Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Playground Philosophy

"The Imagination Playground will, however, have hundreds of what play theorists call 'loose parts:' big, lightweight blocks made from bright-blue molded foam."

Rebecca Mead, "State of Play," The New Yorker, July 5, 2010

This is an excellent overview of the history of playground theory and reform, including junk playgrounds and adventure playgrounds, and the latest innovations in the placespace world by a handful of architects and, of course,Kaboom.

One piece of always-useful information that is missing is where kids actually play --and how that has changed during the past decades. Kevin Lynch wrote about this topic -- and from an international perspective.

Having not grown up with a lego-fed imagination, I wonder whether pre-cut, fitted, foam pieces, however versatile, offer the sane opportunity for imaginative and constructive play, building, and teamwork. Likewise, does the assembly and reassembly of foam pieces teach the same "responsibility of freedom?"

Maybe we need some comparative evaluations or assessments or thick observations of these various kinds of loose parts to see how kids use them differently or the same -- and with what effects.

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