Cardboard Play Day at Kujira Yama (#6)

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Cardboard Kryptonite!
We had light rain just after our event was set up for The Global Cardboard Challenge on Friday.  Sadly, most of the kids we anticipated didn’t show up. We didn’t lose heart though, and a few brave souls trickled in after the weather cleared to inhabit the cardboard dwellings that were created. As always, it was great fun and I couldn’t have done it without my husband’s help, or the wonderful folks that run the play park adventure playground.

I had such a great time this year getting to know the folks at The Imagination Foundation, as well as other Cardboard Challenge organizers from around the world. This year there were more than 43 countries represented and 100,000 kids at the Global Cardboard Play Day. If you’ve ever thought about planning an event for your community next year, be sure to visit Caine’s Arcade to find out more. You can be part of this amazing and inspiring cardboard movement!

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

 

10 Tips for Cardboard Play Day

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The Global Cardboard Challenge is here again! Will you be joining THE WORLD on October 5th, 2014 to either play or host an event?

For everything Caine’s Arcade and The Global Day of Play, please be sure to check out The Imagination Foundation’s excellent website and resources. 

I’m also excited to be planning my own event in collaboration with a local adventure playground here in Tokyo! More information to come, but until then I want to share some of my insights from hosting 5+ events last year…….

 *10 Tips for Cardboard Play Day*

1. It’s all about the cardboard!

  • Provide a wide variety of cardboard! Shoe boxes, small boxes, over-sized boxes, cardboard tubes, and whatever other reclaimed materials you’ve collected all add to the diversity and creativity of what kids create.
  • A rule of thumb that I follow is 1 square meter of cardboard for every 20-30 kids

2. Don’t let cardboard get unruly.

  • Cardboard + kids can = chaos!
  • Keep the cardboard upright if you can (as if each piece were a book on a book shelf.) That way there is thought in selecting the cardboard and it doesn’t get kicked around and stepped on.
  • It’s even more helpful to organize your cardboard by size. (Think of a lumber yard.) Kids often know what size materials they need and if the cardboard is organized then kids won’t have to spend time rooting around through big piles to get what they want.

3. Give them tool boxes.

  • Tool boxes allow kids to be mobile and have everything they need to build whatever, wherever, with whoever.
  • A tool box can be as simple as a shoe box, or a cardboard six pack.
  • Provide a place that is clearly marked for kids to return tool boxes when they’re finished working or ready to leave the play day.

4. Provide a secure area for kids to keep their stuff (i.e. coat check).

  • Kids easily loose track of their new friendship bracelet, cell phone, hooded sweatshirt, etc.
  • Create a place (as simple as a “drop” pile), or even better an informal system like a coat check, for keeping track of kids’ things so they can focus on building and collaborating with their friends, and you can alleviate the hassle of having to help them search for their lost items.

5. Keep the organizer free.

  • If you are organizing a cardboard play day, recruit enough parent volunteers to assist kids so you’re free to trouble shoot any problems that might pop up.
  • Parents get excited and often want to share or ask questions. If you’re responsibility is to supervise kids, you may be torn between providing adequate supervision and having a great conversation with a future cardboard enthusiast.
  • It’s also helpful to have a volunteer that is solely devoted to taking photos so you have some great shots for promoting your event next year.

6. Provide a theme/give permission

  • Telling kids that they can build whatever they want is exhilarating for some and overwhelming for others.
  • Providing a theme a invites collaboration and helps kids narrow their focus….
  • We’re building a village….
  • We’re building igloos….
  • We’re building a cardboard maze….
  • We’re making cardboard costumes….
  • We’re making an arcade….
  • It’s a cardboard ocean!
  • Some kids need permission to create and many just want to be told it’s OK to be creative and let loose. Indulge them! This is their time to think big and we want to encourage them in any way we can.

7. Give kids real tools.

  • It’s important to gauge your audience, (parents kids and the host institution) when deciding what kind of tools you’re going to make available to participants. I prefer to always give kids “real tools” as opposed to dumbed down versions that can cause frustration. In the real world, however that’s not always possible.
  • If kids are only allowed to use safety scissors and plastic saws, try arming your adult volunteers with more professional tools that can help finish the job. These are the tools I’ve found to be most effective and in my opinion entirely kid-friendly, but they require instruction and adult supervision:
  • round tipped serrated cutting tool
  • Phillips head screw driver
  • scissors
  • cordless drill

8. Use reusable fasteners.

  • To build really cool, big stuff out of cardboard you need some kind of fastener to hold everything together. (tape and hot glue just don’t cut it!) There are 3 that stand out in my opinion, based on their re-usability AND functionality.
  • MakeDo
  • re-usable zip ties
  • nuts and bolts
  • All of these fasteners have different price points and advantages and disadvantages, so I really recommend getting a few of each and test driving them at home before your event.
  • It’s really helpful to show participants how the fastener you’re using works when kids arrive, so keep some supplies in your pocket to quickly demonstrate as you greet new arrivals.

9. Have an exit strategy.

  • Sometimes kids are so excited at cardboard play day, they can’t stop building! Givie kids a heads-up starting 30 minutes before cleanup, so they can get focused on completion and get ready to say goodbye to their creations.
  • Make sure you have a plan for recycling your cardboard. I was once left in a terrible position at a play day, when the organization that donated the cardboard said they could no longer take it back! I had to haul it all back to my home by bike and then put it out for recycling over a course of several weeks!
  • If you haven’t prearranged volunteers for cleaning up and bundling cardboard at the end of your event, a clipboard signup is handy when participants arrive and usually provides you with enough hands to finish the job.

10. Get feedback.

  • This is something new I’m hoping to try this year; a one sentence question for kids as they’re cleaning up or heading out…. you  could also try a paper-pencil survey or even a simple high five?
  • What would you build next time?
  • Is it more fun to work by yourself, with your mom and dad, or with a friend?
  • What was the best part about today?
  • Have you ever made/built something like this? Why/Why not?
  • See you next year?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DIY Cardboard Camera

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DIY Cardboard Camera by Amber

There are so many adorable ideas for cardboard cameras on the internet, but this one comes from the first post I ever published on The Cardboard Collective about cardboard beads. When I got my new camera, I had the paper camera brochure left over, and glued it to some cardboard. We strung it with some cardboard beads on paper twine to make one of the more popular items in the girl’s jewelery box.

DIY Cardboard Camera by Amber

Recently I joined up with about 15 other mothers from my daughter’s yochien (Japanese preschool) and we made cardboard camera necklaces for all the kids at her school. The cameras were a prize from our fishing booth at the summer festival.

It was SO fun to see the kids snapping photos of each other. Since most of the parents were also walking around with their cameras slung around their necks, there was the slight excited air of a press conference announcing the magic of summer; more kiddie pools and popsicles to come….

DIY Cardboard Camera by Amber

Some of the kids know I helped make the cardboard cameras, so it was cute when they pretended to take my picture. A sweet way of trying to communicate and be playful with me. Of course I love kids AND cardboard, so I was pretty smitten the entire day.

DIY Cardboard Camera by Amber

Say “チーズ!”

Beautiful DIY Cardboard Storage is HERE!

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Cardboard Totem Boxes: pattern and video tutorial https://www.etsy.com/listing/152961516/cardboard-totem-boxes-pattern-and-video?ref=shop_home_active

Cardboard Totem Boxes: pattern and video tutorial https://www.etsy.com/listing/152961516/cardboard-totem-boxes-pattern-and-video?ref=shop_home_active

Cardboard Totem Boxes: pattern and video tutorial https://www.etsy.com/listing/152961516/cardboard-totem-boxes-pattern-and-video?ref=shop_home_active

All I can say, is it’s a great feeling to start with an idea, work with it for more than 6 months, and get to this place.

I’m so excited to share this pattern with you! It started basically as a way to solve a problem I was having:
How do I organize my kid’s toys? (the little ones)
which led to other problems:
How can I make something that’s just right for them?
How can I make it out of cardboard?
How can I make it strong?
How can I make it recyclable?
How can I make it beautiful?
Well, curiosity can lead you down a long and winding path.
Mine included a re-acquaintance with high school geometry, learning more about photography and lighting, the search for affordable copyright free music, video editing, cardboard sourcing, explorations in color and pattern (ultimately inspired by the divine Japanese kimono), tool and material testing and lots and lots of watching kids play (the best part)!
I ended up with Totem Boxes.

A set of sculptural stacking boxes (the base of one box fits the top of another) that double as a nightstand, stool, ottoman or table and stool set for children. You can leave them plain, or decoupage them with decorative paper.

What do you do with them?

Put your favorite stuff inside. Yarn, yo-yos, matchbox cars and trucks, Legos, rubber stamps, fancy hats, scarves, alphabet magnets, musical instruments, play-dough, cookie cutters, wooden blocks…

I don’t exactly understand the magic, but my kids love cleaning up with the Totem Boxes. They make sorting the toys like another way to play.  You can easily move the boxes to where the mess is because they are modular, and then stack them up as you go. They look good sitting in the corner of your room, if you do nothing else. To me, they are functional sculpture.

And they’re not just for kids. Someday when I’m a knitter, I’m going to make a set with a hole on the side for the yarn to feed out while I knit. I’ll prop up my heels on the boxes as I relax and make gorgeous socks….

But are they durable enough for kids to use?

Months of testing and strength to support the sitting weight of a 150lb. adult makes me say YES.

What do I need to make them?

You will need lots of strong cardboard (like the kind that banana boxes or diaper boxes are made out of) and basic supplies like a pencil, white glue, a metal ruler, binder clips or clothespins and a utility knife. You will also need access to the internet, a computer and a printer to print out your pattern pieces and directions.

How long does it take?

Anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour for the first box, but after making about 20 of them, I’ve got it down to about 30 minutes a box (without decoupage). Best thought of as a weekend project. Say, if you wanted to make an amazing gift for your 2-5 year old niece or nephew’s birthday.

Where can I buy the pattern?

The pattern costs $12 and is currently available in my Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/cardboardcollect

It includes instructional PDFs in US Standard and Metric with written directions and a pictorial guide with links to 3 original video tutorials. The elementary school teacher in me did my best to appeal to audio and visual learners, so if you get frustrated by traditional patterns, fear not.

Nest Building with Kraft Paper

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nest building with children play open ended

Spring is in the air here in Tokyo and we’ve been blessed with more than a week of beautiful 60 degree days. While out spotting Ume blossoms, we’ve been watching lots of birds, and talking a lot about nest building. I’m totally fascinated with all kinds of animal (and people) homes, so I’ve been thinking about how we could make a nest that the girls could build, add to, and alter.

Last week I did some Spring cardboard cleaning and stumbled across some Kraft paper that I had fished out of a neighbor’s recycling some time ago. Kraft paper (the base material for cardboard) works great for this project, but you could also use large sheets of newspaper, or if you’re a teacher try used, crumpled bulletin board paper.

The Cardboard Collective

I let the girls work with the Kraft paper to build the nest shape and showed them how to use the screwdriver to push the ribbon through the paper.

They were not strong enough to puncture the paper on their own, so in the end I had to help them secure the sides….maybe in a few years they’ll be independent young nest builders!

Open Play

We watched a few BBC videos to show the girls how birds use different materials in their nests. They were inspired to add ribbons, play scarves, and lots of junky little things from around the house to the nest before they climbed in with a few good books.

Open Play

I recommend building the nest on some kind of platform. We made ours from pineapple and banana boxes.  There must be some kind of technical term for the fun factor that comes from elevating a play structure… the bird’s definitely know what I’m talking about.

Enjoy Mr. Attenborough with your cup of tea…….

 

Cardboard Play Days 4&5

This week was filled with lots of play, lots of cardboard, and lots of discovery. I learned a lot by watching children and parents play and build together during the two events that took place.

The first was a play event for my daughter’s Yoji group, a play group that meets weekly at the local Jidokan (a kind of youth community center). The other was at a local park called Kajino Koen. The Kahjino event hosted lots of local groups that support the park, like Play Park: a local adventure play organization that facilitates weekly play events for children.

Play Park built an amazingly tall and steep wooden slide with wooden handholds, as well as over-sized hammocks, rope walkways, and braided swings. I’m in love with the work that they do and I’m hoping to deepen my relationship with their community in the coming year.

A few things I learned this week:

  • Crayons (bright, waxy pastel ones) play really nicely with cardboard. Markers wander, and paint is a pain to clean up.
  • Parents love to play like children. Children give them a great cover for indulging in the kind of play that they used to do…. and at the same time children fall in love with their parents all over again. There is an amazing playful connection that Is kindled, and when I see parents leave cardboard events smiling, I know an imaginative little fire has been lit and will grow into something more.
  • pre-teen boys like to kick cardboard boxes and stab them with screw drivers. At first I bristle, and then I watch for a while and see the totally therapeutic effect of this activity for them. They calm down, start talking to each other and then start to cooperate and build. Cardboard stabbing boys, I welcome you, and I love to see the amazing things you can build with cardboard.
  • Girls can bring a quiet measured intensity to building with cardboard. I love watching them deliberate while considering all the details like widows and shelving…their excitement is contagious.
  • I love connecting with people through cardboard, seeing parents build something for their children, seeing children build something else for themselves, watching three year olds rip their older brothers around in the back of wheelie cardboard boxes.
  • What can I say? I’m hooked.

Resources: How to put wheels on a box and instructions for Tanaka Satoshi’s Giant Cardboard Windballs

A Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Note to readers: Washi tape has since been removed from the toolbox (only to be rein-listed with parental supervision (full focus parental supervision)).

As a family of makers, a kids’ cardboard toolbox was next up on our cardboard making list. I found a smaller box with smaller handholds for the toolbox with real tools, real nuts and bolts and other real stuff, for real cardboard projects…

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Child sized tools: embellishment hammer, round tipped serrated cutting blade, spackling blade, screwdriver and safety scissors

The Cardboard Collective

Assorted screws, bolts, nuts and washers

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Here’s a peek at our first project. I originally saw this idea in what I believe was a February 2012 issue of Family Fun Magazine. They used dry wall screws and a rock for pounding, which would work too.

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

We enjoyed the opportunity to do some parallel “making”. It was great to all be focused on different cardboard projects while we pounded, sawed and glued to our heart’s content.

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

The accordion cardboard drop cloth is a great addition to this ensemble. I blogged about it last fall here.

The Cardboard Collective

Cardboard Toolbox for Kids

Do you have a cardboard tool kit or set of tools for your kids? I’d love to hear how others are making cardboard construction play accessible for kids of all ages…