Mar 22, 2017

Anji Play Date #10: The room is beginning to feel a bit .... cramped

We had another great turn-out today, but does the crowded space affect how the kids play?

This baby had an innovative use for a block:
 I'd love to know more about what was going on in the big box today.
 Tall, skinny tower!
 This was clearly a guitar and they were even singing along.
 Blocks and spools can also be stepping stools to ... more blocks and spools.

 Love these facial expressions!
This young one had some new uses for the tunnels:
 (she crammed it full of tulle.  Made a cozy crash pad for her knees!)

But for some, the full room of kiddos and playthings was just a wee bit too stimulating.  We'll try something just a little different next week and see how that goes!

Mar 20, 2017

App Fairy, episode 2: Ahoiii!

My second episode of the podcast is up! It's an interview with the makers of the apps about the little sailor named Fiete.  You can read more about the episode here or just listen to the recording right away at  The website now also has links to the App Fairy on iTunes, Stitcher and TuneIn in case you prefer to listen to podcasts on your phone.  Don't miss the exciting episode extras!

Mar 18, 2017

Anji Play: Let's talk about conflict, part 1 (kids' eye view)

 When we give kids the freedom of self-directed play, there's a good chance some conflict will crop up at some point. One of the major questions that frequently comes up around Anji Play programs is, “What if the kids are fighting?”  Let’s break that down a little.

1.    Are the kids really fighting or are they just having hard time solving a problem?
At this age, most likely kids aren’t going to get into an out-an-out brawl with punching, kicking or tackling each other.  If that happens, the kids are in danger of physical harm and YES, an adult should stop that behavior to keep the kids both safe.  If, on the other hand, their fight consists of crying, whining, shouting, tugging on a toy neither wants to give up, or other behavior that’s not physically harmful, adults are encouraged to allow the kids to work it out between themselves.  Here’s a real-life example from Anji County in China: two girls were arguing over a plank on the playground.  Neither was willing to give it up and they held onto that plank stubbornly for 20 minutes until finally, another girl ran up and said, “Hey, playtime is over in five minutes!” and both girls dropped the plank and ran off to play something else for the last five minutes.  It might have been uncomfortable for adults to watch the girls struggle that long, it was probably uncomfortable for the girls themselves too (no one really likes to get stuck in a power struggle!), but no one was physically hurt and the only people negatively affected by the incident were the two girls who lost out on the chance to have more time to play that day because they were fighting (not because an adult gave them “time-out” or anything—just because they chose to dig in their heels instead of figuring out a way to share the plank on their own.How many more times do you think they got into a fight like that?  How likely is it that they realized that day what a waste of time it is to get stuck in a power struggle?

2.    Most kids really just want to get back to playing asap
When kids have disagreements with each other during play, they don’t really want to stop to have to talk to a grown-up about proper conflict resolution techniques or considering the other child’s emotions—they want to get back to play!  This means that if you leave the kids to work out their own disagreements, they might be actually able to do it faster if adults don’t step in.  They might not work it out the same way you would, but they’ll work it out in the name of getting back to the game.

I'll do a follow-up post to this soon, approaching this question from the adult point of view, but I'd love to hear your responses to this issue.  What questions or concerns do you have?  If you've participated in an Anji Play program at my library, have you seen examples of this there and what were your thoughts about it? This conversation is an important part of Anji Play -- adults processing what it is that we observe during play time, so... let's talk!

Mar 14, 2017

AnjiPlayDate #9: What happens when a lot of people show up?

Whew!  Sixty people showed up today and of course it was the first time that I introduced some new pop-up tunnels that take up a lot of floor space so it felt a bit.... crowded.  Here's a quick peek to give you a feel for the room:


But despite the extra chaos, the kids still found a way to play.  Here's a few shots of the new tunnels:

 Love that someone figured out how to keep a curve in the tunnel!

AnjiPlayDate March 2017

AnjiPlayDate March 2017

There was also plenty of clay play:

Um, maybe pretend eating instead?  :)
Even some play on the clay table without using clay!  I love watching this little one fill and empty this tube:

AnjiPlayDate March 2017

The cardboard box drew a lot of attention again.  This time with the addition of a bungee cord:

AnjiPlayDate March 2017

Bungee cords were also used as belts:

 And that belt was used for hauling a spool across the floor (hard to see in this photo, but there's a blue rope connecting the spool to his "belt.")
More spool-foolery:


I caught this great balancing act:

Check out this awesome inter-age play!

Here's an interesting interaction.  As an adult watching, don't you want to say something to the girl who knocks down the blocks?  But check out what happens when no adults step in to problem solve for the kids, but instead let them handle it on their own:

AnjiPlayDate March 2017
Here are some play stories from today.  Can you spot any connections to the photos and videos above?

Mar 8, 2017

The App Fairy Podcast



I. have. a. podcast.

Sponsored by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.


This has been a brainchild wish of mine for almost two years and it is FINALLY coming true and I am SO geeking out over it.

Check out my blog post on the Cooney Center's site here.

Check out the podcast here.

Then, leave me a review in iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts from) or leave a comment here on this post and tell me what you think!  Do you have a favorite app developer you'd like to see interviewed?  Do you have a burning question you've always wanted to ask app makers?  Do you think I giggle too much during the interviews (hint: yes)?  Chime in!

AnjiPlayDate #8: Let's play together now!

In which more children begin to interact with each other. 

This week, some things were built.  Some kids preferred to build alone, others built with the help of another kiddo.

Here's some more fun play with the tunnels.  Her mom told me that this was the first time that she made the tunnel flat by herself (usually she asked mom to do that part):

The paper-covered table offered a nice large surface for drawing on!(note: I found out during play reflections the following week that this is a drawing of a washing machine.  And the circles on top are all the clothes.)
This was an interesting way to use the turntable!
Template developed by Confluent Forms LLC; more resources at BlogXpertise