On Saturday, October 5th, as part of the first Children at Play Conference at Bernheim, a small community of play advocates and children gathered to explore how children play when they are allowed the opportunity to interact with their environment in ways that most “fixed equipment” playgrounds don’t. We provided lots of “loose parts” such as:
- cardboard boxes
- cut bamboo
- ropes, strings and cargo webbing
- straw bales
- sticks, rocks and stumps
- driftwood logs
- canvas tarps
- balls, plungers
We offered them knives and box cutters to use under supervision. We helped tie knots and move heavy things when assistance was asked for. We gave them drums and buckets and brooms. But mostly we stayed out of their way simply observing. When children have the opportunity to fully interact with their environment they play in ways that look very different from the way they play in most playground environments. They interact with each other more fully. They make up rules and social contracts with one another. They focus on a task and stay on focus for long periods of time. They problem solve. They problem create. They put things together, including their thoughts, in creative and interesting ways. Here’s a few pictures from the day.
At Bernheim’s CONNECT event this year we debuted a new aspect of the festival we called CONNECTglow. CONNECTglow is essentially a light sculpture competition that requires the artists to create spectacle at night without the assistance of AC current. Artists could use fire, batteries, solar power w storage…anything that would allow them to create light without plugging in. Carrie Blaydes and Mike Newsome (with factory handbook) created this whirlwind collection of drift wood they collected from the Falls of the Ohio State Park just across the 2nd Street Bridge from Louisville. The sculpture was erected on the shores of Lake Nevin at Bernheim but now this piece is being moved to the Edible Garden at Bernheim. It should fit in nicely in it’s new home. I’ll post additional pictures once it’s in place and then more pictures next spring once the gardens get installed around it.