Inclusive Playfulness – City meet-up April 2023

A group of around 30 playful practitioners met at City University on the 27th and 28th April 2023 with a focus on Inclusive Playfulness (see Eventbrite).

Welcome slide for our event at City University

Katie Piatt started things off with an icebreaker game, asking the teams to design explicitly inclusive or non-inclusive games, with a common set of materials. The teams then played each others’ games. See icebreaker instructions. The non-inclusive games featured lots of unclear rules (usually in a foreign language) as well as shouting and throwing things. The inclusive games featured fairness and collaboration.

An inclusive game design in progress

Next up was Vici Daphne Händel, a playful teacher from Denmark. Vici talked about using Heath Robinson/Rube Goldberg contraptions to encourage collaboration, perseverance and creativity. She explained how these activities model the Creative Learning Process and Design Thinking.

Vici inspired us with this OK Go music video, to show what is possible with a Rube Goldberg Machine.

Then we had our own go… and here’s one of the results!

Vici also invites you all to the first International Playful learning 24 Hour PlayDay on 21st – 22nd August in Copenhagen. Warmly welcoming and free to any PLA members, though you’ll need to arrange your own travel and accommodation: further details will be provided shortly with venue and suggested places to stay. If anyone is interested in working together to do fundraising to attend this – get in touch!

24 Hour Playday invitation from Vici

To round off Day 1, Andrew Walsh introduced us to the idea of Neurodiversity and Play. See Andy’s handout to introduce his research to date on neurodivergent play. This proved a challenging topic for the group but clearly an area of potential research.

Thinking about research into neurodivergent play

We started Friday with a warm-up activity from Alex: Merge an object and an animal and give it a name and superpowers – as a focus on using ‘superpowers’ to help staff and students focus on their unique and useful skills.
This resulted in some fantastic creations, like Harry the Meerkat who Hoovers and Hovers!

Harry the Meerkat

Then Vanessa Poc led us through an impromptu speaking session, exploring emotions and activities. Some brave volunteers improvised and then we worked in pairs to try the activity – which then led to an ‘exquisite corpse’ game based on the idea of telling stories linked with emotions.

Andy sharing an emotions and activities story

We ended the event with Jane Secker, Chris Morrison and Kathryn Drumm looking firstly at improving their existing ‘Publishing Trap‘ game and then thinking about designing a new ‘Academic Game of Life.’

Thinking about the ‘Publishing Trap’ game

We also got excited about theme songs, so offer you some AI generated lyrics for the Prog Rock song about our Playful Learning at City event:

The Playful Learning people are gathering at City University,
They’re from all over the world,
And they’re all here to learn.
They’re learning about new ways to learn,
About how to make learning fun,
And about how to make learning stick.
They’re the Playful Learning people,
And they’re here to change the world,
One learner at a time.
Verse 2
They’re not afraid to experiment,
They’re not afraid to fail,
And they’re not afraid to have fun.
They know that learning should be fun,
And they know that it’s the best way to learn,
So they’re making learning fun for everyone.
They’re the Playful Learning people,
And they’re here to change the world,
One learner at a time.
The Playful Learning people are the future of education,
They’re the ones who are going to change the way we learn,
And they’re the ones who are going to make learning fun for everyone.
They’re the Playful Learning people,
And they’re here to change the world,
One learner at a time.
So join the Playful Learning people,
And help them change the world,
One learner at a time.

Many thanks again to Jane Secker and colleagues for hosting us at City University and for everyone who attended to make this such a fun, inspiring and thought-provoking 24 hours!

We aim for two face-to-face events each year, moving up and down the country. Our next event will be in the North of England from lunchtime on a Thursday to lunchtime on the Friday towards the end of November 2023. Dates tbc soon!