the Tower Playground with funhouse mirrors of polished stainless steel sheets. They turn the previously bland, graffiti-covered structure into a place to explore perspective and reflection, and laugh at oneself! 

"Instead of a typical closed gable facade, the mirrored gables creates a sympathetic transition between built and landscape and reflects the surrounding park, playground and activity. Windows and doors are integrated in the wood-clad facade behind facade shutters with varied bent mirror panel effects. At night the shutters are closed making the building anonymous. During the day the building opens up, attracting the children who enjoy seeing themselves transformed in all directions.

With simple means it has succeeded to transform an existing, sad and anonymous building to a unique and respectful installation in the newly renovated park. The roof and facade is clad with heat-modified sustainable wood and the gables and shutters are clad with mirror polished stainless steel. The Mirror House is a flexible space and restrooms, used by kindergarten classes."

[Images by Laura Stamer, via MLRP.  See the mirror house project on the MLRP website for more details; and thanks to several readers who submitted this] 

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Roof Party Playground by Monstrum


Its official name is Tårnlegepladsen / The Tower Playground, but I like the idea of a roof party...Denmark's Monstrum has struck again, this time with a playground that takes the notable towers and rooftops of Copenhagen and brings them down to the ground, at kid-scale.  Delightful to anyone who has gazed at a tower, way up high, and wondered what it would be like to be up there.

There's the roof of the stock exchange, and the city hall, the round tower, the dome of the Marble Church and the spiral tower of Our Savior's.  A brilliant encapsulation of history, urban context, and imagination.

[All photos via Monstrum.  See the previous post on Monstrum's playscapes here]

Kids Toys - The Joy Of Your Children

Kids are the biggest treasure of God to the parents. They are the most important members of the family. So taking care of them and their happiness is also very important. Happiness of their kids should be the first priority of parents. Kids are most happy when they are at play, while playing they enjoy their life and are out of everything in the world. They live in a world that is full of joys and their play.
Kids toys are one of the most important elements of their play. Toys are object use by kids to play. When it comes to growing up kids and teaching them about the world around us toys play a very important role. Playing with toys prepares the kids for their social role. Kids toys provide entertainment to the kids while also teaching them about different things. They have to develop the mental and physical skills of kids, which are very important in future as kids have to face the world and understand it.

Kids toys are found in many different forms. They may be representatives of dolls, animals, infants, and soldiers or of tools. Kids get entertained by playing with them as they think of them as if they are real and those living in the world the kids want them to. Kids toys also include different types of vehicles like cars, buses, motorbikes, airplanes, trains and trucks etc. Kids from ancient times are playing with such toys before there were two-wheeled carts but nowadays there are military vehicles, toy boats etc created by different companies like Hot Wheels, Matchbox etc. There are a huge variety of kids' toys available in the market giving each individual a chance to choose the one of their own choice.
Kids toys also exist in the shape of puzzles. Actually a puzzle is a problem that challenges humans' ability of applying ideas to solve a problem. To solve a puzzle you may have to recognize a pattern or crate a particular order. The children with good deductive skills are able to solve puzzles easily and faster then other children.

In some cases kids are interested in just collecting different toys to have a complete collection such as action figure, cartoon characters, lonely tones, mego dolls, teddy bears, strawberry short cake, super heroes, bobble heads, universal monsters, Simpson's, Popeye weebles, transformers etc. The most used and famous collectible toys are Barbie, matchbox car, toy gun, tow sewing machine and many more.
There are many famous toys shops in the world as its branches are spread over different parts of the world. It is the largest toys store all over the world.. All types of toys are available in this store and thus it is also the favorite shop of all kids because kids love shopping for new and different toys and this shop provides all the favorite and best toys for the kids.

With time and new technology new toys are created every year according to the needs and demands of the kids. Kids toys are ranked according to their fun and creativity. The top ten Kids toys for 2010-2011 are:
1. Sing-A-Ma-Jigs
2. My Pillow Pets for Kids
3. Nerf N-Strike Stampede ECS Blaster
4. LEGO Harry Potter Sets
5. Squinkies Kids Collectible Toys

6. Cuponk Kids Games
7. Leapfrog Leapster Explorer Learning System for Kids
8. Fisher Price Lil Zoomers Spinnin Sounds Speedway for Kids
9. Fisher Price Imaginext Bigfoot the Monster
10. Disney Princess and Me Dolls

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Social Sculpture - Playgrounds formed by Players

This idea of social sculpture--works of art that take place in the social realm and require social engagement for their realization--originated with artist and sculptor Josef Beuys in the 1960s and 1970s and has real relevance for how playgrounds were conceived in that time period.   The revitalization of his ideas in the virtual realm of social media means they are also trending to influence the physical environment of the playground again.  

the beginning of Beuys' 7000 Oaks installation via the tate collection

Beuys' definition of social sculpture was more philosophical than, say, Superblue's Giant Knitting Nancy (below), which is nonetheless its intellectual descendent.  Beuys was thinking grandly, about society itself as a giant work of art in which any one person's action changes--'sculpts'--the whole.  He famously insisted that "everyone is an artist" (I often wonder whether those who incessantly refer to themselves as 'creatives' were asleep the day they covered Beuys in design school or if they just don't agree!) and social media has now made his concept self-evident beyond his wildest dreams.

I thought of Beuys this week, during my first experience with jury duty, when a fellow panelist was removed from the courtroom for trying to surreptitiously use her cellphone to photograph herself.  In the jury box.  So she could post it on Facebook.

It reminded me of Beuys because his ideas have taken on a new relevance within social media, with those who ponder how individuals craft their virtual space:  the 'museum of me', if you will, to which my fellow juror was apparently trying to contribute.  Beuys did create tangible, physical works of art, but in spite of the utopianism of his ideals it was deeply introverted; as insulating and insular as the felt he often used as a medium.  And not at all playful. 

But around the same time period artist Allan Kaprow tied the idea of social art creation explicitly to play.   His Happenings of the late 1950s to early 1970s, though inherently temporary, were defined as "A game, an adventure, a number of activities engaged in by participants for the sake of playing”  and some of these, in vintage photos, can still be read as playgrounds or something like. 





You may be wondering where I'm going with this.  But I don't think it's a coincidence that the adventure playground--the fullest realization before or since of social sculpture in space for play--had its heyday at the same time that these ideas did.   

from the Children's Play Information service archive

Historians are tempted to make too much of the linear transmission of ideas, to seek to draw orderly lines from one thought-leader to the next, to show ideas building neatly one on another like blocks.

But it is always messier than that, and what is more difficult to trace (and therefore write scholarly articles about) is the effect of concepts that are percolating in the wider culture in a variety of places and with a variety of people; part of the bloodstream, the zeitgeist, the idea ecosystem, but no less powerful for being less definable.

half of the pieces of Michael Grossert's 1971 play sculpture could be moved and stacked at will

So I went back through my old posts and my personal archives of play spaces looking for elements of social sculpting, and they were nearly always from the 1960s and 1970s....or from today.   I think today's playground environment, in keeping with wider cultural trends, is going to move once again towards social, but this time as well towards self, construction.  

So, you proponents of adventure playgrounds fondly reminiscing about the seventies (hello, Greenwich conference attendees!) have reason to hope.  

Do you know of more examples of social sculpture on the playground, readers?  I'm interested in how you think the playgrounds of the future could be socially, or self, constructed in new ways. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kids Room Decorations

When it comes to kids room decorations we have to start with floor coverings. It doesn't matter which room you are furnishing you always want to start with the floor and wall first, then move on to the other objects that should be placed in the room. Installing carpets can be done by pretty much any home worker who either had experience or not. If you are entirely new to this area of home-working you definitely want to consider accepting help from others.

Wood paneling is a great choice for any room, and also adds a lot of value to the floor, and later on the way you can and will design accessories. What you should keep in mind when it comes to kids room decorations is the whole style that this place should give in return. Make and design this room light and don't go with darker colors. A lighter room color and floor simply gives more energy and friendliness then a darker room could ever do. Other options would be laminate flooring and hard wood flooring.

Because we are talking about kids rooms you want to go with shelves rather than toy boxes or something similar. Shelves simple offer better conditions later on when your kids will become older, and you won't have to invest more money into furnishing in general.

When your kids are going to high school you also have to calculate that they will need a place to study. Install a nice and appropriate table somewhere in the room with enough space for your kids to work comfortably. This is an important part of decorating a room, because decoration should also make an environment friendly, and also easy to be productive. Lightening plays also a part when it comes to working in the afternoon or at night. You always want to add lamps and install proper lightening above a desk or above the middle of the room so that it can give optimal light for the whole room. Another object that has to be installed is curtains in any color. However, note that you have to choose similar and related colors that you used for the entire room so far. Curtains should be washable, and if not you only want to buy a kind that is marked with the sign "machine washable".
You can also add posters for kids room decorations which can be individually selected by your children.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

More Playful Knitting: Giant Knitting Nancy, Superblue Design, London, 2010

For those of you who loved the post about Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam's crochet playground  here is a Giant Knitting Nancy constructed by Superblue Design in collaboration with Dan Preston (Sculptor) and Holly Packer (Jewelery Designer) for the London Festival of Architecture in 2010. 

Inspired by the knitting toy of the same name, Superblue's vision was to allow visitors to participate in the making of the installation and over the weeks of the festival more than one hundred people added dozens of meters to the structure.

My one disappointment is that this was viewed more as a piece for sitting than for playing, though I suppose that's up to the visitors, who seem to be generally above the target age of playgrounds.  But I'd love to see this in a children's play space; it was, in fact, subsequently installed on the beach at Margate, where it was popular for picnics. 

There are also some great additional pictures of Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam's Woods of Net playsculpture  here, for more textile-art-on-the-playground inspiration.