Oct 31, 2016

Special Blog Report: from China!

I still can't quite believe it myself, but I just got back from a week-long study tour in Anji County, China.  The AnjiPlay people invited me to come and tour the original AnjiPlay schools of Anji County and to share stories from my Wild Rumpuses this past summer.  What a trip!  I'm still processing the enormous amount of knowledge that I gained from being there and I can't wait to start developing my upcoming indoor AnjiPlay programs. For now, here are a few photos for you to enjoy:

Of course, the librarian in me loved seeing this little library with colorful, comfy chairs for the kids to sit on right inside the entryway of one of the schools we visited.
Here are some familiar titles in an unfamiliar language:
Also, Pierre, my storytime mascot puppet came along on the trip with me.  He loved looking at the books too!
 Loved seeing these two boys reading together!
 Although most of the block play took place outside, at one school where it was raining, one of the classes was taking blocks into an indoor classroom.

 These girls were have a very exciting experience with engineering balance, center of gravity, height and weight (despite the hands-on balancing, this tower fell immediately after the photo was taken, but they just re-built it with a different design!).  They were also learning about cooperation, creativity, design & symmetry!
 And check out these elaborate constructions!  With small blocks:
 and large blocks (two different types of tables and chair sets below):
(this one is a donut shop!)
 Every classroom had a plant area
 But I especially loved that this class had magnifying glasses nearby and that a student was using them as I walked by.
Many classrooms also had an area with some small animals.  My favorite were the crawdads, but Pierre's favorite were the turtles:

 And, of course, the outdoor play was absolutely astounding.  Just look at one small inner courtyard at one of the schools.  Don't you want to play here?:

Tree climbing with ladders,
 These kids waiting their turn to try out the sliding pad they'd added to this ladder slide that they built:
 When you supply an enormous amount of ladders...
 Children's imagination and ingenuity can soar to amazing heights!
 The sandboxes were incredible -- large, deep and usually near a source of running water to make the most amazing trenches and gulleys and bridges.  It was raining on the day we visited this playground, but in the sand and water areas the kids often wore their rain gear anyway just to stay clean and dry.  Brilliant!


 I super-love this little wood-stump labyrinth.  Dear Madison Parks Division.... can you build us one of these at our park?  Pretty please?
 Besides the sandboxes, many of the playgrounds also had beautiful water play areas. (It was a drizzly rainy day when we visited, so everyone was wearing their special rainsuits and awesome rain hats.)
 And this playground even included a wooden cook stove with incorporated wok. Yes, with real fire that the kids stoked themselves.  Apparently, the parents of these children had actually requested this element because, since their own houses largely have modern appliances, they were afraid that their children would lose this central element of their cultural heritage and so now it's incorporated into their play at school.
Painting areas often included defunct cars -- fun to paint and fun for pretend road trips!
The challenging art of transferring a 3D structure to a 2D drawing:

I saw lots of Play Stories being created:
But I also learned for the first time about Play Planning -- a pre-play activity that will definitely be incorporated into my upcoming programs!
One of the highlights of the trip for me was being invited to speak about my Wild Rumpus summer events to a room full of school principals from all over China (as well as my fellow study tour group participants).  What an absolute honor! (this photo is during the Q&A session at the end.  The person speaking is a school principal from Mongolia and her translator. Note the camera crew -- I think from a local news station? Eep!)

Now that I'm home, I am just starting to organize all of the information that I took in over the last week.  I'm looking forward to weaving this new learning into my library work and I'm looking forward to going back to China again someday.  There is so much more to learn from these amazing educators!  I am so incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity.



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