Bernheim’s Children at Play Network was invited to help host an opportunity for children to weigh in on the design of future play areas at the Portland Museum for their AHOY (Adventure House Of You) project. The CAPN design team was delighted to participate since one of our seven belief statements is:
Children have a right to be included in the process of designing play environments
A wonderous and diverse group of young play designers met on a Saturday morning to work individually and collectively on design ideas for the AHOY project. The Portland Museum and CAPN pulled together a bunch of loose parts that included sticks, clay, wooden blocks, odd shaped cedar parts, string, thread spools, and cardboard – among lots of other things – for the children to construct their play visions. We met with the Portland Museum team in advance to plan out the day and make sure everything was in place for a successful design charrette. One of the advance discussion items included coming up with activities to occupy the children should they NOT be interested in designing play landscapes for two hours straight. Turns out that wasn’t even remotely necessary. In part because if you give children enough loose parts and then get out of their way they are quite fine figuring out how to apply their time. The outcome of all of this is that the Portland Museum team came away with robust documentation of the day that will help the future design professionals live up to the children’s visions for the play landscape they will occupy. When you host design exercises with children you aren’t necessarily looking for design drawings that will be turned over to a construction team. You are, however, looking for grand ideas, themes, interesting twists that only children can provide, and what excites children about play. Some really wonderful insights spilled out of the day that will surely find life in the future of the AHOY play landscapes.
“What was especially eye opening about this experience were all the ways in HOW kids play- with or without others, quiet or loud, internal or external, using their voice to paint a scene or physically building structures. As an artist, I approach our playcosystem in terms of design, look, and feel which generally operate in a static/unchangeable world; this charette emphasized the importance of malleability. I hope to embrace areas kids can change! Offering spaces where they can build, deconstruct, and remake every day. I am grateful for CAPN’s expertise in facilitating conversations with kids – clear explanations and expectations at the front end of the activity made the rest of the day smooth and an all-around blast for everyone involved.” – Shannon Delahanty, Creative Coordinator – Portland Museum
If you are interested in having the Children at Play Network help your organization host a children’s participatory design charrette please get in touch with us.
Here is a collection of photos from the day courtesy of the Portland Museum team that captured photos, video, quotes from the children, words and expressions, and other information that will help inform next steps for their play landscapes
The CAPN Believes:
- Free play honors and connects us with the nature of being human
- Healthy play environments are part of the foundation of healthy communities
- Every child has a right to natural play environments that support their healthy development
- Children have a right to be included in the process of designing play environments
- Free play in nature nurtures the next generation of environmental stewards
- Play work is a revolutionary practice that directly confronts systemic problems
- Play work is collaborative