In the third VIVITA summer camp, fun-loving children gathered together to discover the play potential of different materials and objects and invent their own games from scratch. Playing together was the driving force behind the camp: by solving a series of challenges over the course of three days each team built one big game project.

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Group photo. Photo: VIVITA Estonia

The rules of the game

Sure enough, we couldn’t expect all children to be able to use all tools right off the bat. So the camp kicked off with active learning: the kids were drilling holes, using hand saws and electric jigsaws, tying knots and stapling different materials together. That’s how they learned to combine and fix materials together in smart ways without using tape or glue. This rule had to be followed all throughout the game building — the kids had to constantly figure out various inventive methods of connecting materials. Tape was allowed only when building the first quick prototypes and for decorating the games in the end.

In addition to passing on some clever building tips and tricks and in order to bolster creativity, we carefully chose the materials to be used. Among them were euro pellets, plywood, rope, wire, textile, balls, pipes and other weirdly looking objects. To create suspense, we hid these materials under a large sheet of plywood and, needless to say, wrapped it all up in a bow.

Lastly, the challenge was to go through the whole creative process collaboratively. All camp participants were divided into four teams. Each team’s objective was to come up with a common idea for a game and build it together.

The process of invention

To charge the process of game invention with more playfulness, we divided the process into stages: learning how to use the tools, experimenting with materials and ideating in teams, building, testing, decorating, devising the game rules and presenting the games to the visitors of Telliskivi Creative City. Based on this, we compiled the main tasks or challenges, each of them given to the teams at certain points in time. For the moment of receiving the challenges to be even more enjoyable, they were all in the form of letters.

We also came up with four joker cards to support teamwork. The cards contained different creative prompts: “Use any material or object you find in the space”, “Look at the game from another perspective”, “Add a limitation to the game” and “Use story cubes for inspiration”. The kids had a chance to use these cards anytime they wished or felt stuck in the process.

Free play area

As an activity, the game building was structured and mentored, so we wished for the children to experience free play as well. In a separate area, we left different materials everyday and made time to go there and go crazy. Materials included different industrial leftovers and finished products: Alpek foam, Wendre pillows, SUVA sock leftovers and Artproof paper rolls. The kids romped around, built fun structures or just threw the materials at each other with big smiles on their faces. The interaction between materials and space revealed the kids’ intrinsic playful spirit. Play is certainly their natural state of being.

Teamwork outcomes

Through the above process, all teams managed to build and set up their games in the Telliskivi area. All visitors have a chance to test them outdoors until the end of summer.

The green team built the “Balls go home” game in which multiple players simultaneously have to get the balls into the buckets while balancing them on the ball swing. One of the team members also built a circus board game using an euro pallet and pieces of a garden hose.

The yellow team built a wooden structure; on one side of it you could throw balls into holes of different sizes, and on the other you could throw rings onto hooks.

The red team combined different games onto a large wooden base: a marble run, throwing balls into buckets, and a ball maze.

The blue team built a collaborative game in which you could go through 5 different stations, testing your throwing accuracy, spatial thinking and ability to hear whispering.

One challenge that really stirred the kids’ creativity was to add a random object to the game. For the objects, we offered umbrellas, dumbbells, an old landline telephone and a stacking rings toy for toddlers. All those found their purpose: you had to exercise with the dumbbells to get stronger before playing; the umbrellas served as hooks; the telephone was part of the whispering game; the toy parts were used in the building of the marble run.

We experimented with such a format for the first time in the frames of our summer camps. Even to our own surprise, we enjoyed some really fun outcomes. Still, the structure needs to be improved, especially with regard to the flow of teamwork and how to develop ideas together.

Thank you for our supporters: Fotografiska Tallinn, La Muu, Särgid-Värgid, Uuskasutuskeskus, Alpek, Wendre, SUVA and Artproof.

This summer camp program was created by Timo Varblas, Vera Naydenova and Eva Liisa Kubinyi.

Written by

Kids and Youth Creativity Accelerator

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