Category Archives: Swings

Reeling through the Years II – Somewhere over the Rainbow

Thanks to PlayGroundology’s 500+ subscribers and readers from over 140 countries, the blog has clocked nearly 600,000 page views since January 2010. I had no idea at the outset how it would all play out. It’s a great ongoing adventure and journey of discovery.

This hobby, morphed into an unpaid vocation of sorts, has opened so many doors. I meet play ambassadors from around the world and hear from readers on how they are inspired by specific posts. Most of these encounters take place online but it’s been a real treat to meet some folks in person in Glasgow, Toronto, San Diego and right here at home in Halifax.

There are just so many inspiring stories about play and kids. There is also a lot of important advocacy work to be done to ensure all kids have an opportunity to play. As PlayGroundology gears up for its ninth year, we’ll be sharing some of our milestone stories with you throughout the month of January. I hope you enjoy this second installment.

Kids at Play – flickr Photo Gallery – July 29, 2011

Flickr is a great source of visuals for play. This is one of the earlier flickr galleries I put together. There have been over 2,000 views but I think the quality of the photos of kids from around the world playing is very evocative and well worth a look. Let me know what you think if you click on through.

All told I’ve curated 35 galleries. Among them is Swedish Aesthetic which was picked up and promoted by the flickr blog. There is really nothing quite as marvellous as a fine shot of a kid at play.

The Playground Paradise Principle – Malmö, Sweden – February 6, 2012

It’s not everyday that you’re going to see a rainbow slide. Truly they should be de rigueur wherever small kids gather. This Swedish city has embraced the value of play and has become a bit of a destination for families from other parts of the continent. The municipal government even offers study tours of their play spaces that also includes pitches for the locally invented puckelball.

Paradise might be a bit of a stretch but Malmö, Sweden is quite simply playgroundalicious. It’s the kind of place that would inspire Mary Poppins to gather her young charges around her and umbrella them off to adventure – up through the atmosphere/ up where the air is clear/ let’s all/ go to Malmö.

So if anyone ever has spare airline tickets to Malmö don’t forget to give me call. Copenhagen would be fine too, I’d just take a drive across the Oresund bridge…

Sir Ken of TEDalot on Play and Learning – May 6, 2012

British education reformer Sir Ken Robinson’s TedTalks have racked up millions of views. He is a great storyteller who is passionate about his subject matter and audience. I was lucky enough to see him in person at an event in Halifax several years back and used it as an opportunity to reach out and ask about play.

There are three key terms when we come to think about play. The first is imagination, the second is creativity and the third is innovation.

Sir Ken warmed to the play topic and waxed on for about 5 minutes which you can read about here.

The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging – June 28, 2012

When was the last time you had a swing? It’s been too long for me. I really must remedy that.

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. Swings are all grace and simplicity as they trace their airy arcs. In downward sweeps there is the tickling acceleration of free fall. Then as the pendulum tracks the outer bounds of its trajectory, the weighty hand of gravity pulls down.

A couple of more installments coming your way over the coming weeks.

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Looping through Estonian skies

As a kid, the ultimate playground fantasy was to go up, up and over on the swings. No matter how furiously we pumped, whether in a sitting or standing position, the arcs we traced rarely took us much higher than the first 90° quadrant.

1200px-kiiking_tartus Kiiking – Estonia’s answer to childhood fantasies. Photo credit – Eesti Kiikingi Liit

By my unscientific polling, the curiosity, if not the desire, of going up and over is universal. It’s a theme all my kids have talked and wondered about it at some point. And what parent has not heard the insistent refrain, “higher, higher” while pushing their child skyward to touch the passing birds, the clouds, the sun?

We all talked a good game of how exciting it would be to launch ourselves up and over wrapping the chain link around the bar and hurtling through a full 360° sky scrape. It was all pie in the sky musings though. None of us had the strength, ability or courage to loop the loop.

kiikingThe kiiking fields – Estonia. Photo credit – Eesti Kiikingi Liit

In fact our loop the loop dreaming was likely a physical impossibility. The chain links that our swing seats hung from were two to three metres in length. Chances are they would have collapsed if we were ever able to propel ourselves into the top of the second quadrant. Kiiking’s inventor Ado Kosk overcame this by using rods to attach the swing seat to the spindle and the rest, as they say, is history.

In Estonia, there is a cultural tradition of communal swings in towns and villages, swings that can accommodate multiple people at a time. Kiiking is a radical departure defining a new tradition of sport and athleticism. Since its invention in the mid-1990s, kiiking has won over enthusiasts in New Zealand, the US and various European countries. What are the chances of this new sport ever being part of an Olympic line up?

Look no further if you’re in search of a good workout and a risky business adrenalin rush – kiiking may possibly be your kind of activity. Kids are kiiking and I like to think that I would have the nerve to alley-oop, loop the loop. Tying in feet and hands, as is frequently done in competitive kiiking, is a safety factor that appeals to me.

Don’t ask me why but I think this late 20th century sport would be right at home as a component of Scottish highland games, or a modern day circus, perhaps even going back in time to the era of Astérix and Obélisk. Speaking of cartoon characters, couldn’t you just see Fred and Barney of Flintstones fame having a go with this?

Kiik it…..

Jump

Jump

Somewhere in urban America, sometime ago, this lad jumped. And what a leap as he sails toward the fence.

If anyone knows the photographer, the jumper or the story behind this photo, I’d love to hear from you.

I jumped from a swing in motion when I was a kid and lived to tell the tale. It never approached the drama or daredevilry of the image above but nevertheless my buddies and I felt like we were living a little on the edge.

My young kids are doing it now too. There are such looks of wonder, fear and elation rapidly shifting across their faces as they fling themselves through the air.

This is a concrete example of a playground activity where kids assess risk. It’s all about their own ability and judgment as they face off against gravity.

Check the facial expressions and aerial acrobatics of these jumpers captured by flickr photographers and curated by PlayGroundology in JUMP.

2722837321_74639701fd_zPhoto credit – Wayne Silver. License – (CC BY 2.0)

Get out there and JUMP!

If you’re a swing lover, you may also enjoy – The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging.

PlayGroundology’s on Cloud Nine

PlayGroundology has just wrapped its third year of blogging about the world of play and playgrounds. Following are nine posts that readers found popular. If you didn’t see them first time around, I hope you’ll take a moment to sample two, or three. If you like them, share with others – play never has a best before date. Happy playing and thanks for reading PlayGroundology!

Sculpted in France – Concrete Art Playgrounds

Photo credit: J. Bruchet. Source: Architectures de cartes postales. Designer: Pierre Székely. Cité des Jeux – L’Haÿ-les-Roses, France

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for France so I’m always on the lookout for interesting play stories from that part of the world. Our family lived there in the early 70s. I was 12 when we arrived and 15 when we left. It was my gawky early adolescent phase which I like to think I’ve outgrown. (more…)

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Just Play

J

Just Play

play play
whether it’s alone or with friends
within four walls or under a great canvas of sky
just play

there are not enough hours
in a heartful life
to miss kaleidoscoping fun (more…)

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The Playground Paradise Principle

Paradise might be a bit of a stretch but Malmö, Sweden is quite simply playgroundalicious. It’s the kind of place that would inspire Mary Poppins to gather her young charges around her and umbrella them off to adventure – up through the atmosphere/ up where the air is clear/ let’s all/ go to Malmö. (more…)

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London’s Somerford Grove Adventure Playground Makes The New York Times Magazine

Source: Haringey Play Association. Click image to enlarge

There are four stunning, brilliant images in the March 1 edition of the The New York Times Magazine offering glimpses of children at the Somerford Grove Adventure Playground in London, England. (more…)

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A Journey of Epic Proportions

How do you spice up your morning commute to work and at the same time make it more meaningful? Look no further than my friend Chris Gregory for an answer. Chris is a champion for play at the Isle of Man’s leading children’s charity The Children’s Centre. To raise awareness for outdoor play and safe and playful routes for children, he is taking a different means of self propelled transport every workday for the month of March. His epic journey started out with a 3 kilometer spacehopper commute. Do I hear sore thighs? (more…) Note, Chris is in training for his second run at March 2 Work.

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Imagining a Better Future – Playtime in Africa

Source: Mmofra Foundation. Click image to enlarge

Two acres of green space in the Dzorwulu neighbourhood of Accra, Ghana are being primed for transformation. It’s all about the kids, or Mmofra as they are called in Ghana’s Akan language.

This story, about a small plot of land, spans decades, continents and generations. It’s the story of a woman’s vision, of her love for children. The seeds were sown 50 years ago when the late Efua Sutherland wrote her groundbreaking book on Ghana’s play culture, Playtime in Africa. The narrative and accompanying photographs by Willis E. Bell were the first real documentation of children’s play in the newly independent African nation. (more…)

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Sir Ken of TEDalot on Play and Learning

Earlier this spring, Sir Ken (Robinson) shared his views on education with an appreciative audience in Halifax, Nova Scotia – home of PlayGroundology. I was one of the 1,000 in attendance who enjoyed an accomplished and entertaining critic of conventional wisdom about education and creativity. No props, no notes, plenty of humourous asides and always an à propos anecdote. (more…)

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Have You Heard What They’re Saying About RISK? Listen Then Share

Generally speaking, parents want their kids to experience the fullness of the world – the quiet beauty, the dizzying adventure, the discovery of self and others. As much as possible we want to keep hurt and injury at bay but they too are part of the mix with cuts, scrapes and breaks both corporeal and psychological. So how do we go about assessing risk? How do we ensure that our kids aren’t enclosed in a cocoon of safety?

I saw this video a couple of nights ago and thought I would play a small role in helping to spread the word. Right now it’s at 373 views. After you’ve watched it, please share with your friends and your broader network.

Thanks to the Alliance for Childhood and KaBOOM! for producing this piece.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. When I saw Teena Marie Fancey’s Baby Boy at The Craig Gallery on Dartmouth, Nova Scotia’s waterfront a couple of years ago, I knew I had found a great opening image for a paean to swings. Thanks Teena. (more…)

The Electric Art of Swinging

I’m a sucker for swings. They can be a gentle relaxing glide, or a drop thrill sweeping ride.

In Portugal this past week, as part of the European Capital of Culture in Guimarães, a pop-up swing installation greeted visitors to the International Centre for the Arts Jose de Guimarães.

Source: moradavaga 2012

Constructed on a foundation of donated pallets, the wooden block swings generated electricity by rigging up bicycle chains and wheels to capture the energy of arcing motion.

See how it works here in this short video produced by the Moradavaga Collective for their playable public art, SWING.

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SWING is art, play and a tribute to the city’s industrial heritage.

If you love swings check these earlier PlayGroundology posts: In Montreal the Swings Are Alive With The Sound of Music; The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging.

Drop in on PlayGroundology’s FB page for a video posted earlier today of a wild rope swing ride shot in Utah.

Flickr Swings

This is a companion post to The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging. Click through here to a curated flickr gallery of 18 swing photos from around the world including an Independence Day themed shot for our American readers.

Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia – Canada Day, July 1, 2012

Do you have a favourite photo of swings? Post it on PlayGroundology’s Facebook page.

The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. When I saw Teena Marie Fancey’s Baby Boy at The Craig Gallery on Dartmouth, Nova Scotia’s waterfront a couple of years ago, I knew I had found a great opening image for a paean to swings. Thanks Teena.

Swings are all grace and simplicity as they trace their airy arcs. In downward sweeps there is the tickling acceleration of free fall. Then as the pendulum tracks the outer bounds of its trajectory, the weighty hand of gravity pulls down.

The rise and fall, earth to sky movement is one of the first experiences that parents and children share together at the playground. It’s the bond of the baby swings – push, push away and then fall back into papa or mama’s loving embrace.

There are milestones – graduating from baby to big kids swing, getting on unassisted, giving another child a push, pumping and propelling through the air unaided, standing up swinging, twosome riding one person standing and one sitting, helicoptering and flying off the seat into a heart stopping jump.

And what a variety of swings, of choices – rope, lawn, glider, tire swings and the truly inventive ones like this got you over a barrel model from India.

via flickr by Eileen Delhi. Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Years ago when my art college daughter was just a tyke and I was finding my way as a single dad, we were regulars at a playground not far from our home. We created our own fun activities and for the longest time one of our favourites was the elliptical whirl of the tire swing.

For Alexa the velocity and tilt were exhilarating. For me, the rhythmic repetition of the pushing was a soothing release at the end of the day. We both remember the little ditty we sang together as she whizzed through air…

round and round and round
she goes
where she stops
nobody knows

round and round
on the tire swing
high in the sky
like a bird on a wing

People do love their tire swings and can get downright sentimental about them. Just check this Flickr group dedicated to one of the earlier recycling ideas for an industrial product.

Swings have also become part of the public art vernacular in some cityscapes. For two consecutive summers, Montrealers have been able to create their own downtown symphony of swings with the temporary 21 Balançoires installation. This is one of the more popular PlayGroundology posts.

And who knew that one day this elemental piece of equipment would inspire its own movement? The Red Swing Project installs swings anonymously in unlikely venues. This international band of merrymakers has hung swings in the USA, India, Thailand, Brasil, Taiwan, South Korea, France, Spain, Portugal, Haiti and Poland.

In their timelessness, swings are chic, à la mode.
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I found this lovely necklace by Calourette on a SwissMiss blog post. If you’re not familiar with Tina Roth Eisenberg aka SwissMiss don’t miss her site on all things design which was recently featured on Say:100

And wait, just before we go, did I hear tattoo? Fellow Canadian Marc Johns has created this wonderful line drawing – Playground – that is also available as a tattly. The line drawing looks like this.

Find a few moments this weekend to swing through the summer sky, let your toes touch the stars. We’re never too old for that climb and drop sensation.

Keep on swingin’.