Cardboard Play Day at Kujira Yama

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This Friday the adventure playground Play Park will be hosting us for a “Cardboard Play Day” to celebrate the Global Cardboard Challenge. We’re praying for sun, since a rain day will mean re-scheduling, but either way preparations are in the works for an amazing day.

Cardboard Play Day with The Cardboard Collective

Play Park is part of an incredible, volunteer supported NGO (NPO) called Asobiba that operates a variety of permanent and temporary adventure playgrounds throughout Tokyo. I’m so excited to work with them and hope to bring cardboard play into their adventure play repertoire in the future!

Cardboard Play Day with The Cardboard Collective

If you’re free, and you’re in Tokyo, please join us!

武蔵野公園  クジラ山

Location: Musashino Park’s Whale Mountain
プレー  パーク
October 4, 2013
2013年 10月 4日
FREE 無料
12pm-5pm 午前12時 – 午後5時
Rainy Day = canceled
雨降りの日 = 取消

 

Loose Parts Play & Cardboard Totem Boxes

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When I released the Totem Box pattern a few weeks ago,  I alluded to the fact that this was a design that I used to manage the “little” toys in our house, but the thought behind the design goes a little deeper.

Quite a few months ago, I made an online friend named Allie who writes the blog, Bakers and Astronauts (as well as Play Lab). Allie’s blog is hands down my favorite website about early childhood and inspired play, and it was Allie who first introduced me to the Theory of Loose Parts, which got me exploring with my own children.

“The Theory of Loose Parts Play” was proposed by Simon Nicholson back in the 1970’s. His theory is this: “In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.”

When I started thinking about adapting Loose Parts Play inside my home, there were  a few things to rethink. First of all when Nicholson speaks about number and kind of variables, I think he ultimately takes his inspiration from one place, and one place only; the truly wild outdoors. Outside loose parts can fall from the sky, be dug from the ground, plucked from a branch, or drop from a bird’s wing. The sounds, textures, and  smells are all ever-changing and we could never, ever recreate such an amazing sensory experience  inside a house, even with dump trucks of glitter.

I had to watch my daughters play a lot to better understand how I could compete with mother nature and increase the number of “variables” (not necessarily the amount of stuff) within our home play environment. Over time, I noticed three categories of objects emerge that they “needed” to make their play more cohesive:

Loose Parts: hand-held objects that assume imagined identities through play.

Containers: objects used by my daughters for collecting, sorting and transporting loose parts as well as defining small spaces.

Expandable Parts: objects used by my daughters to construct and define large spaces

Now, whenever my daughters engage in loose-parts-style play, I try to make sure that all of these elements are available to them. When they are absent, tragic things have happened. Entire shelves of puzzles have been mined for loose parts, fabric and sewing notions have gone missing and Loose Parts Play has ravaged my home like a wildfire, consuming hours of my time in little loose parts cleanup. Although these ideas are only my own expansion on someone else’s theory, so far they have proven true for our sample size of two. I’m curious to hear about your observations. What drives the loose parts engine in your home or classroom?

Enjoy our family recipe for Loose Parts Play (indoors):

(Substitute as necessary)

Loose Parts
wooden blocks
plastic construction blocks
plastic bottle caps
acorns
shells
stones
cardboard tubes
clothespins
handkerchiefs
fabric scraps
stones
coins

Containers                                                                                                                    Sorting
Totem Boxes
egg cartons
cardboard fruit trays
graduated boxes

Transporting
small paper bags
child sized buckets
baskets
boxes

Collecting
nesting eggs (wooden or plastic)
Matryoshka dolls
jewelry boxes
matchboxes
small recycled plastic jars
small tins with lids

    Expandable Parts                                                                                                          Textiles
large scarves
large fabric pieces
tissue paper
newspaper
softened Kraft paper
child-sized carpets or rugs
blankets

“Fences”
cushions
interlocking cardboard pieces
over-sized, lightweight blocks,
Hula Hoops
jump ropes
long, lightweight cardboard tubes
fold-up cardboard screens

Cardboard Play Day at Musashino Place

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

A few photos from our first ever, open-to-the-Tokyo-public, cardboard pop-up play day.

We ran the event with just recycled cardboard, a few tools, bike power, and creative spirit.

Neighboring Ito Yokado kindly helped us bring many beautiful boxes over from their store (including the fantastic red stuff which was left over from New Year’s postcard displays) and MakeDo pieces were lent to us by the American School of Japan.

The Cardboard Collective

We assembled these incredible Wind-balls prior to the play day, with Tanaka Satoshi’s design plans that you can get here. Just plain fun. We’ve now got the smaller one up as a lampshade in the girls’ room and it’s gorgeous.

The Cardboard Collective

The highlight of the day was seeing parents and children building together. Once my Japanese teacher helped me to write a sign in Japanese inviting everyone to play freely, they all started getting to it. Little houses, castles, tunnels, trains and forts….it’s all poetry to me.

The Cardboard Collective

The Cardboard Collective

The same box on wheels that I made about 8 months ago (and flew back and forth from the US with) withstood countless laps on the concrete around the grass patch. I’m thinking we could do a great pop-up based on these alone….where to reclaim some old wheels????

The Cardboard Collective

Thanks to my friends from MIA, my husband (who even made dinner after we got home) and Chris B of a small lab for coming out, bearing the cold, taking pictures (many of which you see here) and wrangling cardboard with us at the end. A true labor of cardboard love! I really appreciate your support.

I’m looking forward to hosting more pop-ups and play days in 2013 so stay tuned for more info on where we’ll be next…

….of course I hope you’ll consider having a few cardboard pop-ups in your own home in the meantime?