CMA Blog

Push Play

Push Play

Looking back on some of my fondest memories, most began with, “Can Cassie come out to play?”  Why? Quite simply, because play is fun.  What if I use this beach towel as a flying carpet to travel to London to have a tea party with some ole’ chaps? What if I use these pillows as stepping stones in order to safely cross over the hot lava? What if I use this flashlight for a game of midnight tag? Sadly, as adults, we slowly slip out of this stage. We become more serious and less silly.  So much so that we actually start to believe that anything fun is for meant for kids. Working in an environment where play is not only an essential value, but is executed every day, I experience it first hand, “Would you like to play a game?”…..“Hold on, let me get my kids.”  The challenge for us as museum educators becomes, how do we get our visitors to break down those pre-existing barriers, step out of their comfort zone and have a little fun?

What if we invite visitors to partake in a competitive scavenger hunt in the galleries?

What if we engage families in a conversation with a character out of an artwork?

What if we open a space where fort building is encouraged and playing songs on the juke box is expected?

The truth is, play is much more than fun.  It is how we make connections and shape the actual understanding of the world by discovering things on our own-the ultimate DIY.  Play should be in our museums.  Play should be in our art.  Play should be in our home, in our schools, in our work.  Recently speaking at CMA the ultimate guru of play, George Szekely, so perfectly sums it up that, “creativity is not something you can mandate.” It’s not a matter of saying this is what you’re going to do today and this is how you’re going to do it. Ironic, isn’t it then, that we have created a culture where testing trumps tea parties and we develop and live by slogans such as “Work before Play”? Without placing importance on such things, we begin to develop a  population of robotic-like citizens who are stuck on repeat, unable to think of the next step, unsure of how to push play—and that is not silly, that is just plain scary.

Play is a perfect invitation to a situation that sparks an appetite for fantasy, curiosity, wonder, and imagination. For every beach towel, pillow, or flashlight opens endless ideas and generates unforgettable, valuable experiences. So go ahead–ask someone to come out and play with you today–no matter what your age. I double-dog dare you.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Cassie Koehler, Family Programs Coordinator

Over the past 18 months, in preparation for opening CMA’s new Center for Creativity (on Jan. 1, 2011), the entire education staff immersed ourselves in research on creativity, particularly what is necessary to cultivate creativity.  Musings from the Center for Creativity is an opportunity for us to share our thoughts on this topic.  Please share your views and resources with us, as well.

Posted in Musings from the Center for Creativity

2 Responses to Push Play

  1. Jane Ehret says:

    Extracting that element of fun is always a difficult task. I deal with this everyday when I ask my students to sing alone in a singing game. They come to my class with a predetermined idea that in order to sing out, for others to hear, means that you are so talented you should be on the radio, or able to win American Idol. Society really does a “number” on the element of fun and play.
    It takes a creative mind to figure out how to get around this so that people can enjoy life to its fullest!
    Thankfully, we have people in the world like Cassie Koehler who are able to pull people out of their comfort zone through her creative ideas. The museum is lucky to have her!

  2. Molly says:

    Making the painting come to life isa great idea!
    I am sure 3, 4, and 5 years old will love the Fort idea
    And I know one little girl(age 6 ) that just loves to dance to any music even if it be classical!!
    Give each child a pumpkin sprayed painted in one solid color Green Black white and have the child choose a stencil or picture to paint on the pumpkin.
    they could also put hats , faces ear rings etc on the pumpkin.
    I like the guessing games that stimulate the minds of the kids too. What would they paint on canvass if they were out in the woods? this way they can try to picture in their minds what a wooded trail would be like! Or have a good artist there to try and sketch what the kids are saying. Like eg> I see an Owl in an old oak tree. Or I see a foot bridge over the brook with frogs below on rocks! gives a visual!

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