Oct 31, 2016

Special Blog Report: from China!

I still can't quite believe it myself, but I just got back from a week-long study tour in Anji County, China.  The AnjiPlay people invited me to come and tour the original AnjiPlay schools of Anji County and to share stories from my Wild Rumpuses this past summer.  What a trip!  I'm still processing the enormous amount of knowledge that I gained from being there and I can't wait to start developing my upcoming indoor AnjiPlay programs. For now, here are a few photos for you to enjoy:

Of course, the librarian in me loved seeing this little library with colorful, comfy chairs for the kids to sit on right inside the entryway of one of the schools we visited.
Here are some familiar titles in an unfamiliar language:
Also, Pierre, my storytime mascot puppet came along on the trip with me.  He loved looking at the books too!
 Loved seeing these two boys reading together!
 Although most of the block play took place outside, at one school where it was raining, one of the classes was taking blocks into an indoor classroom.

 These girls were have a very exciting experience with engineering balance, center of gravity, height and weight (despite the hands-on balancing, this tower fell immediately after the photo was taken, but they just re-built it with a different design!).  They were also learning about cooperation, creativity, design & symmetry!
 And check out these elaborate constructions!  With small blocks:
 and large blocks (two different types of tables and chair sets below):
(this one is a donut shop!)
 Every classroom had a plant area
 But I especially loved that this class had magnifying glasses nearby and that a student was using them as I walked by.
Many classrooms also had an area with some small animals.  My favorite were the crawdads, but Pierre's favorite were the turtles:

 And, of course, the outdoor play was absolutely astounding.  Just look at one small inner courtyard at one of the schools.  Don't you want to play here?:

Tree climbing with ladders,
 These kids waiting their turn to try out the sliding pad they'd added to this ladder slide that they built:
 When you supply an enormous amount of ladders...
 Children's imagination and ingenuity can soar to amazing heights!
 The sandboxes were incredible -- large, deep and usually near a source of running water to make the most amazing trenches and gulleys and bridges.  It was raining on the day we visited this playground, but in the sand and water areas the kids often wore their rain gear anyway just to stay clean and dry.  Brilliant!

 I super-love this little wood-stump labyrinth.  Dear Madison Parks Division.... can you build us one of these at our park?  Pretty please?
 Besides the sandboxes, many of the playgrounds also had beautiful water play areas. (It was a drizzly rainy day when we visited, so everyone was wearing their special rainsuits and awesome rain hats.)
 And this playground even included a wooden cook stove with incorporated wok. Yes, with real fire that the kids stoked themselves.  Apparently, the parents of these children had actually requested this element because, since their own houses largely have modern appliances, they were afraid that their children would lose this central element of their cultural heritage and so now it's incorporated into their play at school.
Painting areas often included defunct cars -- fun to paint and fun for pretend road trips!
The challenging art of transferring a 3D structure to a 2D drawing:

I saw lots of Play Stories being created:
But I also learned for the first time about Play Planning -- a pre-play activity that will definitely be incorporated into my upcoming programs!
One of the highlights of the trip for me was being invited to speak about my Wild Rumpus summer events to a room full of school principals from all over China (as well as my fellow study tour group participants).  What an absolute honor! (this photo is during the Q&A session at the end.  The person speaking is a school principal from Mongolia and her translator. Note the camera crew -- I think from a local news station? Eep!)

Now that I'm home, I am just starting to organize all of the information that I took in over the last week.  I'm looking forward to weaving this new learning into my library work and I'm looking forward to going back to China again someday.  There is so much more to learn from these amazing educators!  I am so incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity.

Oct 27, 2016

Oct 26, 2016

The Supper Club presents [more] Monster Apps!

I can't resist monsters in October!  Here is my second (annual?) monster app round-up:

Takeout Box:  

Our hands-on activity tonight was this great free printable based on the Monster Mingle app.  Print it out yourself and enjoy it at home! 

On a sidenote, this month I FINALLY got the wireless hook-up to work and was able to wander around the room and allow kids to interact directly with the touchscreen while I demonstrated it.  (So exciting!) If you've been wishing for a more interactive Supper Club experience, the time is now!

Can't get enough monster apps?  Check out last year's list!

Oct 25, 2016

"Chomp" on Talk of the Town

This is a little late, but I just realized I'd never posted it here.  In early September of this year, I made an appearance on Talk of the Town (a local cable access show) to talk about librarians and apps.  You can see me demonstrating the app Chomp here.  (as a seasonal side note, this app currently has a Halloween update with a few extra spooky & silly animations for fun.) Enjoy!

Oct 19, 2016

WonderWorks: Let's add blocks to the mix

All of the fun from the past two weeks, plus now we add in blocks.

Today's Topic:  PLAY!
all of the supplies from the last two weeks

cover art Blocks / Dickson, Irene
*note: this book, on first glance, is a lovely book about play and sharing (which is fine on its own) but the brilliance of the illustrations really becomes apparent when you pay attention to the gutter (or the crease where the right page and left page meet as you're reading through the book) and how the illustrator has chosen to lay out the illustrations across the gutter.  Also, the endpapers are perfect.  And the characters are diverse.  Love this book for so many reasons!

Oct 12, 2016

WonderWorks: Tunnels & Tubes

What can you do with a tube?

Today's Topic: Tunnels & Tubes
pop-up tunnels
cardboard tubes (I got mine from a carpet store and had some cut down to a shorter size)
toy cars
the water play equipment from last week

 cover art Sam & Dave dig a hole / Barnett, Mac

Oct 3, 2016

The Supper Club presents: Math Apps!

Here are the math apps we talked about this month at the Supper Club.  There are MILLIONS of math apps in the app store, but most seem to be really rote learning even if they're dressed up like play.  These apps below seem to do a much better job of just incorporating math concepts into real-world concepts.  Enjoy!

Activity: geoboards!

Oct 1, 2016

Mini Wild Rumpus at Trucks & Treasures

I took some of the Wild Rumpus materials to Reindahl Park last weekend and invited families to play as part of the Trucks & Treasures event.  We talked to over 200 people!  Here's a few photos of what happened:

Lots of water wall action:
 This young kiddo figured out how to roll inflated inner tubes!
 There is a younger sibling inside this tunnel....
 still there!  soooo heavvvvyyyyy......
 This little guy is doing some excellent drumming on a circle block:
 And this one is having a blast stacking rings on his grandma's head!
 I think this might be railroad tracks?
 And, with the incentive of a free book if you complete a Play Story, there were many completed play stories this time!
 Here's a fort:
 And here's the Play Story version of the fort!
 Here's the play story version of the water wall (see the holes?  the funnel?
 "the blue squiggly line is the water and the green lines are the tubes."
 I love all the rings in this one and the ladder, but I'm not sure what the swing-like things are?

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