On May 16th the under 5s team from the Humber Museums Partnership attended a conference at Eureka, the National Children’s Museum. The conference focused on the importance of play in museums. There were a range of interesting speakers who discussed many different aspects of play.
Alexandra Long & Mike Wragg from Leeds Beckett University highlighted the politicisation of children and play. They warned against the problem of thinking ‘children are our future’ is that we tend to forget the present, ignoring their everyday lived experience.
Rebecca Caswell, Strategic Lead, Play and Early Years at Eureka lead us in a story-telling activity, encouraging conference delegates to engage in play themselves.
Juliette Yardley from Laughology introduced us to the psychology of play in her engaging and entertaining presentation. She presented evidence that suggests that play helps us develop develop neotenous traits, which helps us with creativity and problem solving.
Ruth Churchill Dower from Early Arts discussed the power of play in developing the whole child. She introduced us to key concepts in childhood development and educational psychology. She says “Play is not an option, it’s a right”.
Dr Elizabeth Wood and Dr Liz Chesworth from the University of Sheffield showcased some of their fascinating research on children’s imaginative play. Liz Chesworth’s research has involved making video recordings of children at play, and interviewing them about their experiences while watching back the footage. She shared a number of observations, including one about a little girl who went to the dressing up area to put on shiny shoes to ‘go out and walk the dog’. When watching back this footage with her mother, her mother commented that the little girl often wants to go out and do mucky tasks in inappropriate foot ware. Just the other day the little girl had been caught half-way out the door to feed the pigs wearing her party shoes. She had been told to go back and change into wellies. In her imaginative play, she could wear whatever shoes she liked. In play, the impossible becomes possible.
At North Lincs, we already know how important play is and work hard to ensure it is encorporated into all our programming. The conference gave us the tools to continue advocating for the importance of play, as well as many new ideas for how to make our museum even more playful. #powertotheplayful !
Dr Rebecca Kummerfeld, Learning Manager