Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's starting off well.....



I know, I cheated a little (7 hours too early) but I do feel that 2010 is really going to gain momentum with regards to children and nature. Here's an exciting project, for starters...

Camilla Rockwell is currently working on a new documentary called "Mother Nature's Child". It explores how time spent in nature influences child health and development. Powerful stuff, check out the trailer.

It's Getting Hot In Here

This is a blog by our next generation of leaders, "a collection of voices from the student and youth leaders of the global movement to stop global warming". Love it.

Happy New Year

Here's hoping 2010 will be a good year for us all, but especially to children, nature and our sense of play.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Better late than never.


In leu of the Copenhagen Climate Conferences, although a little after the fact.....here's a website called Children in a changing climate, about "securing children and young people a voice in preventing and adapting to climate change - from their communities to the UN".

Check out the latest news side bar with exciting articles about what went on at the conference, my favourite heading being "Children set homework for adults at COP15 climate conference". Nice.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another gap in my education


Thomas Berry..... I'd never heard of him until today. I know, some days I feel like I've been living in a cave. It's hard to summarize his career in one sentence, particularly since I am just learning about him myself.

I just read this essay he wrote in December 1993, called The Meadow Across the Creek.

My favourite part:

"We have indeed become strange beings so completely are we at odds with the planet that brought us into being. We dedicate enormous talent and knowledge and research to developing a human order disengaged from and even predatory on the very sources whence we came and upon which we depend at every moment of our existence. We initiate our children into an economic order based on exploitation of the natural life systems of the planet. To achieve this perspective we must first make them autistic in their relation with the natural world about them. This disconnection occurs quite simply since we ourselves have become insensitive toward the natural world and do not realize just what we are doing. Yet, if we observe our children closely in their early years and see how they are instinctively attracted to the experiences of the natural world about them, we will see how disorientated they become in the mechanistic and even toxic environment that we provide for them."

About time too.


The headline reads Congress Considers Federal Funding for City Parks. The article, posted on the Children and Nature website, says legislation has been introduced in Congress that would provide federal funding for urban parks and recreation for the first time in eight years....

EIGHT YEARS..... bleak time or we could even call them Dark Ages (definition from wikipedia: The Dark Ages is a term referring to the perceived period of cultural decline or societal collpase). Without places where, as the article states "children can play outdoors, get involved in sports and experience nature", these are and have been dark times indeed.

So, let's see some change.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Child Friendly Cities


I actually practiced what I preached (for a change... ha), by checking out the IPA website, as I had suggested on my previous post and found this link to the website, Child Friendly Cities, a part of Unicef.

What is a child friendly city? I asked the same question......

In a nutshell, or the full version to be found here....

- It is a city, or more generally a system of local governance, committed to fulfilling children's rights, including their right to:
  • Influence decisions about their city
  • Express their opinion on the city they want
  • Participate in family, community and social life
  • Receive basic services such as health care and education
  • Drink safe water and have access to proper sanitation
  • Be protected from exploitation, violence and abuse
  • Walk safely in the streets on their own
  • Meet friends and play
  • Have green spaces for plants and animals
  • Live in an unpolluted environment
  • Participate in cultural and social events
  • Be an equal citizen of their city with access to every service, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, income, gender or disability
I read this and thought how lucky my kids are just to be in a city/country where much of this is taken for granted. It's hard to imagine it otherwise. But, as necessity is the mother of invention, this organization wouldn't exist but for a need...... Sad.

Play


It would be a sad day for us all if the International Play Association couldn't come up with interesting speakers talking about play, but it isn't..... a sad day, I mean. And let's face it, any organization that's main concern is to promote children's right to play has got my vote.

Professor Jaap Doek talked about important aspects of play in a keynote address, titled "Children and the Right to Play", at the IPA conference in Hong Kong in 2008.

".....play was then and still is today a free activity; if the activity is enforced it is not “play” anymore. Play is also an activity different from the common or real life. It is an activity with its own purpose."

But don't let me spoil it by paraphrasing.... read it yourself. Why not check out the rest of their website while you're there.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Engineers rejoice!


I know this may seem slightly off topic but this article about engineering, called A degree of passion is what's needed most, written by Prince Phillip, shows again how our school systems are failing our children.

"Many of our pioneering engineers started without any formal training but had a passion, and a talent, for invention and development. The system does not seem to be able to cope with the “hands-on” enthusiast, who has no immediate interest in academic qualifications. The challenge is to entice them on to the ladder of professional advancement."

Where there should be opportunities for creativity and innovation, we have created a prescribed and rigid learning structure. Nice to see even the English Royal Family have joined the band wagon....

Time to plant a tree



I know this may seem like a simplistic answer to climate change, but trees can solve so many problems...... Watch this, Earth's Climate History and then know this:

A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings. (From here.)

M Paul Friedberg




The Cultural Landscape Foundation have created these online oral histories on Landscape Architects of note and the latest one completed is about M. Paul Friedberg. I studied his work while researching for my thesis on children and nature. Here is a great article on the Dwell website about him and architect Richard Dattner, among others, and the work they did on playgrounds in the 60's and 70's.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"Friedberg and Dattner were interested in the connections between imaginative play, exploration, and cognitive development as explored by psychologists such as Jean Piaget, R. D. Laing, and Erik Erikson. “An environment that provides only the familiar challenges that already have been overcome countless times, will never call forth any new learning,” observed Dattner in his 1969 book Design for Play. After observing how children choreograph their own entertainment in construction sites and on city streets—running, jumping, swinging, and vaulting from hydrant to fire escape to stairwell—both men championed “linked” or “continuous” play rather than offering one static experience per element. “The choice of what to do next becomes an experience. The more complex the playground, the greater the choice and the more enriched the learning experience,” explained Friedberg in his 1970 book Play and Interplay."

Funny to think that they thought like that 40+ years ago and it seems so innovative reading it today..... why haven't we built upon that knowledge and moved on? Are our playgrounds and parks creative and enriching places? Not from where I'm standing......

Check out his interview about facilitating opportunity and facilitating play. Follow the link, launch the oral history module, then click on the design tab and scroll down.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Places of Woe


The Free Play Network have created an online exhibition of play spaces, categorising them into places of woe and possibility. It's depressing to see the places of woe, as you would expect.... but for me more because we all know places that look like that, rather than for the obvious reasons.

The places of possibility have one common theme.... nature.

Back on my soap box again....... it's a fine place to be. Good views and a little wind in my face.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I'm no Wilberforce or Huxley


Debating isn't my strong point and yet when I feel strongly about something I wish I had the debating skills to equal the passion..... but I always fall short.

I tried to talk to someone recently about this study being done in the UK, the EarlyBird Diabetes Trust, (it has been mentioned in an article I posted about last month), about the findings that food and not activity seem to be more of a factor in the current obesity/diabetes epidemic. But my powers of persuasion, my oratorial skills, my you-should-believe-everything-I-say-because-I-am-right argument didn't wash. They were unimpressed......

What I needed to say was this, follow this link to the physical activity section.

I don't know if that would have worked but at least I wouldn't have ended the discussion with a pathetic aside of "Well, I have a blog about the subject and feel very strongly about it....". A comment I am being teased mercilessly about in the cold light of day.

So, it's time to brush up your Shakespeare, start quoting him now.... and hopefully a little literary pomposity will win people over. Failing that, I'll just do what the Queen Mum would do and say "We shall have fog by teatime." (Yay, Victoria Wood)

Monday, November 23, 2009

California here I come


Actually, I'm already here but had not heard about this campaign. Either I'm not getting out enough with my kids to have heard about it or they are just not promoting the Children in Nature Campaign as they should.

Irregardless of that, it is great to see California State Parks realizing they need to reach out to the next generation of park goers......

Check out the website, there are some nice ideas for getting kids outdoors, even in your neighborhood.

Edge


The Edge is an independent foundation promoting practical and vocational learning in the UK. Along the lines of Ken Robinson's criticisms of the education system only catering to academically minded children who want to be University Professors, (see earlier post about his speech on TED), the Edge hope to give all young people the opportunities to achieve their potential by running campaigns and projects to challenge academic snobbery and stimulate a demand for practical learning.

"We Are The People We've Been Waiting For" is a great interactive website of theirs. Luckily when I was a teenager I knew what I wanted to do and nothing would stop me from following that path, but for all those kids out there that don't fit into the cookie cutter mold, this is light at the end of a very dark and hormonally off balance tunnel will be truly welcome........

Yay, dirt is a good thing.....


It's great to see some research into proving dirt is good for kids. The BBC have an article about research from the School of Medicine at University of California, San Diego. Apparently, "normal bacteria living on the skin trigger a pathway that helps prevent inflammation when we get hurt. The bugs dampen down overactive immune responses that can cause cuts and grazes to swell." Well, I for one think it's great.....

I won't be telling my boys any time soon but I certainly won't be giving them a hard time about getting dirty any more.....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Sense of Wonder


I finally tracked down a copy of Rachel Carson's book, "The Sense of Wonder" through my local library. It was a copy from 1966, older than me and had some great photos to accompany the text. I read it in 15 minutes, or devoured it I should say. Here is a passage I loved:

"A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength."

By the way, there is also a film out about Rachel Carson, called "A Sense of Wonder".

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kids are the best promoters



I love this movie by the WWF, encouraging America to get involved in the climate change issue at the UN summit in Copenhagen.

Such a powerful message...... please send an email to President Obama after you've viewed it (let your voice be heard, link).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Can't get enough of this man


Just finished "The Element" and now this...... a speech by Sir Ken Robinson at the Los Angeles Library this year...... It's like Christmas.

What a great quote.

…children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make the top of any conservationist’s list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom…” Gill (2005)


Found on page 20 here.


Adventure Playgrounds of yesterday, today and hopefully tomorrow


This topic was the starting point for my thesis and it taught me many things:
1. Not to over design spaces
2. Create spaces for kids and not tiny versions of adult spaces
3. Kids getting dirty while reenacting "The Lord of The Flies" is quite natural, however scary it looks to an adult......

During my research I came across this quote I have never forgotten, by Lady Allen of Hurtwood (above);

"Better a broken bone than a broken spirit".

You'd get sued today for just thinking that......

I am happy to report that even though the original adventure playground that started it all, at Emdrup in Denmark, has long gone, they are still thriving. Here's a short movie on the Play England website called "Adventure Playground Voices". Great.

A local blog for local people


Ok, anyone not a fan of "The League of Gentleman" won't get the heading, but now's your chance to find out....

The Garden School Foundation, based in Los Angeles, as I am, has a great blog. It's inspiring to see how the school ground that they transformed from asphalt to a garden has had such an impact on the lives of the children at the 24th Street School.

I am going to add it to my links and hope you check it out as well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm not a camper.


Frequently I put the words children and nature in Google to search for new articles and interesting happenings I can post about and find a plethora of amazing non-profit organization/blogs/networks/collaborations/forums/you name it, with an emphasis on camping, hiking, backpacking and general getting-out-into-nature inspired activities.

Now, it pains me to admit that none of the above are my cup of tea. Connecting with nature, yes, but driving to a remote patch of wilderness to really feel that I am one with mother nature, no.

For me connecting with nature isn't all about camping and roughing it in the wilderness. It is and should be about having nature accessible, outside your own back door, a 5 minute walk to a local wood, a park within a quarter mile of your residence, a street with wide sidewalks and shade trees. Within those spaces children and adults can still feel connected to and experience nature without feeling like they have to pack all but the kitchen sink just to be in a natural setting....

So, I hope my confession rings true with many of you out there, people who love and appreciate nature but don't feel the urge to leave behind the comforts of home to enjoy them. With good planning and design we should all be able to have the choice. Mosquitos or Mojitos........

Rachel Carson


While doing my weekly research I came across Rachel Carson. I started to read about her and the books she had written and was quite appalled with myself that I had never heard of her.

I am making it my mission this week to read "The Sense of Wonder", her final book. As her website states, it was "originally written as a 1950's magazine article called "Help Your Child to Wonder" and photo-illustrated after her death, details Carson's philosophy that adults need to nurture a child's inborn sense of wonder about the natural world."

Maybe I can be forgiven as she was American and I didn't study American history in my English school. Plus this book has been out of print until 1998........ Ok, I'll cut myself some slack.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Children & Nature Network

Volume 4.

Greenspace supports children’s quality of life

Time spent outdoors supports many aspects of children’s health

Children’s classroom behavior is better if they have recess

Allocating time to physical activity in school does not negatively impact

academic achievement

School gardens positively impact children’s learning and behavior

Natural views from high school positively impact students’ academic

achievement and behavior

Real field trips provide better overall learning environments than virtual field trips

Older children who spend more time outside tend to be more physically active

and are less likely to be overweight

Green school grounds improve quantity and quality of elementary school

children’s physical activity

Schoolyard size and landscape quality influence children’s satisfaction and

weight

Children in greener neighborhoods have lower body weight changes


And that's only by page 8......


These are headings from an annotated bibliography from the Children & Nature Network, compiling research resources with an emphasis on research published in 2008-2009 in two primary areas:

1) benefits to children from contact with nature

2) children’s experience of nature...... check it out.

Nice


Lately I feel like I've only been posting about exciting things happening in the UK, even though I have a foot in two camps (a Brit living in the US). Much as I like to stay neutral...... there just hasn't been anything new here to post about.... until now.

The American Association of Landscape Architects just posted this article on their LAND website about a revitalized 35 acre park in Florida and how the current recession encouraged them to pursue ideas about free play and re-engaging children with nature. By preserving as much green space as possible, solving safety issues, opening views into wooded areas and updating play equipment, they kept to their budget.

What was great to hear was that the newly cleaned up wooded area of the park really captured the children's imaginations.

So, if you find you are asked to redesign an existing little patch of nature...... don't mess with it. Kids will love it just as it is.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Life


I love finding weird and wonderful things in nature that will excite/inspire/revolt and generally interest my kids. I watched David Attenborough's new series "Life" showing in the UK at the moment and the first episode had this little guy in it.

When he came out of his cocoon his eyes were on either side of his head, where there should be..... or so I thought. He proceeded to gulp air into his head and blow his eyes out on long stalks to where you see them now. The longer his stalks were the better chance he had of being the boss man and all the females in the area were his for the taking.......

Although parts of the program were a little adult for my kids, I let them see this guy....... they loved it.

Food or exercise?


Here is an interesting article on The Times website ( a UK newpaper) about new research into why we are getting fatter and whether exercise is the best way forward or rethinking our dietary needs.

American children have grown on average 9lb heavier since the 70's. It appears that to return to our leaner 1970's level in the US, children would have to reduce their calorie intake by about 350 calories a day..... cut that soda out and Bob's your uncle.... oh, if it were that simple, but it would be a start.

Please read it, there is too much interesting and thought provoking information in it for me to paraphrase and I wouldn't do it justice.

Friday, October 16, 2009

So this is interesting


"Children should not start formal learning until they are six, a review of primary education in England says."

The article on the BBC website quotes as saying that "there is no evidence that an early introduction to formal learning has any benefit, but there are suggestions it can do some harm."

I, for one, applaud the people putting this review together. Too many people are pushing children into the academics at a younger and younger age to the detriment of other important developmental activities, i.e. outdoor unstructured play, to name one. All for keeping up with test scores.

I know I never did very well on test scores and hated being assessed for my intelligence on how much I information I retained rather than whether I actually understood it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Happy 20th Birthday


It has been 20 years since the Convention on the Rights of the Child became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children. I read this article on the UNICEF website and it made me.......... well, I experienced a whole gamut of emotions I can hardly begin to describe.

Here is their final paragraph.

"This 20th anniversary of the CRC reminds us, most of all, of what we have left to do. The Convention demands a revolution that places children at the heart of human development – not only because this offers a strong return on our investment (although it does) nor because the vulnerability of childhood calls upon our compassion (although it should), but rather for a more fundamental reason: because it is their right."

Most kids don't exercise enough.


Ok, so that I know.......... but when the British Heart Foundation predicts that almost 70% OF CHILDREN WILL BE OVERWEIGHT BY 2050, well, what more can I say?

Will our next generation end up like this? Link.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

To dream......


I love getting emails like this. The wonderful people from Play England (UK non profit funded by lottery money and part of National Children's Bureau) sent out their draft of a strategic planning guidance, called Embedding the Play Strategy, to assist local decision makers to put children's play at the heart of their local communities.

This is the first national Play Strategy and it "sets out the government's vision and commitments for better play opportunities for children in England."

Every country should have one....... wouldn't it be lovely if it became the done thing, a special department in the government set up for expanding opportunities for children and play.........

Peter O'Toole sang it better than I ever can........ To dream the impossible dream.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Children at Play Conference


It's always nice to hear that I'm not the only one.... even though sometimes I feel like I am. Interested in getting children outside, that is.. Ok, so I know I'm not but when I hear of exciting conferences going on, I know the word is getting out there.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest are presenting a one day conference on exploring the value of free play in nature.

Shame Los Angeles is not a hop, skip and jump away from Clermont, Kentucky or I'd be there in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If one of my heroes is worried... we all need to worry.


Sir David Attenborough is one of my heroes.

After looking that the results of a survey done by BBC Wildlife Magazine, he has cause for concern. Children would rather see friends or play on their computers games than go for a walk or play outdoors.

Here is the article about the survey and how children have lost touch with the natural world. Attenborough alarmed as children are left flummoxed by test on the natural world.

What we need are some more videos like this one the BBC did last year. Penguins. That will get kids excited about the natural world.......... oh, and getting them outside as well........ You never know, penguins could be coming to a neighbourhood near you.

Video Games


Never thought I'd see the day when I posted an article about the positive benefits of video gaming.... but here is an interesting article, A playful route to learning, which also mentions the importance of play in our lives.

Here's a little part of it to wet your appetite.....

"There are misgivings to be resolved before society works out how games might contribute to learning, including issues around dysfunctionality and addiction. The core issues are deeper: about our failure to understand the real nature of the play impulse. Human beings are naturally playful. The problem begins when compartments are constructed for learning, growing and being. Rationalists consigned play to childhood, learning to adolescence, and being to maturity. An unholy alliance with puritanical religions ensured that play was stigmatised in learning, and by the advent of maturity, the adult had come to regard play as a guilty pleasure, one that could have no proper place in the moulding of the young."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"The health of our children is negatively affected by......


the design of American communities." Having lived in both London and Los Angeles, I can see why the American Academy of Pediatrics came to that conclusion.

An article about the fact that the AAP have specifically linked children's physical inactivity with the design of the built environment is here, 'Redesign communities to help alleviate obesity' and was republished in the Landscape Architecture magazine this month, called 'Why our children should be able to walk to school'.

Not that I'm trying to drum up more work for myself and my peers but wouldn't one of the answers be....... more parks, more open space, more trees, more nature in general.......... and finally more common sense by policy makers, please.

Am I failing my children?


When I read this article, Are parents pushing their children too hard?, I was horrified. Have I been living in a bubble? When did this happen? Will I be failing my children if I don't go down this route? Will my children thank me or hate me for the choices I make for them? When did life get to be so hard.... for kids?

Read the article, and then check out my link to the Idle Parent and breathe out again........... all will be well with the world.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The peasants are revolting.....


And by peasants, I mean those little people called children who get about as many rights as the peasants did, way back when.

"Let us play and we'll learn better", this is what kids are saying in a new report from Play England. Smart move kids......

Now we are bound to take them seriously if they will actually learn by playing more..... Here's the link to the article.

Playday


Playday is a national campaign in the UK, celebrating the children's right to play. They published a report called Children's time to play: A Literature Review looking at the importance of free time and play and examining how children spend their time.

Not that I don't want you to check it out but here is their conclusion to the report. Hopefully it will wet your appetite rather make you than think you don't need to read it now....

"From the evidence we can conclude that children’s play is vital for their social and physical development and is a way they wish to spend their free time. Children associate free time with freedom, independence and choice; however, play of this nature is often limited. Ginsberg highlights that the combination of busy lifestyles and academic commitments has impinged on children’s free time, affecting their cognitive, physical, social and emotional stability. Play that is directed by adults rather than by children themselves does not require the same level of skills, initiative and decision-making, and so does not offer the same learning experience. That is not to say that adults cannot have a vital role in play. Their involvement in child-centred play can offer a unique bonding opportunity that allows adults to see the world through the eyes of a child (Ginsburg 2006). As Ginsberg notes, we must acknowledge the merits of academia in children’s lives and understand the health benefits of organised activities, but a balance must be stuck between this and more informal and unstructured play, where children are free to enjoy themselves and do as they wish without adult control."


Josie Gleave

Play England

June 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hole-in-the-Wall


I came across this website through TED and thought what they were doing was astonishing. It only reconfirmed my belief that children are amazing and we... adults... should leave them alone, to create, innovate and generally do things their own inimitable way.

Hole-in-the-Wall was set up to research and develop a methodology formerly called Minimally Invasive Education. A computer is literally put in a hole in the wall in the playground and by breaking the traditional confines of a school, they are employing a unique collaborative learning approach and encouraging children to explore, learn and just enjoy. What excited me the most were the reasons why they placed the computer outside.

"The playground setting offers a host of other advantages. Unconditional access to Learning Stations ensures that both children in-school and out-of-school can use them. Another advantage is that the unstructured nature of this setting also ensures that children themselves take ownership of the Learning Station by forming self-organized groups who learn on their own. Finally an unsupervised setting ensures that the entire process of learning is learner-centric and is driven by a child’s natural curiosity."

Check it out.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's about time.


While we all know the benefits of being in nature, having a study actually point out, in black and white, that nature is good for your children when included in the schoolyard and can make them healthier and smarter, will be a happy day. Now all we need to do is get rid of all this ridiculous testing.......

The wonderful people at the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois are currently working on a project called The Capacity to Learn. It will "study the effects of schoolyard nature on children's learning and academic achievement as reflected in standardized test scores. With this study, we hope to convincingly document whether children learn more in green school settings."

Hallelujah!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mel Gibson......


Oh, I love a good cryptic heading. Six degrees of separation from my title to the subject of my post. Mel Gibson was in "The Year of Living Dangerously" and here is a fascinating article on "How to Live Dangerously" by Warwick Cairn.

OK, so it was two degrees, but one more and I would have had to sing........ ooooooh, aaaaaah..... aaaaaah, ooooooh, precious moments....... Click here to hear the rest.

Don't get me started on.....


Actually, it's probably too late. And by the "don't get me the started on", I mean "Helicopter Parents". To quote wikipedia, and who doesn't these days.....

"Helicopter parent is a colloquial, early 21st-century term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to his or her child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. These parents rush to prevent any harm or failure from befalling them and will not let them learn from their own mistakes, sometimes even contrary to the children's wishes."

So, back to the reason why this all started. We were on vacation/holiday (depending on which side of the channel you are reading this) last week and I had a moment of clarity.....

Helicopter Parenting is the antithesis of the Children and Nature movement.

The moment happened when I watched a couple of mothers hovering over their two year olds, who were using the slides on a jungle gym. When the children wanted to climb back up the slide of their own accord, they were told, several times, "up the stairs and down the slide". When did our job description of parenting include being the kill joy of fun? At two? On a jungle gym designed for two year olds?

So, if helicoptering over children hinders their free, unstructured play, just by the shear fact that adults are there..... then by golly, it's time to step back, sell the Apache and let the children play, preferably outside..........

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh to be in Scotland on the 7th of October


No, its not Robert Burns day or even National Haggis Day (which coincidentally they have since discovered was an English invention..... ) but a conference on Children, Risk and Responsibility: encouraging confidence in a risk-averse society.

I would love to go for all the obvious reasons, a subject right up my alley, blah blah blah..... but mainly because Tom Hodgkinson of the Idle Parent is speaking (see my links). One of my favourite websites......

I wish my childhood dream of owning my own tardis would come true, but I once stood in the original one at the BBC centre and nothing happened and I never got to meet a Psammead (sand fairy) ..... so will have to make do with reading about it from afar......

Play England


I'm a subscriber of the Children's Play Information Service through Play England, part of the National Children's Bureau in the UK and they made a 4 minute film exploring "how high-quality play facilities in Elementary Schools can help improve children's academic performance and enjoyment of school."

Maybe it's the red car syndrome but I feel like I hear this message repeated over and over again but is there anybody out there listening? Hello?

Play in Schools, it's only 4 minutes of your life, go on........ you know you want to.

I wish I could write letters like this


I found this letter in the UK's newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, on a link from the website below (Playborhood) and thought it was so well done and concisely put that I wanted to post it. It was written a few years ago but it is still relevant, as the subject matter hasn't really been dealt with..... not on a national or international scale.

My soap box is a constant companion on this wonderful journey...

Let our children play. (Scroll down to last letter)

Playborhood


This website was set up by a group of parents who are committed to bringing free, unstructured play into their childrens lives and trying to spread the word as they go. Even the sign above is for sale, you too can join the fight.....

This is a great site, full of amazing resources and links. Playborhood.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is this on topic?

I struggled with posting this, because as the title says, this blog is about children, nature and play. But as education involves kids, hey, it's a shoe-in.

Sir Ken Robinson gives an insightful talk on TED about schools killing creativity. Fantastic.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ooooh, murder linked to lack of play?


Now that's an interesting subject link. I mean, I like Miss Marple as much as the next person, but I never saw her coming to her conclusions of who the killer was by finding out who had repressed play during childhood. But back then, it wasn't such a problem, lack of play, I mean.....

Author Stuart Brown, of The National Institute for Play, in California, has collected a lot of solid anecdotal evidence of the value of play, including a pilot study of young murderers throughout the state of Texas. An interview with him is here, Play Author Stuart Brown: Why Playtime Matters to Kids' Health and Brains.

Check out the related news section at the bottom of the interview, some interesting links. Plus, he has a talk on TED.