hand-made play notes from a collaborative + open research project investigating, enjoying, and learning from the self-initiated non-commercial play of children in Tokyo

With Akishima Kindergarten

For the moment, the work on this site is now being continued in the following way:

**Research and (non)Design in Kindergartens**
A small role as researcher and (non)designer at a local alternative kindergarten in suburban Tokyo.
Here, I (1) investigate and document how the children use and perceive their learning environments and (2) convey and work with findings to develop and expand a learning cycle with parents and teachers.

> More details (in Japanese) HERE and a bilingual log HERE.


Hideout | 秘密の基地


[2]We made this together! This one is heaps better than the other one (we just looked at). When we finish this let’s make another one. (What was good about this one?) It’s got a proper entrance, and you can see out here. And you can’t see, but if it rains..
[1]There’s an umbrella!
[2]The entrance is that pink part. (What do you do in there?)Read books….cook…we also have a soccer ball and backpack. We always take a bag when we go camping. (What do you have in the bag?) Books and toys…we don’t use them much, but we do read the books a bit.
(How about you Cua?)
[1]Umm, I put heaps of stuff in the bag…
[2]And we took Mamoo [soft toy]. Mamoo is usually only around when we eat or go shopping. The place around here where the aliens are has some nice things which we ate. (Who made this house?) We made it together.
Hideout | 秘密の基地
Players: Girl, 3; Boy, 6.
Materials: Desk, Towels, Laundry Rack, Chair, Pegs.
Concepts: Confined Space, My Own Space, Build, Together.

Boxed In | 箱の中


This was fun. We got in this box (we don’t have it anymore though) and like we did before we put in some toys and warmed it up….then smashed it in the end….. See, we’re laughing…. It’s like a bath. All in together. Warm.
Boxed In | 箱の中
Players: Girl, 3; Boy, 6.
Materials: Cardboard Box, Soft Toy.
Concepts: Destroy, Confined Space, Energetic, Together.

Hideout | 秘密の基地

This is camp. We ate together and stuff, lying around in my tent. We use the pegs for cooking. There are two tents and I made them both…. I’ll make a bigger one later.
Hideout | 秘密の基地
Players: Girl, 3; Boy, 6.
Materials: cushion, chair, towel, peg.
Concepts: together, confined space, my own space, build, create.

Patterns of Play Open Data Sheet

Rough categorization working draft of gender/age/materials/concepts for Patterns of Play research. 108 examples of self-initiated, non-commercial play: View Data Sheet.

Playtime in Africa: Collaboration (Site and global supporters)

I’m honoured that this research, and the 雨の日の宝物(Rainy Day Treasures) Pamphlet was a source of inspiration for the Playtime in Africa project that aims to “turn two acres of land in the Dzorwulu neighborhood into a groundbreaking natural playspace”.
> Frugal Collaboration towards Public Space for Children – my recent small post about this project on Polis [HERE]
> Global supporters map [HERE]
> Playtime in Africa WEBSITE

Contribution to Children Youth and Environments Image Collection. University of Colorado CYE Center.

I’m honoured and delighted to be able to contribute a selection of my hand-made play and child-scale city images (up soon – view the images on Flickr in the meantime) to the Children Youth and Environments Image Collection at the University of Colorado CYE Center.
The Children, Youth and Environments Center for Research and Design (CYE) is part of the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado and the purpoase of the image collection purpose is to provide images of children and youth in various environments for educators, students, community groups and other non-commercial users.

The collection can be accessed HERE

Tree Climbing | 木登り

1This is scary.
2I couldn’t get down. I climbed up by myself but it was scary. If I had gone up any further the branch would’ve broken. It’s a slope so if I fell I wouldn’t have died but I would’ve landed with a pretty big thump!
Tree Climbing | 木登り
Players: Girl, 3; Boy, 6.
Materials: Music
Concepts: together, high places, control, challenge, nervous.

Grab the Rock Game | 石取りゲーム

It’s incredibly easy to hack your neighbourhood playground for competitive sports. Here, a rock and a set of swings are the required elements for the intensely competitive “Ishi-tori ge-mu” (Grab the Rock Game).

How to Play: Get a rock. Place it somewhere where you think your opponent can’t reach. When he picks it up, he does the same to you. Ad infinitum. Superb afternoon fun.

Q: What fun and camaraderie might result from creatively combining multiple mundane elements of city infrastructure?

The video after the photos shows two boys teaching their younger friend how to play. The other videos offer a brief glimpse of the game in action.
Grab the Rock Game | 石取りゲームGrab the Rock Game | 石取りゲーム

Players: Girl, 6; Boys, 7.
Materials: stone, swing.
Concepts: together, competitive, coordination.

Concert | コンサート

あ!これおもいだした!げきとかおどりとかだよ。[I remember this! Dancing and putting on a show and stuff!]
Concert | コンサート
Players: Girl, 3; Boy, 6.
Materials: Music, Castanets, Decorations, Audience.
Concepts: Dress Up, Dangle, Amuse, Entertain, Together.

Space Camp | 宇宙キャンプ

[1]これでさ、あさおきてすぐいえをつくった。なかまをもってきて、けんももってきて・・あったかいしたのしい。このラーメンなくなったけどね。(朝からラーメン?)だってこれががキャンプだよ、よるのキャンプ、ほんとうはあさだけどね。 いえだけどテントだよ。(誰が行く?)。ぼくとくうあ(妹)とマッムー(ぬいぐるみ)。(どこに行った?)うちゅう。つめたい月でね、テントをはって、いっぱいくうきを入れてくらしていた。かえるときはテントをひこうきにへんけいさしてかえったんだよ。(寒くない?)ふとんでできているだから大丈夫。

[1]We made this as soon as we woke up. We got our toys, and our swords – really warm, and fun. This ramen we had is all gone though (ramen for breakfast?) That’s because this is camp, and at night. Of course it’s really morning though. It’s our house but also a tent. (Who went with you?) Me and Cua and Mamoo [soft toy]. (Where did you go?) We went to space. To the cold moon. We set up our tent and pumped in a whole lot of oxygen. Then, on our way home we turned the tent into an aeroplane. (Weren’t you cold?) It’s a futon, so we were OK.
(How about you, Cua?) [2]I relaxed with Mamoo in the engine room. We went, and also came home by scooter. And I took my bag with me.
[1]And then an alien came and I took to him with my sword and won! It’s just play though, not real. It’s play but it’s fun to pretend….
Space Camp | 宇宙キャンプ
Players: Girl, 3; Boy, 6.
Materials: Futon, Blanket, Cooking Set, Bags.
Concepts: Confined Space, Cozy, My Own Space, Create, Cooking, Eat, Organize, Travel, Outer Space, Aliens.

Pirate Mask | 海賊仮面


I’m a pirate. (Who did you do this with?) By myself. Then I showed mum. She laughed, and said ‘great!’ and said I looked cute and cool.
Pirate Mask | 海賊仮面
Player: Girl, 3.
Materials: Pen, Paper, Tape.
Concepts: Create, Draw, Stick, Mask, Monster, Different Vision, Scare.

Laptop | ノートパソコン


Computer. I couldn’t use my white computer so I used this one. I watched Tom and Jerry. A lot. It was fun.
Laptop | ノートパソコン
Player: Girl, 3.
Materials: DVD Case, Greeting Card.
Concepts: Create, Assemblage, Mimic

Batting | 室内野球


I threw the ball up, and with some stick I smacked it down. Then my sister took a photo… as the ball came down I hit it and she took the photo….
Batting | 室内野球
Players: Boy, 7; Girl, 3
Materials: Map rolled up as a bat, Soccer Ball, Camera
Concepts: Photography, Mimic, Control, Reflexes, Energetic

Rollerskates | ローラースケート


This is something that I wanted to put on my feet like skis…. but I couldn’t. I needed a more string but mum told me I couldn’t use any more so I could only make one. But anyway, I slid about a bit with only one and it was fun…. I’m sure that if I could have made the other one I could have skiied properly though.
Rollerskates | ローラースケート
Player: Boy, 7
Materials: Duplo, String
Concepts: Create, Copy, Tie, Movement

Bedtime | 寝る時間

She was putting them to bed. This is Winnie the Pooh.. And she said stuff like “eat your dinner”… This is Winnie the Pooh and this is ‘Pet’. And this is the bed…see, here’s the tissue paper.
Bedtime | 寝る時間
Player: Girl, 2.
Materials: Tissues, Dolls.
Concepts: Sleep, Take Care Of, Mimic, Line Up.

Street Sweeper | 公園清掃人


Cleaning up.
(What were you cleaning up?)
Dirty stuff. Like this – ‘shu-shu’, and this, and then like this again. Then we had something to eat together.
Street Sweeper | 公園清掃人
Player: Girl, 3.
Materials: Branch, Leaves.
Concepts: Take Care Of, Clean, Sweep, Organize.

Maze | 迷路


I made a railway track.
(What did you do?)
I went round-and-around-and-around like this….
Maze | 迷路
Player: Girl, 3.
Materials: Book.
Concepts: Follow, Maze, Lines, Geometric.

Birthday Cake | 誕生日ケーキ


(What did you make?)
Cake. Strawberry cake. Daddy, Haru-kun, Ton-chan…and Mummy, Haru’s grandma, Go, and Haru’s mummy… We made cake….. With our shoes off.
Birthday Cake | 誕生日ケーキ
Players: Girls, 3, 2.
Materials: Gravel, Sand, Sticks.
Concepts: Create, Cooking, Gather, Balance, Celebration/Event, Birthday

Feeding Time | 餌の時間


1We were giving them some snacks..
2To the people….
Feeding Time | 餌の時間
Players: Girl, 3; Boy, 7.
Materials: Duplo, Food.
Concepts: Taking Care Of, Feeding, Balance, Tall, Create.

Check-up | 診察

1This is a hospital. She was saying that her hand was sore so I was going BANGBANGBANG on it… then, I got a toy knife and went SLASH!
(And did that make your hand feel better?)
Check-up | 診察
Players: Girl, 3; Boy, 7.
Concepts: Mimic, Take Care Of, Be Taken Care Of, Control, Relinquish Control, Together.

Slide | すべり台

“This was fun – kinda like going skiing….”
Slide | すべり台
Players: Girl, 3; Boy; 7.
Materials: Cardboard Box, Slope (Material).
Concepts: High Places, Slope (Concept), Speed, Nervous, Crash, Together, Trust.

Sleeper Compartment | 寝台


“This was when we had lunch and desert…. my brother made lunch and I made desert…..”

Sleeper Compartment | 寝台
Player: Girl, 3.
Materials: Jacket (Cloth).
Concepts: Hide, Cozy, Warm, Dark, Different Vision, Confined Space.

Tyre Ride | タイヤ遊び

Tyre Ride | タイヤ遊び
Players: Girl, 7; Boy, 6.
Materials: Tyre.
Concepts: Confined Space, Out Of Control, Relinquish Control, Roll, Balance, Control, Trust, Together.

Hiding | 隠れている

Hiding | 隠れている
Players: Boys, 3.
Materials: Hands.
Concepts: Hide, Be Photographed, Different Vision, Together.

Roadworks | 道路工事

Roadworks | 道路工事
Players: Boys, 3, 1.
Materials: Gravel, Truck.
Concepts: Transfer, Load, Roadworks, Mimic, Together, Working Together.

Pink Glasses | ピンク色メガネ

Pink Glasses | ピンク色メガネ
Player: Girl, 3.
Materials: glasses.
Concepts: dress-up, different vision, energetic, shock, be shocked.

雨の日の宝物(Rainy Day Treasures) Pamphlet

“……These safe and slow pathways are perfect for tiny feet and their larger commute-weary companions. Dense greens and colourful scented collages reside at the height and scale of little eyes and noses. Irrepressible hands thrive on the mixture of gravel, sand, grass, rocks, sticks and fallen fruit that compose Tokyo carpets. In summer developing ears drink in crickets, cicadas and neighbourhood rustlings….”

A small study on the child’s perception of the street. This document traces the everyday treasures of a rainy day walk to the local sento in suburban Tokyo. It is part of a broader and slightly wonky research and practice agenda on the hand made, everyday creativity, play, and usable environments.

A5, 112 pages

Download screen and print PDFs for $3.50 HERE

More details HERE