An out-of-the-(sand)box approach to playground play
Before the winter, Telliskivi Creative City approached us with the idea to add a little something different to the existing children’s playground located in front of the F-hoone restaurant. We couldn’t be more excited at the opportunity: we got to co-create a play object with children — for children!
Play is learning, learning is play
It’s no secret that learning for children, younger or older, happens in play and manipulation of their environment, so we started off with the idea of a simple flat play wall and developed it into a sensory-stimulating mechanical echo chamber: the Soundshack.
In keeping with the spirit of Telliskivi, we were decided on the use of inexpensive and recycled materials, while the safety and the stability of the structure naturally came as the first rule of thumb. Of course, we also needed to play nice and not create a disturbance for everyone around, so we focused on lesser volume sounds.
In the weeks to come, we designed a basic tridimensional structure and began experimenting with different sound-producing inventions. Once we learned just enough to provide sufficient scaffolding for the children to be able to make their own discoveries, we were ready to invite them to play along.
In late March, we organized an open-ended workshop with VIVITA children who got a chance to experiment with the sound qualities of different materials and objects and prototype the “instruments”. Based on the idea of loose parts, we purposefully collected anything we found could be of use. The four walls of the Soundshack with more or less working mechanical solutions were waiting for them, too. Not surprisingly at all, the children didn’t need any further instruction than that. The team was mostly there to observe their creative searching and findings, lend a helping hand or point at the right tool for the job.
Brimming with even more insight after the workshop, the team developed the mechanisms further and incorporated the kids’ ideas. Those of them who got especially enthusiastic about sound and secretly dreamt of building their own noise machines, could take part in finalizing the design side by side with us during FreeFlow. Co-creating the solution this way proved to be a good strategy to follow since the outcome needed to meet specific design criteria, yet the children had enough freedom and autonomy to contribute with their ideas.
After hours and hours of loud sawing, and drilling at VIVISTOP Telliskivi, the Soundshack was built and ready to be played. We couldn’t wait to break ground and see it up in the playground. During the opening event on April 1, the vivinauts got a chance to add the final touch collaboratively while perfecting their stenciling and spray painting technique. Needless to say, the event went with a bang!
Spring might have taken a little while longer to arrive this year, but the Telliskivi Soundshack is here — go outside and make some noise!
Workshop: Joonas Riisalu, Teele Kumm, Vera Naydenova, Mari-Liis Peets
Text and photos: VIVITA Estonia