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Material learning

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Froebel’s Gifts and Isamu Noguchi’s Playgrounds

The folks at 99% Invisible have created some fab new podcasts and articles on the relationship between children, play and the material world. And because I am a massive nerd, I have created summaries of them to share with you! I highly recommend listening to the podcasts (links are included below) as they are entertaining, well-researched and only around 25-minutes long. Isamu Noguchi (design) and Shoji Sadao (architect). Moerenuma Park, Sapporo Japan. 1988-2004. ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / ARS Play Mountain: A podcast on the work of playground designer Isamu Noguchi Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was a Japanese-American sculptor, designer and landscape architect. After working for numerous years as a sculptor in New York, he came up with the idea to construct a ‘playground’ that had no rules or obvious way to play in it. Instead of having swings and slides, Noguchi wanted to the playground to…

Make a cardboard construction

Recycled cardboard is one of my favourite materials for children’s art activities. I like it because it is: Easily available to everyoneCheap or free to get. This means that parents or teachers that don’t have a budget for materials can still use itEncourages the reuse of something that would otherwise be thrown away In this post, I share an art activity that can do be done using recycled cardboard. It is best suited to kids aged 2 to 10 years old but can be adapted to any age. The activity is perfect to do at home or in the classroom! Image credit: Paigen Muller Designing the art activity When I am putting together a children’s art activity, I always start off brainstorming the following three questions: What materials do I have available or what I can afford to buy?What are the interests of the kids I am working with?How have…

Jessica den Hartog’s art made from recycled plastic

The use of plastic in classrooms is becoming an important issue for teachers. For example, public schools in the United Kingdom have been encouraged to eliminate single-use plastics (like straws, disposable water bottles and glitter) by the end of 2022. However, plastic can also be a wonderful material for artistic experimentation, as Dutch designer Jessica den Hartog shares with us in this post. Jessica is a researcher and designer whose artistic practice has explored the relationship between colour and recycled plastic. Based in Maastricht in the Netherlands, her art focuses on the importance of experimentation with the material. This is in contrast to making a specific end product. Image: Jessica in her art studio. Credit:Jessica den Hartog Louisa Penfold: I understand you have worked in both styling and design. Can you tell us about your background and how your interest in recycled plastic came about? Jessica den Hartog: My interest…

Children’s creative learning through the sculptures of Rachel Whiteread

This post looks at the art of Rachel Whiteread, a contemporary British sculptor who creates objects and spaces using different materials such as resin, plaster, concrete, rubber and plastic. Her works range from small-scale moulds of everyday objects such as hot water bottles to gigantic life-sized houses. Tate Britain in London recently exhibited a retrospective of her sculptures. As part of the show, her installation ‘Untitled (one hundred spaces)’ (1995) was displayed in the main entrance hall of the gallery. In this post, I use this artwork as a thinking tool for considering how its materials, tools and processes could be used to produce a children’s creative learning environment. This post is part of a series that aims to share innovative ways that artists are working with materials and how this may be used as a starting point for children’s creative learning. The first post in this series explored the…