Aug 2, 2016

Wild Rumpus: Week 7 (the last one... for now!)

Week 7: wrapping up this summer's Wild Rumpus!  This week, Mr. Fun from Minnesota kicked off our Wild Rumpus with a lesson in how to make a "poi" spinner toy from recycled materials.  Since we were running a little late in setting up the usual materials, most participants started off with his activity.
Here's a video of the poi in action:
(you can see some super fancy poi spinners on this video if you're still not sure how in the world this toy is used)
Once we were all set up and the poi's were mostly finished, the last day of AnjiPlay really got started.  Here are some of my favorite scenes from this week (after the jump)

in block building--

 Here is a video of one of the architects of the castle above:


 This young builder was doing some skilled balancing, but when her tower collapsed onto her foot....
 she was glad mom was nearby for a hug.
Two gloriously muddy videos from the woods:

(p.s. I'm pretty sure she was "tasting" it before the videographer asked her about it!)

My favorite rolling play:


Love this "run and jump" mounting technique!

Want to know the secret of how it works?

There are two little guys hiding in the beige cylinder on the bottom of this stack of swim rings.  When the whole pile fell over, everyone thought it was hilarious!

My favorite ladder play of the day:

Some great "stilts" walking:


My favorite examples of Risky Play from today:

(notice how he's quite good at judging for himself whether his structure is stable or not)

they had thrown something that got stuck in a tree, so one stood on the back of the other and they were able to retrieve it!
 Some of my other favorite moments:
--A pet tube on a leash
 --We asked participants to let us keep their Play Story notebooks one last week and this artist did NOT want to leave her book there with us (I love how attached she's become to it!)
 --These awesome guys who helped us load up all the materials onto the truck at the end of the day.  What superheroes!
 And finally, some Play Stories from today, roughly in order from most abstract (likely youngest?) to least (likely older?):

(check it out, here's a great drawing of Mr. Fun and his poi!)

Here are a few spoken reflections on the Play Stories:

Wild Rumpus, Week 7
Wild Rumpus, Week 7

My favorite anecdotes and observations from today were the mom who took the day off of work in order to bring her daughters to the Wild Rumpus (wow!) and another mom who observed that normally, when her son goes to a playground, he immediately starts playing "bad guy" games and pretend shooting but that the materials we brought in were so engaging that his play style was completely different.  He was more engrossed in building and figuring out what he could do with the materials and didn't get as aggressive as he normally does.
All in all, this has been an amazing summer.  Someone asked me what the most surprising thing from this summer was and... it wasn't how much time it took me haul the materials in and out each week (that was a little surprising) and it wasn't how MUCH paint we used up in only 4 weeks (wow, that was rather surprising), no the MOST surprising thing was seeing the incredible value of repeat play.  Each time a kid got to play with the same materials for more than one week, they gained the opportunity to learn new things - testing the limits of the material or equipment itself or the limits of their physical abilities or the limits of their imaginations.  I feel like we've barely scratched the surface of those possibilities and I, for one, am not yet ready to be finished exploring how AnjiPlay can be used here in Madison.
I'm working on bringing AnjiPlay and the Wild Rumpus back again.  I've got a three-week, indoor Wild Rumpus scheduled in December at my library and I'm hoping to be able to bring this event next summer to MORE parks on MORE days and I'd love to see it being used in one capacity or another throughout the school year as well.
If you loved the Wild Rumpus (and if you've read this far, whew!) and if you'd like to see MORE AnjiPlay in Madison, send me an e-mail at If you participated in this year's Wild Rumpus, share your favorite story about something that happened there.  Even if you didn't get a chance to participate, send me an e-mail to let me know if you support the broadening of this effort.  Your stories and quotes from you will help me to find the financial and institutional support that can make this a reality.  I'd also love any constructive feedback--what did you love? What do you think we could improve next year?  I can't wait to hear from you all!  


In the meantime, I hope that you take a little of the AnjiPlay philosophy with you as your kids continue to play wherever they are -- allowing them to make their own choices about play and supporting them as they take calculated risks, both physical and intellectual.  May you be amazed by their incredible abilities and fabulous imaginations. 
p.s. a HUGE thanks to Professor Rebekah Willett who volunteered for the last six weeks of this program to video record, observe and interview participants of the Wild Rumpus.  Your recordings and observations helped immensely and your presence each week was greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

Please note: "Anji Play,” refers to a specific philosophy and comprehensive approach to early education developed by Ms. Cheng Xueqin in Anji County, China. I use the term "Anji Play" to describe my programming and throughout this blog with the explicit permission of Ms. Cheng because our programming has been developed as part of a close collaborative relationship with her and her team of Anji Play educators. If you are interested in learning more about how you can bring Anji Play to your community, please visit

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