Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Found this amazing video over at Kickcan & Conkers. She also has a link to a great article about children and art by Anna Castagnoli.

Get Outside Day!

This week, Children and Nature Network are empowering the nations youth by calling for "Natural Leaders" to get outside and encourage others to follow suit.

So, what are you waiting for, get outside.

Recess and David Elkind

David Elkind, of the "Power of Play" book I have blogged about, has a new and fascinating article over at the New York Times.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Modern parenting is rubbish; let's change it

That's the heading for an article on the Times website, where it states that children are arriving at school lonelier, less able to share, to respect and to wait; due to being over indulged by their parents.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL (UK's Association of Teachers and Lecturers) has solutions to this modern dilemma;

What is her best piece of advice for parents? “As a parent you are not your child’s best friend. They will grow up and make their own best friends. As a parent your job is much more serious than that. Your job is to show by example and through the exercise of proper authority how to grow up.”

“Parents are under tremendous pressure to provide for their children. Resisting that can be very wearing, I know myself. I understand, I’m guilty of it myself. The sulks, the rages, the tantrums; it is very hard.

“But we have gone too far in the belief that if a child asks for something they must need it, and if they demand something they must have it. That all rules are negotiable and that children know what’s best for themselves in the long run.

“Some children arrive at school unable to realise that they may sometimes have to do things they don’t want to do. One of the most important skills parents can teach children is the deferral of gratification.”

Check out the article, it's fascinating.

Monday, March 29, 2010

To be idle

Via Swissmiss, I found a post on Scott Berkun's blog about the cult of busy, here's an excerpt:

"The phrase “I don’t have time for” should never be said. We all get the same amount of time every day. If you can’t do something it’s not about the quantity of time. It’s really about how important the task is to you. I’m sure if you were having a heart attack, you’d magically find time to go to the hospital. That time would come from something else you’d planned to do, but now seems less important. This is how time works all the time. What people really mean when they say “I don’t have time” is this thing is not important enough to earn my time. It’s a polite way to tell people they’re not worth your time."

It reminded me of how children never say they are too busy to do something, they either don't want to do it and say so or they go ahead and do it..... There's a lot we can learn from watching our kids.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Children and Art

So, I haven't been to many museums with my kids recently, and the last time we went the younger one pointed at a Rodin sculpture and said, "look at his penis...." very loudly. But, after watching this video I will ride through my embarrassment and take them more often.

It was exciting to hear teenagers discussing art with such thought and feeling......

The Tate website also has some really interesting videos, check it out.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shockingly good

This commercial seems to be creating quite a stir. Britain's independent watchdog agency, the Advertising Standards Association, thinks it is too scary for TV.

The British government diasgrees... The Guardian newspaper has the full story here.

Anything that gets grownups talking about climate change and saving the planet for our children is a good thing, isn't it?

Natural England is disappearing

Not to be a drama queen about it, but the organization Natural England have published findings of their first audit of all of England's lost and declining native species.

The report is called Lost Life: England's Lost and Threatened Species and can be found following the link. Apparently,

"habitat loss, inappropriate management, environmental pollution and pressure from non-native species have all played a part in the erosion of England’s biodiversity."

Is this scenario any different in other countries? I doubt it......

(Image above is a poster available from present and correct.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is on a mission and I wholeheartedly applaud her. Let's Move is her campaign to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity.

Here's an excerpt below from an article she wrote, but check out the full column in Newsweek.

"And let's be honest with ourselves: our kids didn't do this to themselves. Our kids don't decide what's served in the school cafeteria or whether there's time for gym class or recess. Our kids don't choose to make food products with tons of sugar and sodium in supersize portions, and then have those products marketed to them everywhere they turn. And no matter how much they beg for fast food and candy, our kids shouldn't be the ones calling the shots at dinnertime. We're in charge. We make these decisions."

I heart ladybugs/ladybirds

Even though one pooed on my hand when I was 9.....

It's National Wildlife Week. What do you love? Tell your kids. Find out what animal is their favourite. Inspire.

A humbling experience

I look at what my kids have and then I see this video..... nuff said.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I don't want to just post a load of TED talks (even though they are fascinating) but I watched this speech by Srikumar Rao last week and debated on whether to post it or not.

But, it reminded me to enjoy the "process" more with my own children, rather than worry about not having enough time to do other things because my kids need my love and time. All too soon they'll be forging ahead with their own lives and then I'll have more time than I know what to do with.

A School for Everyone

Found this over at Good. Bruce Dixon is an Australian educator, director of Ideaslab and founder of Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation.

I don't know whether it's just the australian accent, but he lends a certain gravitas to the subject. Wonderful stuff.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


And I don't mean the Jacques Tati movie, but really.... time to play. Play England, Skills Active and LGA (Local Government Association) hosted a four nations symposium on the 4th March (the four nations being England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) called "Playing the long game."

The focus was on how to sustain and broaden the investment in play critical to tackling the rise in anti-social behaviour. Providing public spaces to children to engage in positive activities was also discussed.

"The conclusion drawn from the symposium is that the four nations will call for a UK-wide commission on play, by bringing together evidence from across the nations and ensuring that play is a serious part of policy making. The symposium resulted in a commitment by the nations to keep play at the heart of the policy making that affects children’s lives."


(The photo is a still from the Playtime movie, worth watching if you've never seen it...)

Alfie Kohn

My kids school is co-sponsoring a talk next month by Alfie Kohn. Having read one of his books a while ago, Unconditional Parenting, I am keen to go.

It's called "The Schools Our Children Deserve". Here's the blurb:

"Our knowledge of how children learn - and how schools can help - has come a long way in the past few decades. Unfortunately, most schools have not: They're still more about memorizing facts and practicing isolated skills than understanding ideas from the inside out; they still exclude students from any meaningful decision-making role; and they still rely on grades, tests, homework, lectures, worksheets, competition, punishments and rewards. Alfie kohn explores the alternatives to each of these conventional practices, explaining why progressive education isn't just a realistic alternative but oe that is far more likely to help kids become critical thinkers and lifelong learners."

Excellent stuff, check out his website and maybe he will be speaking near you soon.

Survey of children

Emotional health of children

Satisfaction of parks and play areas

The Department for Children, Schools and Families in the UK have derived data from a survey of children with the following subjects:

- Emotional health and wellbeing - children and young people user perception
- Percentage of children who have experienced bullying
- More participation in positive activities
- Reduce the proportion of young people frequently using illicit drugs, alcohol or volatile substances
- Satisfaction with parks and play areas

For each topic they produced a map, see two of them above.

Interesting results. If these two were overlaid would it indicate that where kids are happiest they have the best parks? No......

However, if you download the summary for the questionnaire, on page 8 children were asked if there were three things that would make their lives better and "more places where I can go to spend time with my friends" ranked the highest at 42%.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Growing IN Place

I saw this on the Children & Nature Network website. A symposium on March 5th called Growing IN Place, presented by the Natural Learning Initiative, discussing how planners and designers can meet the challenge of enhancing the wellbeing of urban families everywhere.

Their website has tons of interesting links as well. It's time designers and planners took the baton with regards to livable, walkable communities.

Sir Ken Robinson

I've been very patient, waiting for his new talk on TED to appear on their website..... with on avail. Must be saving the best until last. So in the meantime, check out his newly designed website with lots of new stuff, radio and TV interviews.

Some days it's just what you need.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Nolan's cheese

Is this completely off topic? My kids absolutely love it (children), it's about mice (nature) and creativity and play go hand in hand...... Plus, it is fantastic. Hats off to John Nolan.

I first saw it posted over here. (And I appreciated her spoiler otherwise I might not have watched it all, the mouse doesn't die.)

The unfinished......

I started reading "The Power of Play" and do mean to finish it but other things intervened. So far it is a wonderful, thought-provoking book. To get a quick fix I checked out David Elkind's blog on the Just Ask Baby website.

The post on working mum's got my attention, for obvious reasons. I work and I'm a mum..... cutting to the chase, the punchline of the column is,

"Overall, it appears that maternal employment need not be a significant factor in a child’s long term emotional, social and intellectual development."

Interesting stuff, read it anyway.....

Rubber mulch

Many people have used rubber mulch in playgrounds with the best of intentions, thinking that it is the safest option, but today I read "The Myth of Rubberized Landscapes" by Linda Chalker-Scott of Washington State Univeristy and want you all to get rid of it NOW and trade it in for wood chips.

I know splinters are a worry............ but that's nothing in comparison to "Rubber mulch is highly flammable and difficult to extinguish once it is burning" just for starters.......


Kids? Noisy?

The Fairplay for Children charity in the UK write that Berlin have amended their city's noise pollution law so that it is "fundamentally and socially tolerable" for members of the younger generation to make noise.

How they could ever have morally upheld a law to say children shouldn't make noise is beyond me.... but if you check out the article, you'll find not all people think like that and I quote: "Some day-care facilities have even been forced to close after local residents have gone to court in search of a quiet life."


Anyone for Denmark? and Sweden.....

Free Play Network have posted about an International play study tour of parks, adventure playgrounds, schools and kindergartens in Sweden, Denmark and Berlin this summer. And all travel between sites will be by bike. (Berlin is a separate tour, I don't think they are expecting you to cycle from Berlin to Copenhagen.)

Just from the photo above (Valbyparken designed by Helle Nebelong), my kids would love it......