Category Archives: Uncategorized

Gone fishin’

For many it’s April Fools Day tomorrow. My youngest daughter gave me the heads up as she was heading to bed that I will be getting quite the trick. Seems like water could be involved. Wish me well….

Here in Nova Scotia it’s also the first day of fishing season. Water will be involved for sure and we’re ready to go. My son was feeling a bit poorly today so I’m hoping he’s on the recovery list tomorrow. We planned months ago for him to take the day off school so we could cast a few.

We’ll update you later in the season on how we’re making out. We’re hoping to hook some striped bass when the time comes in May or June. In case you’re wondering, we’re almost exclusively catch and release anglers. Talk soon – gone fishin’.

LetsGo LEGO – Build a World of Play Challenge

Some great news in this morning’s The Guardian re a new USD 143 million challenge – Build A World of Play – being launched today by The LEGO Foundation. Background and details are available in the Foundation’s news release and at the Build A World of Play Challenge website.

We must start building a world that puts the youngest in society first: building cities, education systems, healthcare systems and solutions to save our planet, at the forefront. This competition is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of the youngest children.

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of the LEGO Foundation

The Challenge focuses on early childhood – from birth to six-years-old – and will consider issues such as early childhood education, nutrition, emotional and social well-being of the family, and violence reduction among others.

LEGOLAND, California

The LEGO Foundation has a longstanding commitment to philanthropic work that benefits children. It is also known for engaging creatively in the promotion of play through global activities and alliances like The Real Play Coalition founded by The LEGO Foundation, Unilever, IKEA Group and the National Geographic Society in Davos in 2018.

We’re a four generation LEGO family here at PlayGroundology. There’s been a lot of building over the years – planes, boats, campers, ice cream trucks, farms, zoo enclosures, playgrounds and I’ve lost count of how many self-designed houses. Years ago, the kids were using blocks from LEGO’s little sister DUPLO as indoor skates. The ingenuity cracked us up….

With the kids getting older the storage area is now home to a big chest that no longer gets hauled out quite as frequently. When the grandchildren or younger neighbourhood kids drop in, out come the little bricks and the imaginations go wild.

Our oldest, now in the process of getting his driving licence, got his start behind the wheel at LEGO Land in California 10 years ago. Their electric car fleet brought a lot of joy to junior drivers and a good amount of laughs for parents. It was a great place to visit with so much less hype than many of the other theme parks.


It’s a fine day when a global corporation walks the walk re corporate social responsibility and spends goodly sums of money on children. That doesn’t preclude us from hoping they will commit more and that others will follow suit. I hope it works out that Low Income Countries and economically disadvantaged communities in High and Middle Income countries are the primary beneficiaries of this Challenge.

LetsGo LEGO!!


IPA Canada National PlayDay – August 4

Play – the Heartbeat of Childhood

Ed’s note – I have had the pleasure of serving as a board member of the International Play Association (IPA) Canada for the last couple of years. It’s been a great introduction to the work they have been doing in support of the child’s right to play over the last few decades.

Recently, IPA Canada has hit the reboot on National PlayDay. It’s an event that had fallen off our radar for a few years and we’re bringing it back to celebrate kids and play. The post below is reproduced from the IPA blog. For more on the background of National PlayDay, click here.

Play is the heartbeat of childhood. At home, in the neighbourhood, at the beach, in community parks and school grounds children embrace the opportunity of making their own fun through play. On August 4, join the International Play Association (IPA) Canada and create your own National PlayDay event.

IPA Canada’s National PlayDay is a celebration of wonder, curiosity, discovery and adventure. It’s all about what children do best. Intuitively children know that play is a renewable source of joy and fun but of course its impact is far broader. In fact, play is one of the defining characteristics of our humanity.

Play resonates with children everywhere. Child-directed play has a universal appeal. It is a heady expression of freedom whenever children are granted the space and time to shape their own activities unencumbered by ongoing adult supervision.

The ‘right to play’ is enshrined in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The General Comments document on article 31 provides additional details that speak to the connection between play and well-being and affirms its critical role and relevance in an increasingly complex world.

Research demonstrates that play exerts a profound influence throughout childhood shaping how we learn, how we express ourselves and how we assess risk and opportunity. Studies from a variety of disciplines reveal that play nurtures children’s physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual development. It is a foundational activity that helps kids interact with and make sense of the world around them.

Play can help children develop resilience and cope with mental health concerns, such as anxiety, that were on the increase during the first wave of the pandemic. For more information about play in times of crisis, free downloadable resources published by IPA World IPA Canada’s international governing body are available here with translations in Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Thai and Turkish.

IPA Canada’s goals are to increase play’s visibility, create greater awareness of the pressing need to get children playing more and encourage parents and communities to be strong agents of play.

There is evidence that change is needed. In Canada, ‘active play’ gets an F in the latest (2020) ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. In practice this means that only 21% of 5- to 11-year-olds engage in active play for more than 1.5 hours per day on average. Two years earlier, active play was given a D. We are moving in the wrong direction.

Canada is not alone. Higher income countries are witnessing a declining incidence of outdoor play and a decrease in independent mobility for kids. These are notable societal shifts that have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recently concluded series of national consultations led by IPA Canada confirmed that there is a growing understanding of play’s role as an important contributor to the healthy development of children. Our discussions with parents, early childhood educators and municipal government representatives are helping to inform new initiatives linked to play leadership and provision as well as the development of resource materials focusing on children’s right to play.

IPA Canada benefits from the support and experience of the IPA international member network. Here in Canada, many accomplished groups and organizations are associated with children’s play. It truly takes a village to make a difference. Other national advocates include The Lawson Foundation, the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, Outdoor Play Canada and the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada.

There is no time like the present to get involved, lend a hand and have some fun working toward creating the conditions that will help play flourish in our homes and communities. Here are some simple ideas to consider and possibly incorporate into IPA Canada National PlayDay events:

  • explore the neighbourhood to discover playful spaces
  • draw on childhood memories of favourite play places and activities for inspiration
  • invite friends to play at home or at a local park
  • in busy households, schedule time for play with children and/or for independent play
  • explore play ideas and resources online

For more information on IPA Canada visit their website and download your copy of the IPA Canada National PlayDay poster and guide.

IPA Canada is a not-for-profit national organization whose mandate is to protect and promote the child’s right to play.

Connect with International Play Association (IPA) Canada

Twitter: @ipa_canada
Facebook: @InternationalPlayCanada

A Chance Encounter

Here we are, Noah and I, starting out on one of our early morning fishing adventures. We make a beeline to a spot that still has a new feeling to it. Down the steep wooded bank we scuffle brushing branches aside to reach the water’s edge. It is still, quiet, and the summer sun is crashing off the water.

Time is a liquid loop, cast… reel… cast… reel. Noah is the leader of our outing. His angling chops are based on years of research and practical field experience. He is happy to share his knowledge of where to find the fish and how to reel them in. He is a generous helper to right my sometimes clumsy mien.

Three smallmouth bass are our reward for a leisurely morning meander along the small lake’s banks. Each one is catch and release, each one is reeled in by my son who will fish anywhere at the drop of a hat.

Following the shore we attempt a walk around the lake. From our vantage point it looks possible. Approaching the farther shore our exploring is temporarily impeded by a brook. On the other side is thick brush, trees with no visible path.

We leave nature behind briefly to cut through a residential area that allows us to access the woods on the other side and walk toward a path that circles the rest of the lake. This is the moment of our chance encounter, a shelter tucked in behind the edge of an urban wood.

It is magnificent in and of itself, even moreso given its location in proximity to residential neighbourhoods. I hope we will work hard to preserve our city’s natural spaces. There is a calmness and quiet abandon in these spaces, a timeless enjoyment in the best company. We will be back on many an occasion…


A Kid’s Purpose

In our contemporary society, there is much energy, thought and in some cases money being invested to explore ways that will make outdoor play more accessible and attractive to kids.  Numerous studies document a general penury of active, outdoor play across many of the high income countries. Kids are more sedentary, spend greater amounts of time indoors and when they do get outside, their freedom of movement, the territory in which they have permission to range is greatly restricted in comparison to previous generations.


Today’s kids are inhabiting a space where special strategies are required to get them outdoors to well, play and have fun. As recently as 30 or 40 years ago, independent, outdoor play was the default – a by the kids, for the kids daily dosing of discovery, amusement and anticipation. Not to get lost in rose-tinted nostalgia, but back in those heady days it was a self-evident truth that there would be play and plenty of it – a kid’s purpose so to speak.

Now, not so much. Gains are being made though. Signposts point to a play renaissance. There are hosts of engaged professionals from the worlds of design, health, recreation, education, urban planning and other disciplines who are working hard to help reverse play’s eroded fortunes and create an environment where it can flourish. Through the development of policies, public education campaigns and programs, collective action is laying the groundwork to reclaim kids’ attention and interest while allaying parents’ fears and concerns.

Safeguarding outdoor play is in the public good as it helps equip kids with lifelong skills and attributes – creativity, resilience and empathy are front runners. This shared responsibility cuts across multiple disciplines and jurisdictions. Local governments for instance have a highly visible role in the provision of public play spaces and recreation programs. Institutions can’t go it alone though.


For all the good work currently underway to truly take root and resonate, it has to get down to individual action. What is a parent or caregiver to do to support play as a central feature in their kids’ lives?

We’ve found an approach that works for us that I’ve tagged the home base principle. It’s pretty straightforward and I’m sure many families are embarked on similar paths. Here are some of the defining characteristics that support the home base principle.

  • Spend unscheduled time at home
  • Welcome the neighbourhood kids and get to know them
  • Make your yard a home base for play – see above welcome the kids
  • Give the kids permission to play
  • Introduce some kid/play magnets
  • Allow for risk, be alert to hazards
  • Be there for the kids when they need you (occasionally someone might get stuck in a tree)
  • Acknowledge their accomplishments and creations
  • Repeat all of the above

Mélanie, my wife, is a real champion in the ‘welcoming neighbourhood kids’ department. This is the foundation for everything else. The sticky social glue keeps pulling them back to a place where they know and sense they can be themselves.


The other day, one of our frequent visitors appeared out of nowhere in our front room. Turns out he had let himself in the back door and walked upstairs unannounced. He is not alone in having reached this comfort threshold. A few of the kids have embraced this familiarity as standard operating procedure.

I asked this grade one lad how he was feeling now that summer holidays were nearly upon us. It seems that the pending release from school is an unreserved cause for happiness. There are a few things on his dance card. In fact, he has a summer fun list. I had to know if coming over to our place was on the list. “No”, he said. “I don’t have to put it on the list because I come here all the time.”

He is one of the several neighbourhood kids who knock on our door, or walk right in as the case may be, multiple and I mean multiple times a day. The outdoors appear to offer no shortage of adventure and play options for the kids. Their discoveries (salamanders are the cause célèbre this week), dust-ups and derring-dos are frequently centered around our backyard.


Our permanent kid magnets consist of two climbable trees with dangling ropes, a small loose parts treasure trove and a couple of adults who let the kids do their own thing and play independently.

The loose parts are important material attributes that I may never have stumbled across had I not become interested in discovering more about play a few years back. It is amazing how a few milk crates, boxes, tarps, car and bicycle tires, odd pieces of lumber, cords of rope and other bric à brac become the stuff of dreams. Without fail they consistently enable imaginative and creative fun.

Thanks here to all the Nova Scotia folks who have helped to bring loose parts experiences to kids at public events. A special shout out to my good friends at Pop-Up Adventure Play who offered some great long distance hand holding during my early loose parts forays and then kicked off their cross-Canada tour here in Halifax a couple of years ago.


There is a lot of FT (Fun Transfer) happening in our backyard and it looks like we still have a few years of this heady world to enjoy. The kids do play elsewhere throughout the neighbourhood but always get pulled back here. They know we’re open for play and experimentation. When they come here they have permission – read an expectation – to do just that….

Mélanie and I often wonder how much the kids will remember of these days. We hope their memories include the great moments of FT, the friendships and the excitement and freedom of playing outdoors.

Caution – if a nice looking yard and manicured grass are important to you, our example may not be your cup of tea. Better Homes and Gardens would run away aghast from the horrors of our small parcel of paradise. In a bow to normalcy, I’ve had to designate a far corner of the backyard as the only zone where digging and worm prospecting can take place. Even so, I arrive home on occasion with a couple of shovels abandoned on the front lawn, accomplices in an illegal dig. Let’s put it this way, I think we’ve been successful transmitting the permission to play message….


Every now and again we need to take a breather and shut down the kid activities to rediscover peace and quiet for a couple of days. Invariably, it isn’t long before our own guys are lobbying and before you know it, the kids come tumblin’ down to start playing again.

Just in case you’re wondering we don’t live in some antediluvian, leave-it-to-beaveresque time warp. Like all parents we have taxing times trying to manage  the double-edged sword of tech – mobile devices, PS4s and streaming entertainment. For the time being we seem to be keeping our head above water but we have to be constantly vigilant. Playing outdoors can be an excellent antidote…. has some great insights on, you guessed it, outside play. Have a playful start to summer.


For Nova Scotia PlayGroundology friends, get ready for the Summer of PLEY a series of activities led by Dalhousie University that kicks off on July 22 with a loose parts, pop-up adventure play extravaganza on the Halifax Common.

High and Dry – No Anchor Required

A lazy wash of waves runs up and down the beach. Colliding rocks tumble from water’s push and pull, their rattling sound like a soft whisper. Sprays of seaweed are drying in the sun – white, brown and yellow. Other treasures are awaiting discovery – sand dollars with their elliptical etchings, whitewashed shells and driftwood sculpted by the sea.

We are alone on the shore walking unhurriedly with no real destination. A breeze from the Gulf of St. Lawrence whisks up sand flurries that dance briefly across the ground’s surface. The kids are in their element skirting the water, toes in, toes out, fingers, digging in packed sand, prying out shimmery rocks. A wooden, sea-cured pole measuring nearly eight feet in length catches their attention. It’s enlisted as an accessory that they drag behind them tracing a sinuous line recording their progress.

Up ahead along the curve of Shallow Bay in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park, a form is taking shape. A tall pole stretches skyward with other bits of wood scattered about its base. One of our kids gives a whoop and runs over to explore. A few steps closer and we are able to make it out. There’s a skinny mast, a well angled bowsprit thrust outward to the sea, a deck and back aft an oversized rudder. It’s a minimalist driftwood sketch of a boat that some kind souls have created, a surprise installation beckoning to the kids to jump aboard.

They each have a go at navigating the bowsprit climbing, or shinnying up the incline.

The full body extension shinny gives them the appearance of living figureheads adorning the HMS Driftwood.

The smooth, uneven spars make balancing on the deck precarious. The crew moves gingerly as they try to find their sea legs.

Is it a sloop, a pirate ship, a catamaran, a yacht? The naming of it is not important. Each child imagines his or her own world. How long will this natural piece, so in tune with its surroundings, last? Wherever we live we can benefit from more of these simple, breathtaking wonders that engage, inspire and invoke play.

Are there temporary playscapes in public spaces within your community – what do they look like, how are they used?

CanadaPlays, eh?

Ed’s note: Looking forward to see what priroties evolve from the IPA triennial summit. It’s a great boost for play in Canada to have Calgary hosting the event. It will help sustain recent activities and advances that have some commenting that there is a renaissance of play underway in the country. From my vantage point out in Nova Scotia’s far east this seems to be wholly possible.

It’s been a great summer of play for our family with adventurous trips spanning six provinces,with plenty of camping interspersed and enjoyment of simple pleasures and slow time in our national parks.

One of my unforgettable highlights is Pop-Up Adventure Play’s touchdown in Halifax for the kickoff of their national tour. It was wonderful to meet the play troubadours in person and get a chance to know them just a little. Halifax loved them as evidenced by the 200+ kids who came out for a loose parts pop-up on Halfax’s South Common – what a blast!!! It’s just so wonderful to see the looks on kids’s faces – animated, euphoric, full of zip and spot on in the moment. Thanks again to Suzanna, Morgan and Andy for sharing your expertise and enthusiasm with communites across the country.

I’m thinking ahead already to the next triennial gathering. I’ll be better prepared and make sure to get my application in before it sells out!

For those in Calgary – have a great conference…

Welcome to all International Play Association (IPA) delegates and participants kicking off the organization’s triennial conference in Calgary this week. It’s a brilliant idea to host the play world here in Canada during the country’s 150th anniversary. Kudos to all those who helped design an excellent program with outstanding speakers and presenters representing play traditions, practices and research from around the globe. In this post, CanadaPlays, with the help of sister blog PlayGroundology, is putting a little Canadiana in the window to help you get your bearings and have a playful time while here.

Original artwork by Kyle Jackson now hanging at Alderney Landing Library in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

National Treasures

First up, let’s share a couple of national treasures with you. Cornelia Hahn Oberlander has had children at heart all her life. She first designed public housing playgrounds in the US in the 1950s with architects Louis Kahn and Oskar Stonorov. This was shortly after being amongst the first women to graduate from Harvard as a landscape architect and prior to moving to her adopted home, in British Columbia, Canada.

In 1967, as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations, Cornelia was invited to design the playground at the Children’s Creative Centre as part of the Canadian pavilion at Expo 67. Mr. PlayGroundology was 10 at the time but sadly our family never made the trip from Toronto to Montreal for the party of parties marking our 100th birthday though I remember a lot of fun from that summer nonetheless. By all accounts the kids who were able to give the Expo 67 playscape a whirl liked it a lot.

This clip is excerpted from the National Film Board of Canada documentary, The Canadian Pavilion, Expo 67. Following Expo, Cornelia participated in the creation of national playground guidelines and designed more than 70 across the country. A few years back, she was kind enough to speak with me on the phone thanks to an introduction from the folks at space2place.

Source: Expo 67 Ccreative Children’s Centre – Canadian Centre for Architecture

Aside from sharing a wonderful bibliography with me, I remember how she emphasized simplicity remarking, and I’m paraphrasing here, that to have fun all kids really need is sand, water and something to climb… Thank you Cornelia for all your contributions not only to play in Canada but to the greening of our urban landscapes.


Inside, Upside – Harmonic Motion, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam installation at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, 2013. Credit – Roberto Boccaccino

From her home in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam creates aerial textile play environments that are a riot of movement and pulsating colours. Prior to dedicating her artistic vision to designing an unparalleled play experience for kids, Toshiko exhibited her textile art at prominent galleries and museums in Japan, the US and Europe. At one point, she questioned whether there was more to life than prepping for shows and hosting vernissages. A few years ago, my then four-year-old daughter Nellie-Rose accompanied me on the first PlayGroundology road trip. We had lunch with Toshiko and her partner Charles in their home and learned how her wondrous woven webs of play are the creative fabric that warms her life.

Outside, Flipside – Harmonic Motion, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam installation at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, 2013. Credit – Roberto Boccaccino

As Toshiko transitioned away from the art exhibition world, she spent weekends over the course of three years walking around neighbourhoods in her native Japan. This research and exploration of the where, what and how of kids’ play convinced her that there was an opportunity to introduce some new concepts rooted in textile sculpture. Toshiko’s play sculptures are found in prominent locations in Japan, including the Hakone Open-Air Museum, and a variety of Asian countries. The large scale sculptures have yet make any real headway in North America or Europe outside of exhibit spaces. Toshiko works with Norihide Imagawa, one of Japan’s foremost structural designers and engineers to ensure maximum integrity and safety of each of her play sculptures. Photos of her play sculptures have created a couple of online surges of interest in her work from the design, architecture and play communities. Let’s hope that kids in more communities around the world will have the opportunity to revel in unbridled play in one of Toshiko’s lovingly crafted creations…



There are an increasing number of organizations across the country who contribute to promoting, programming and researching about play. In no particular order here is a partial list that provides a sampling of some of the activity underway in Canada: Le lion et la souris (Montréal, QC); Active Kids Club (Toronto, ON); Integrate Play Solutions (BC); (British Columbia); Active for Life (QC); Centre for Local Research into Public Space (CELOS) and Dufferin Grove Park (Toronto, ON); Calgary Playground Review (Calgary, AB); Manitoba Nature Summit (Winnipeg, MB); The Lawson Foundation (Toronto, ON); ParticipACTION (Toronto, ON); Playground Builders (Whistler, BC); CanadaPlays (Eastern Passage, NS) And let’s not forget a shout to all those whose work supports play in their roles with municipal, provincial and federal governments and service organizations.

Click through on photo or here


Playmakers – Designers and Builders

This a small selection of Canadian companies creating custom playscapes.


Carcross Commons – Tagish First Nation, Carcross, Yukon

Earthscape has developed a substantial catalogue of custom design and build playscapes that have been installed throughout the country. Each Earthscape project is unique. I’m thrilled that Halifax gave an Earthscape project the green light in 2016. The company is now exporting and has installed a super slide on New York City’s Governors Island.

Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat – Daily tous les jours

A sensation in Montreal since the original 21 balançoires were introduced in the Quartier des spectacles in 2011. Every day each swing swung an average of 8,500 times. An adaptation of the original installation has been touring North American cities. A musical swings impact study is available here.


Completed in 2008, space2place’s Garden City Play Environment in Richmond, British Columbia was ahead of the curve in the context of Canadian fixed structure playgrounds. There is a great write up of this space published in The Vancouver Sun shortly after its opening.


McCleary Playground downtown Toronto – 2008

Adam Bienenstock was at the front end of the natural playground surge and continues to bring his personal brand and vision to schools, communities and settings in the natural environment in Canada and beyond.


Children’s Rights

In Montreal’s Salamander Playground atop Mount Royal Park, Québecois artist Gérard Dansereau has created a series of original tiles embedded throughout the play area to commemorate and draw attention to the Conventions on the Rights of the Child as elaborated and promoted by UNICEF. I have added the English to my favourite tile from the series below. Other tiles available to view here.


The Poutine of Play

Poutine has gone from a well-loved, known locally only Québec delicacy to an international phenomenon. Could it be that ballon-poire will travel a similar trajectory exporting a culturally branded Québecois game around the globe? I’ve seen the game played just once and even though I have no understanding of the rules, it attracted me immediately. It is easy to see that eye – hand coordination is certainly de rigueur. The girls in the clip below are spelling out a word but I didn’t stay long enough to capture it all. There are a number of variations to the game accompanied to different call and answers as the players whump the punch bag back and forth as quickly as they can. I’m looking forward to gaining a better understanding of how the game is played some day and hopefully giving it a whirl myself.


Cultural Institutions


It wouldn’t be Canada without the country’s never-ending love affair with hockey. Enjoy this animated short, The Sweater, by Roch Carrier my former boss at the Canada Council for the Arts. It’s a heart warming story that revolves around one of the sport’s great rivalries between les Canadiens and the Leafs.

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

If you have any down time during the conference, the NFB is a great online viewing theatre with hundreds of free titles to choose from including this surprising short!

If you have any down time during the conference, the NFB is a great online viewing theatre with hundreds of free titles to choose from including this surprising short!


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

For news and current affairs tune into our public broadcaster CBC. There is a great vareity of programming including a short series broadcast earlier this summer, The lost art of play.


Best Signage Ever About Risk and Play is in Calgary!

This photo was sent to me by my cousin, an avid cyclist from the Toronto area, just over a year ago. I mistakenly thought that it was snapped on one of his rides out in the countryside but I was quickly advised of my error by readers. This sign, the most popular post on PlayGroundology Facebook with nearly 5K shares and a 645K reach, is located at Calgary’s TELUS Spark Brainasium.


Beware the Risk of Acronyms

Many Canadians can be forgiven if they develop a sudden thirst on seeing the organization’s acronym IPA because what may be foremost in their minds is quaffing a cold one and enjoying a beloved India Pale Ale. Treat yourself to a viewing of I Am Canadian, a very popular rant/ad from 2000 starring Jeff Douglas now the co-host of one of CBC Radio’s flagship programs, As It Happens.


The Sounds of Joy

A group of school children enjoy one of Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam’s installations in Japan. The excitement and joy are contagious. You may have to reset your quality to 480p when you play this clip on YouTube.


Best Wishes for a Great Conference

Snow, Ice, Motion – It’s -39 C – Keep On Moving

Quebec City's Big Chill

It’s very cold outside but there’s lots to do to keep warm and have fun on the Plains of Abraham battlegrounds – the old champs de batailles – in Quebec City for the annual Carnaval.

Click on the image above, or here for a kid’s Carnaval photo story.

Save Emdrup Adventure Playground | Love Outdoor Play

For those of us who are passionate about independent, outdoor play for kids with an accent on adventure, we owe a huge thank you for the brilliance of the Emdrup experience which continues to shine brightly in pockets here and there around the globe. If you are a lover of adventure playgrounds, add your voice to those who are campaigning to save this treasure.

“Changes by the local authority will see children segregated by age to make the playground a more traditional day care centre. Older children will be moved out. Staff and supporters are afraid this will lead to increasing restrictions in free play and risk, losing the ‘children’s democracy’ and autonomy that has characterised the site for over 70 years.”

You can support the Emdrup campaign by writing to Dorthe Rasmussen Kjær at

Thanks to Tim Gill and Play England for sharing this information

Rethinking Childhood

I was lucky enough to visit Emdrup – the world’s first adventure playground –  on a study visit to Copenhagen in 2003, and I still remember its relaxed, low-tech, quietly self-assured ambience. It would be tantamount to a crime against children’s culture to stand by and see its spirit die as a result of bureaucratic whim.

Emdrup, 2003. Photo credit: Ben Spencer Emdrup, 2003. Photo credit: Ben Spencer

Please do what you can to save it. Details are in the reblogged post. You may want to highlight why it matters for children and young people of widely differing ages to be given the chance to play together. US psychologist Peter Gray has good things to say on this [pdf link].

For more on the adventure playground model and the debt it owes to Emdrup, see this 2014 Guardian article.

Hats off to Play England for sharing news of this campaign.

Please note the title of the blog post that…

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10 Ways to Build a City for Children • This City Life

A nice intro and overview from Tim on some work from Vancouver-based urbanist Jillian Glover that includes her original tumblr post. The actual doing of making cities better places for kids and families continues to be a challenge for jurisdictions around the world. Some good thoughts here – Both Tim and Jillian are always interested in ideas on this subject. Thanks Tim for the intro to Jillian’s work.

Rethinking Childhood

A snappy ten-point checklist for a child-friendly city has been pulled together by Vancouver urbanist and writer Jillian Glover. I confess I am cautious about the ‘top tips’ style of writing, which can lead to oversimplification. But this ticked a lot of my boxes.

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