How Many Ways With Boxes?
Over the course of a few weeks our fruit & vege boxes were like usual the most played with item of all in our house. Everybody know’s just how much a child loves to play with a simple box. It can become so many things… perfect for little imaginations to run wild, an ideal blank canvas for brainstorming and discovering new possibilities. The options for play are endless.
Generating Ideas- Rapid Prototyping Style
What was most interesting was to watch just how many ways the boxes were used during play until they became crushed beyond recognition. I was only called upon for lending a hand with tape when frustration set in. I missed a few concepts but I was able to capture a selection of ideas the kid’s created before they were quickly modified, moved and the play started all over again in a new way.
Pushing The Limits- Thinking Beyond The Box
When children have something in their hands at their control, they manipulate it and try new things over and over again. It’s no wonder so many kid’s toys get broken when they push the limits of what it can do, many toy’s constrain children’s imaginations and they quickly tire of them.
Finally, with dramatic boy-ish enthusiasm the boxes were piled high and crushed with all the effort and energy they could summon from the height of the couch.
The ideas pictured were described by the kid’s as: Pirate Boat, House, Chase tunnel, Ball rolling tunnel, Train track tunnel, Car ramp with bumps, Slide on the stairs, Maze, Red fort.
Children, Please Play With Your Food
Stop playing with your food and just eat it! ….Sound familiar?
I’m sure it all started with the ‘train-of-mushy-baby-food-to-get-my-baby-to-eat’ and it hasn’t stopped since. Even if it takes a little longer to get eaten its much more fun to play with it. Their ideas are far more imaginative than mine. Last nights dinner ended up as stuffed potato pirate boats with broccoli and bean sails and the peas and corn are treasure when you put the top back onto the potato. Carrot sticks became swords, but we had to constrain some of the play when their imagination took over from our table manners and peas became cannon balls flying across the table…
There is a lot of creative food play at our house, not all the time, but often. They enjoy it and when they have fun they actually eat too.
Last week there were no lemons to juice but my son quietly found a way to make his boring water into a refreshing watermelon drink.
When our kids eat they are not just filling their tummies. I hope they enjoy every last bite.
Do Our Children Have Enough Time To Play?
We’re all just so busy these days. Rushed and scheduled activities and planned entertainment for the children are common nowadays. But we also need to consider the importance of giving our children time to just explore and play. Time to discover, to develop ideas to move beyond boredom into exploration mode.
Discovery Through Play
A great example is how a 5yr old who initially appeared bored, quietly sitting under a tree at the edge of a lake, went on to create this beautiful raft which is constructed with a bundle of sticks and soft pumice stones. Items that were scattered across the beach others may not have even noticed. With enough time- half an hour, he sat down and ‘played’ or ‘experimented’ with them until he discovered he could ‘drill’ holes through the pumice with sticks. It was with this combination of simple and limited available materials that further inspired him to build his ‘discovery’ into a raft.
No one disturbed him from his intense concentration until the exciting stage of seeing if it would work- he had a captive audience. Testing it was a big part of the evaluation of the building materials and the design. The pumice to his surprise, floated wonderfully and the resulting raft provided much pride and accomplishment on his part. So much so, that he raced into the water after it fully clothed to retrieve it.
We were so close to rushing off to make it home in time for dinner, but this experience was well worth getting home late for…
Design Thinking Skills
The above scenario describes a child exhibiting very similar skills as a designer using the design process to innovate. A designer builds prototypes to evaluate an idea. Simple, quick mock-ups, communicating the way it works, how it looks, feels and the experience. Testing, getting feedback, evaluating, refining, are all part of the design process.
Do we underestimate what children are learning during play time?
How can we schedule ‘free time’ into our busy lives?
Idea Generation During Play
Take a 5 year old boy and a pile of cut flax leaves. During an hour of intense concentration and un-interrupted play we see weaving, knots, wearable items followed by “warrior” outfits and lasso traps. Many ideas with a few lengths of flax.
A great example of deep exploration and creative play. Ideation, prototyping, building and role-play. A simple version of the process of innovation and where it can all begin.