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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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 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 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????
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?