Cubby House

The Kids Under Cover Cubby House village was once again a strong drawcard for visitors to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

Five building and architectural teams built their dream cubbies for the 2016 Kids Under Cover Cubby House Challenge. The cubbies were judged by a panel of experts and then auctioned during a fundraising event on the opening night of the Show.

The creativity and thought which went into the designs was inspiring and spot-on, if the enthusiasm of the children exploring them was any indication.

The Cubby House Challenge & auction raises money for Kids Under Cover, helping homeless and at risk young people. View the amazing 2016 cubby houses!

Source: Kids Under Cover 2016 Cubby House Challenge & Auction

Geomag

alert_red Warning: CONTAINS STRONG MAGNETS. Keep away from sensitive devices such as credit cards, computers, magnetic media and medical devices like pacemakers.

Geomag’s Kor Eggs are 3D spherical magnetic playsets with 55 fully playable pieces, that quickly and firmly attach through the wondrous power of magnetism. The Kor Egg offers limitless creations.

Like all of Geomag’s award winning products, the Kor Egg is Swiss made to international safety standards.

Geomagworld SA has fostered simultaneous learning and creativity since 2008. All Geomag products are designed, developed, and produced in Switzerland and follow the highest European and American safety and quality standards.

At Geomag, their priority is designing toys that amuse and stimulate children’s sense of fantasy, curiosity, and creativity. Helping young minds hone their abstract problem solving and complex reasoning skills is crucial for their transition into functioning adults, and all Geomag products reflect that mentality.

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Softened peas and sharpened sticks were used by Friedrich Froebel for children to make structures.

BRIO Builder

BRIO Builder is a unique, wooden based construction system where the child is the constructor!

Junior builders can create sturdy models with realistic details by using the interchangeable play pieces.

Beyond bricks and sticks, Brio Builder make things a child can actually play with!

Real construction, not just simple snap together; comes complete with a hammer, screwdriver, pliers and a wrench. Build a race car, jet plane, construction vehicle and more.

Your adventure is as broad as your imagination

• Helps promote creativity, imagination, fine motor skills and open ended play
• A fun way to practice hand eye coordination.

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BRIO Builder encourages children to build their own toys – either from their own imagination or from model pictures. When building, children exercise a number of skills; learning to sort and see patterns, all while making sense of the world around them.

Instruction manuals for all BRIO Builder products.

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Praxis

Praxis may be described as a form of critical thinking and comprises the combination of reflection and action.

Praxis can be viewed as a progression of cognitive and physical actions:

  1. Taking the action
  2. Considering the impacts of the action
  3. Analysing the results of the action by reflecting upon it
  4. Altering and revising conceptions and planning following reflection
  5. Implementing these plans in further actions

This creates a cycle which can be viewed in terms of educational settings, learners and educational facilitators.

Praxis has been described as:

“doing something, and then only afterwards, finding out why you did it”

Few educators speak of praxis. While praxis may not be part of many workers overt vocabulary, practice, is. What is praxis and why should educators be concerned with it?
Few educators speak of praxis. While praxis may not be part of their vocabulary, practice, is. What is praxis and why should educators be concerned with it?

Praxis is not simply action based on reflection.

It is action which embodies certain qualities. These include a commitment to human well being and the search for truth, and respect for others. It is the action of people who are free, who are able to act for themselves.

Praxis is always risky. It requires that a person ‘makes a wise and prudent practical judgement about how to act in this situation’ (page 190, Carr, W. and Kemmis, S. (1986) Becoming Critical. Education Knowledge and Action Research)

Tegu

Magnetic Wooden Building Blocks

alert_red WARNING – This product contains small magnets. Swallowed magnets can cause complications leading to serious infections and death. Seek immediate medical attention if magnets are swallowed or inhaled.

Brothers Chris and Will Haughey began with the simple notion that Honduras needed businesses which offered living wage jobs. Home to beautiful hardwoods, the country could have been the perfect spot for sustainably manufacturing any number of wooden products.

The brothers were inspired by classic wooden toys. Tegu blocks inspire children while addressing unemployment, neglected natural and human resources, and the need for entrepreneurship in Honduras.

“Children use toys to articulate meaning and substance,” says Will, explaining that blocks are the perfect medium because you can stack them into anything you want.

Tegu is positioned more as a high end specialty toy. “It’s definitely a niche product,” said Chris Byrne, who is known as “The Toy Guy” at a website that tracks the toy industry, “And there’s nothing like it in that niche.”

The innovative toys are “wonderfully tactile” and feel great to touch, Byrne said. ” They are kind of a work of art in themselves”, he said, “Something he would not be afraid to put on his coffee table”.

“Some parents like the idea of teaching their children about social issues through toys”, Byrne said. “In addition to the fun of play, it reinforces global responsibility.”

The blocks, which hearken back to traditional play gifts designed by Friedrich Froebel in their simplicity and craftsmanship, seek to unlock creativity in play by avoiding the overstimulation and prewritten scripts that come with so many elaborate mass produced toys.

The first building gifts designed by Friedrich Froebel

Chris and Will Haughey cite research linking imaginative “free play” to important cognitive development, and they seek to use Tegu blocks to open imaginative possibilities and facilitate long term learning.

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Chris Haughey first travelled to the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa in the spring of 2004, to work with a group that was educating children living and working in an unregulated landfill used by the city as a giant dump. Shocked by a degree of poverty he had never witnessed firsthand before, Chris emailed his investment banker and hedge fund analyst brother Will and together they began dreaming of ways to bring a little of the kingdom of heaven to the impoverished nation of Honduras.

“We came from the capitalist mindset and were convinced we could do something to help,” Will noted in a Daily News interview. “Obviously we wanted to make money, but we also wanted to positively impact the local community.”

The brothers set about establishing a factory in Tegucigalpa seeking to bring “world class employment standards” by offering living wages and prioritizing big picture career growth over merely task based jobs to Honduras, the second poorest nation in Central America.

Toymaker

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This building brick is one of the first designs by Kurt Naef.

Each with eight angled “teeth”, building bricks can be wedged together to form staggered constructions such as bridges and towers, which can be built even wider at the top than at the base.

As very sophisticated constructions are possible, the creativity of each child is constantly stimulated.

Playgrounds

Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was a visionary sculptor and landscape garden designer whose innovative playgrounds and playground equipment designs are a fusion of earth sculpture and interactive play.

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Isamu Noguchi’s recently restored Atlanta Playscapes serves as a model for playgrounds of the future.

“I think of playgrounds as a primer of shapes and functions; simple, mysterious, and evocative; thus educational.” Isamu Noguchi

The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum has reopened in New York after a renovation. Noguchi viewed the earth itself as the original sculpture medium. He felt that the ground embodies the spirit of creativity that inspired early humans and suggested a way for them to get control of their spiritual existence, to arrange your inner landscape you must sculpt your outer landscape.

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Playgrounds and playground equipment designed by Noguchi were works of art meant to be interactive, suggest activities without precisely demanding them, lead to a physical but creative use of each structure, and invite all levels of participation. Photo by Kevin Noble

Many distinguished educators, child welfare specialists and civic groups had seen the model for the United Nations Playground had hailed it as the only creative step made in the field in decades.

This design for the United Nations Playground was a composite; part garden, part surrealist sculpture and part bas relief on a monumental scale. ''A jungle gym is transformed into an enormous basket that encourages the most complex ascents and all but obviates falls. In other words, the playground, instead of telling the child what to do (swing here, climb there) becomes a place for endless exploration, of endless opportunity for changing play.'' –Noguchi, 1952
This 1952 design for the United Nations Playground was part garden, part surrealist sculpture and part bas relief on a monumental scale. A jungle gym is an enormous basket, that encourages the most complex ascents and all but obviates falls. The playground becomes a place for endless exploration, of endless opportunity for changing play.

His last playground design in New York City’s Riverside Park was the fullest evocation of a playground as an art form, an inviting creative play space that would provide not just interactivity but beauty and a place to sit for people of all ages.

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Riverside Park design that included a large collection of small scale furniture to be fixed in place. Noguchi wanted to create a tiny public realm that would inspire children to use their imaginations. Photo by of Kevin Noble

Marble tree

The Matthias Utinger Marble Tree is an enchanting eco friendly educational wonder.

Six marbles make deeper and deeper notes as they plink plonk down the tuned wooden leaves of the tree, before plopping into the base.

The Wooden Marble Tree is a longtime favourite of the Waldorf and Montessori school systems and was inspired by their principles of constructive play.

It is ethically made, environmentally sound, and nontoxic.

Matthias Utinger is an award winning Swiss designer of educational toys. His glorious invention was nearly lost to us when the original manufacturer went into bankruptcy in 2006. It is now produced by a family company specializing in quality wooden toys.

  • German Design Prize Winner, 2000
  • Hand made Germany
  • Suitable for all people over 3 years of age
  • Melodious tones bring joy to kids and adults alike
  • Brilliant hued leaves transition from yellow to deep green in a lovely rainbow of colors
  • Includes wooden tree with six marbles
  • Gravity makes beautiful music as the included marbles bounce from wooden leaf to leaf

Little Scientists

$4 million has been committed to the Little Scientists program in Australia to inspire three year old and four year old children, through active engagement with the world around them. Young Australians are becoming more numerate and scientifically literate by learning to count with little towers of wooden blocks and blowing bubbles. Nurturing the imagination of each child ensures they will go on to create the prosperity for Australia to remain a first world, generous social welfare net, high wage economy. read more

Activities start with familiar objects and experiences. Each child asks questions, which can be explored rationally. Making connections, drawing inferences, and creating new information are the building blocks for a culture of science and technology to create an innovation nation.

The curriculum encourages the autonomy, self confidence and self esteem of each child, based on the progressive ideas of Friedrich Fröbel, the renowned educator, who developed the Kindergarten concept 175 years ago. The program sparks interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by encouraging teachers to implement ideas and concepts from workshops, while exploring together with the children in their care.

Source: Little Scientists Australia

The five year olds agree: trees make the wind by shaking their branches. Their teacher does not correct them, but instead asks whether anyone has seen the wind in a place where there are no trees. One boy recalls a visit to the seashore, where the wind was whipping up water and sand with no trees in sight. Another child says that moving cars make fallen leaves twirl. Perhaps, they decide, trees are not the source of a breeze.

Little Scientists marks a departure, says a kindergarten teacher who participates in the programme. “You have to be willing to do something with the kids that might not lead to a result. They will not take something home that they can show their parents.” Teachers trained in the method encourage children to ask questions about natural phenomena and everyday objects. read more

Types of Play

Through play children learn and practice many basic social skills.

They develop a sense of self, learn to interact with other children, how to make friends, how to lie and how to role play.

Types of play

The first four types of play do not involve much interaction with others, while the last two do.

While children shift between the types of play, as they grew up, children participated less in the first four types of play and more in the last two – those which involved greater interaction.

  1. Unoccupied play: the child is relatively stationary and appears to be performing random movements with no apparent purpose. A relatively infrequent style of play.
  2. Solitary play: the child is completely engrossed in playing and does not seem to notice other children. Most often seen in children between 2 and 3 years-old.
  3. Onlooker play: child takes an interest in other children’s play but does not join in. May ask questions or just talk to other children, but the main activity is simply to watch.
  4. Parallel play: the child mimics other children’s play but doesn’t actively engage with them. For example they may use the same toy.
  5. Associative play: now more interested in each other than the toys they are using. This is the first category that involves strong social interaction between the children while they play.
  6. Cooperative play: some organisation enters children’s play, for example the playing has some goal and children often adopt roles and act as a group.

learning to play is learning how to relate to others

Source: 6 Types of Play: How Children’s Play Becomes More Social