The Quest For A Better Bubble
When a flimsy useless bubble-wand actually inspires a bit of problem solving and prototyping to create a new improved design solution.
If you don’t like it, then make a better one.
Rather than giving up on a cheap toy, Mr Six went in search of a better idea and we couldn’t help but notice the result from the shouts of excitement.
Now everyone want’s the better one, so Mr Four makes one too.
There will always be an even better bubble. It’s just a matter of who takes the opportunity to discover it.
…An innovator is a creative problem solver. You can be a problem solver without creativity and that doesn’t lead to innovation. You can be creative without solving any problems, that doesn’t lead to innovation either. So we’re not just talking about the breakthrough innovations and the brilliant innovators like a Steve Jobs, we’re talking about the capacities of many many many more young people to solve many many more different kinds of problems…
The world does not care what you know. It cares what you can do with what you know.
I Dare You. Confidence, Creativity And Risk Taking
Beyond The Comfort Zone
Risk taking is an essential but hard-to-watch part of childhood. It’s a typical child thing to explore the world around them, but some kids seem more inclined on pushing the limits than others. How does this confidence link to creativity?
Shaping the Future
If our children are our future, how are we going to equip them with the skills to create solutions to the long term problems we face? We can all contribute to make the future we want while inspiring our children to make a difference too through observing our own actions.
Why can’t I see the photograph right now?
~ A question asked in 1943 by Edwin Land’s three-year-old daughter, after he’d snapped her picture with a standard camera. Rather than dismissing this question as an impossibility, Land took inspiration from it, decided this question deserved a good answer and in February of 1947 he proceeded to invent instant photography with the world’s first Polaroid camera via his company Polaroid. Technology that unleashed one of the most creative movements in the history of the static image.
See also: Instant: The Story Of Polaroid
Pattern’s Of Play
Pattern’s of play emerge when children develop an interest - motivating them to continue their own exploration and discovery. Recently, it’s been fascinating for me to observe a burst of play interest in circular repetitive motion.
Young children will naturally seek out familiar maths and science concept’s such as symmetry at play, but they may also discover geometry, pattern, balance, harmony, space, repetition, motion, order, shape, position, size, proportion, number, sequence, visual perception, spatial orientation, coordination… and more. My kid’s may not yet grasp some of the complex concepts but they are inherently drawn to explore many of them during their creative play.
From Trash To Treasure
Dumpster Diving. There really is a term for it. Wikihow describes it to be a sport, a popular hobby for the frugal and an environmentally and socially conscious way of life.
With a little bit of imagination, trash can be transformed into treasure. Children are open to it and excited by it. Adults on the other hand are still a bit apprehensive to even using discarded items, the idea of playing with other peoples garbage is not something we were meant to do. But the times have changed. Society now recognises the need to reduce, reuse, recycle and with it comes an exciting new realm of creativity.
I wish I got a photo of the rummaging - my six-year-old son had pointed out a pile of boxes twice on recycling day, outside the village shops on the way back from school. For two weeks I had driven past, but this time I noted yes he really really did need those boxes. He just couldn’t believe someone would throw away perfectly good quality boxes, it really surprised him, as if they were throwing away perfectly good toys, no difference to him. And why wasn’t anyone else grabbing them? he was genuinely baffled.
A Child Sees A Pile Of Inspiration, Not Garbage
‘Before anyone else got to them’ we pulled over as the rain began to drizzle down. Now there is this image stuck firmly in my mind of my son clambering over piles of big boxes all tidy stacked and organised, selecting out the best of the best. His biggest ‘score’ were the green and grey coloured egg crates, and many of them. By the time he had what he wanted the rain had set in, a dog had stopped to check out the action and I noticed people walking by were beginning to wonder who had left a young child digging through garbage on his own. Add to this image the incoming mist made it feel like we were in a scene of a bizarre movie. He arrived back at the car with armfuls. The car was so tight with 3 kids and cardboard piled high it was a decision between the box in his carseat or himself. It was a close call… all for the joy of creating….
From Inspiration To Opportunity
Our spontaneous scavenging led to many ongoing discussions about why and what we throw away, how some things can instead be fixed, reused or repurposed. We discovered a delightful book called The Dumpster Diver. The message of this book nurtures the reduce, re-use, recycle spirit, getting kids thinking about how one man’s trash, can be another man’s treasure. The book even has a creative activity guide to go with it.
Freitag is just one of the many inspiring stories to share with the kids of a successful brand based on upcycling. Bags and accessories are made from materials that spent their first life on the road. Likewise SkateBacks - upcycled skateboard scraps are another great new story. My son was intrigued, excited and motivated watching these video stories. He was happier to discover adults are not throwing away everything as he first thought. I’ve only mentioned a few examples, but there’s even a playful toy MakeDo connectors - encouraging creation using discarded items such as packaging. That desire to reuse is a good one and I think I’ll let my son scavenge whenever he really feels the urge to.
There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening out there with the booming ‘maker movement’ and we’re going to continue to see even more from our children as they change our ‘throw away’ culture we’ve all grown up in and grown too comfortable with.
Innovation = changing your world for the better … innovation could be changing the way you raise your children in order to encourage them to think more creatively and seek knowledge better. That would be a truly noble innovation and one that would profoundly change the world of your family, your children and their future. Frankly, to my mind, it is also a far greater innovation than 99% of the corporate innovation I read about.
Collaboration : The Power Of Playing Together
We’re often the outsider to children’s collaborative play, but other times we’re a valuable contributor too. There’s the friends, kindy, school, neighborhood kid’s - many opportunities for kids to collaborate, but family time - siblings and parents are also great collaborators and are often the one’s spending the most time together.
I recently came across a research paper which I refer to here that talked about collaboration between kids at play. It helped me to understand what I have been observing with my kids at play, beyond what I’ve encountered as a designer collaborating as part of a creative team. There is certainly the time and place for kids to play on their own, learn to discover what happens beyond boredom, but what exactly is it about the magic of a team dynamic, the process and results of that collaboration?
The Dynamics Of Play Collaboration
‘Playing’ and ‘collaborating’ can be similar things, but collaboration feels much more achieving of something. If I sit with my child to collaborate on something we’re often working towards a goal. Playing together feels much more open-ended, care-free and casual. Maybe it can be as simple as how we think about it.
Collaboration helps to create an outcome that a child could not achieve on their own. Those stuck moments are often a call for a collaborator. My young child’s frustrated screams can be sometimes interpreted as “..here’s where I’m at, now how do I get to the next point with this problem..” Children do need to learn to problem-solve but sometimes it takes more than a lone child to solve that step of frustration.
It’s fascinating to observe how small children initiate, share and maintain the social act of collaboration. Even though they are young, they are already complex social creatures at play. How they communicate and express themselves is a developing skill. When kid’s progress from play-alongside-one-another, to active-collaborative-play they are learning how and when to take control, when to share, when to use their knowledge, and how to step up and take part. They creatively build off each other’s ideas whether they are watching, contributing, imitating, sharing, or copying.
When Play Is A Team Sport
When two or more kids play they solve problems towards a joint and shared outcome. Kid’s play as open, dynamic and self organizing systems making them particularly efficient at achieving a successful outcome.
Make-believe play can be another form of collaboration. Participating in a spontaneous story-telling scenario let’s kid’s explore new ideas and experience life from a different perspective.
Participating and learning to play as a team is about combining other children’s ideas, knowledge and experience, rather than doing by ones self with one’s own limited abilities and knowledge. As a team kids exchange views, critique, argue, resolve conflict issues and form new ideas through the creative problem-solving process of collaboration.
Conflict In Play Is Part Of The Process
It’s no surprise that collaboration between children is often fraught with conflict - we see it all the time with our kid’s. Disagreement is important in collaborating, challenging different thought and knowledge. During the social conflict they are learning about themselves, others and their social world. An argument is like re-organising the collaboration. They invite a response and hopefully head towards resolution. Ultimately the kids choose resolutions and strategies that help to continue the collaborative play rather than end it.
When the children disagree they review their thoughts, ideas and solutions to construct a shared understanding. It takes some experience at the ‘give and take’ of collaboration to learn how to continue the interaction and realise a much greater beneficial outcome. As adults we can help guide kids to find ways to collaborate, communicate, share and negotiate as they grow and develop.
There is a certain joy that is experienced as kids play together with their joint discovery and achievements. With experience they fine tune these skills of collaboration at play and thrive as a team player.
Collaborating In The Digital World
Collaboration is not limited to the physical sense. Online we are seeing many more creative collaborative opportunities involving play and creation. My kids are incredibly motivated to continue creating when using DIY, a site where kids can share what they make, get feedback in the form of stickers, and discover ideas from others motivating them to make their own version and maybe even improve on it.
We also love Storybird. It provides a curiously fun way to create your own story, with a friend, a child, formally or informally and share with others, browse stories others have created, and just get inspired to write with the beautiful artwork provided like prompts.
Fostering Collaboration Skills - What The World Needs More Of
One may be an expert but a team may achieve an even better outcome. The world needs more collaboration. We can help by fostering these valuable skills of collaboration for our children’s future.