With Fafunia we have begun to explore the bringing together of people who are both caring or trying to care about brilliant brain development through open ended opportunities. Play Iceland 2015 we believe will begin to take that further. We are considering next year in introducing Play International; with opportunities to come to Iceland, to the UK and the United States – or any one or two or three of these and to experience great practice, to explore their and your own practice and to see how we can focus on brilliant child development.....
If you are interested please email us ...
"Can I have the yellow pot now? I need more water in my tomato and marshmallow soup"
Muddy play is such an open ended opportunity for learning. It enables children to explore the elements and introduces them to nature. It strengthens their immune system while also developing their social skills.
"Yes. Can I have some of your leaves? My dragon is very hungry."
It is in moments like this that children share their ideas and passions in the honest way that adults often struggle with. There is no hesitation in their plans. No fear of judgement. Children accept that anything is possible and are open to letting an idea that a friend is exploring enter their imagination.
"You can have all my leaves!! Can I pet your dragon? Is he green?"
Just imagine what we could achieve in this world if every idea or passion for change was welcomed without judgement or expectation. Ideas can change the world.
Storytelling can offer many positive opportunities for learning and developing. It is an art and an action and there are ways to make it interactive so that the children can take the lead.
Here are 3 main benefits to storytelling that enrich a learning experience for a young child.
1. Literacy - yes the good old literacy. Reading and telling stories lays the groundwork for a child's literacy skills later on in life. It introduces new words and concepts, phonics and ideas. It helps the brain to understand how information is communicated through text long before the child starts to learn letters and read. Reading with and for children also supports their positive outlook and excitement for learning how to read which will get them half way there.
2. Emotional development - stories help the brain to organize thoughts and make sense of different scenarios and human interactions. They help children to imagine how it might feel to be someone else and understand that life is full of problems that you can overcome This can have an important effect on developing empathy and perseverance which are important factors for their future mental health.
3. Curiosity and Passion - telling and creating stories with children is one kind of magic. Nothing is impossible and you only limitation is your imagination. This makes for a perfect tool to explore their curiosity and develop their passion. You can do that with questions or by letting them lead the story. And when they run with something you feel they are invested in you should join them and feed the story with real facts and information on the topic so that your session is not just fun (and it will be!) but fills them up with the longing to know more and understand more. And they will.
Have you seen our amazing Storytelling Chair?!
Check it out here
Play Iceland 2015 is almost fully booked!! We are honoured and excited by all the interest and can’t wait to meet all the amazing people that have signed up. The group is very versatile and packed with real experience and sincere passion for good early years practice. Just how we like it. We have registrations from America, England and Switzerland as well as some other countries that have not confirmed yet.
We decided to let the event grow a bit this year by offering more places as well as making it a day longer. We had some conversations and feedback from friends from last year and a full workshop day seemed needed to process all the new information, mix up the groups and reflect on how we are all different in our approach while still being awesome. Especially the awesome part as there is never a dull moment when early years practitioners come together!
It is a trip where your perspective will be broadened by how Icelandic children are expected to to be capable and how little impact health&safety has on play here. But you will also find most of the inspiration in connecting with the other travellers - participating in rich conversations and building new friendships that you can continue to grow after the event.
This year we will be joined by team Elska - a small group of people that produce theatre for children in New York in an almost philosophical way. They will say that they are entertainers, but they put a lot of thought and research into what they do to create something of real value. It is not just one more dull thing created by marketers to sell stuff, but a real work of art. They will join our workshop and ask some really interesting and thought provoking questions on how entertainment is influencing childhood.
It will be an amazing event. We really can’t wait!
If you are just hearing about this now and want to join us then you will need to move fast and register here.
There is always something new appearing in the factory. Sometimes because someone calls in a custom made order and sometimes because someone had an idea and went with it! Glen has just updated out outdoor kitchen by adding a chalkboard on the back splash and a small shelf for the chalk. A very simple change, but really fun!!
This oh-so-pretty play kitchen is also a new creation from Glen and Jason. It has a country rustic style and would look great both indoor or outdoors. It is quite large and offers work space for many children to play, collaborate and learn!
Here is the first prototype of our new Story Chair. Isn't it fab? It will probably evolve a bit as we make more and experiment with different versions......keep an eye out for it!
We LOVE pretend play and spend a lot of time developing play solutions (such as costumes, dens, play furniture....and more!) that support all kinds of play. But we are especially passionate about child led pretend play. So why is that?
The main reason is that play is the single most effective way for a young child to learn and develop important life skills. It offers countless opportunities for children to act out real life situations in the safe world of pretend! We call that world Fafunia. Where mistakes lead to giggles and disagreements are left in the toy box.
But play really is serious – and a lack of free play can affect children’s ability to learn and prosper later in life. Pretend play, in particular, has four primary areas of developmental impact:
Emotional – interacting through play will help children to understand their individuality and in that increase their self-esteem, pride and sense of accomplishment. It will also support their sense of purpose and help them gain resilience in different situations.
Intellectual – play practises negotiation, problem solving, storytelling and organising. It nourishes creativity and practical use of new knowledge. It even supports early numeracy!
Social – learning how to share with others, take turns and find meaning and joy in cooperation are very important life skills. Learning to control impulses and deal with disappointment will help them to cope with delayed gratification.
Physical – pretend play offers countless opportunities for children to develop their gross and finer motor skills as well as increasing their strength and coordination.
If you want to read more about the science of play, you can read our PLAY! magazine here.
What does that mean?
There are a lot of parenting philosophies, educational theories and pedagogy concepts around. They share similarities and they also differ a lot in their early learning approach.
To simplify and explain why Fafu is all about open ended play and child lead learning opportunities it is best to divide those ideas into two main groups of ideas:
Most of our current education system is based on controlling ideas because all curriculum's are based on them. It would be amazing if I could write with confidence that the controlling ideas are slowly fading away to make paths for more empowering ideas but sadly I can´t (lets hope that I can someday!).
The main reason why Tom and I are so committed to child lead learning and empowering ideas in early learning and parenting is the fact that its a "brain friendly" approach. Leading your own education, taking on challenges freely, spending a LOT of time playing, exploring and connecting is learning at its best.
It is a scientifically proven fact. We can all change the future of education if we take this idea seriously and use it when communicating and working with children. Lets do it!!
Early education is probably the most important level of education. It is the time in children‘s lives where they start building peer relationships and the foundation for the people they will become. It is also a vital time for brain development.
The development of our brain structure is based on two main factors; experience shapes the properties of our neurons (experience dependent plasticity) and there are distinct time windows during early development that shape brain function.
This means that while children play they are also organising their way of thought and how they acquire information and store it. They organise information based on the sensory stimulation that is associated with it and not the content of the information. The brain will then build systems of knowledge (neural networks) connecting together related information and enabling children to recall facts, evaluate circumstances, and solve problems.
The brain is designed to form memories as a survival strategy so that it can understand and predict an outcome of a possibly fatal situation. When threatened, the brain shifts into reactive mode and treats information as a short term resource for survival. But when children are relaxed and enjoy learning, the brain will reflect on the information and a real learning opportunity occurs.
This is why we all struggle with learning things that bore us. The brain reacts to boredom in the same way it reacts to stress and anxiety and fails to reflect on the information and store it long term. We need to engage children in a variety of sensory stimulation and offer them opportunities to explore, imagine, and create.