Guess who visited our office last week? Carly Ciarrocchi!
Carly is a Brooklyn-based performer who works primarily in kids’ media — helping kids and families stay curious, playful, and kind. She’s worked on shows like Sunny Side Up, Sprout House, and The Big Fun Crafty Show. She’s absolutely hilarious.
Like Carly, the littleBits team works with kids every day. We’re laser-focused on making technology that helps them to create, to invent, and to play. That’s why we were so grateful to her for bringing new perspective, and some great reminders, to our work when she advised us to play, investigate, and bounce every day.
Why we PLAY.
If you’re working with kids, whether you’re a performer, a teacher, or a parent, maintaining the spirit of play is key. Unfortunately, many adults have trouble relating to kids and don’t exactly remember how to play with them. We’re often wrapped up in rules and instructions, but kids just want to jump in and explore.
Carly reminded us about the importance of modeling play — of relating to kids in a silly, creative, mind-opening way. Need some ideas? Here are two great games that will get your [and your kids’] creative juices flowing:
- Use concepts that kids know and love. Kids are better able to participate in things that they are familiar with. For example, does your kid love the song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm?” Think of a totally new song based on the melody by changing a few key words… “Little Joey Had a Restaurant,” anyone?
- Play the naming game! Look at the space around you; really look at it. Then, start calling everything you see by a name other than what it actually is — a “desk” could be a “tangerine;” a “book” could be a “bagel;” and so on. This is an exercise that will get you and your kids out of the habit of seeing things as they are, and looking toward what they could be!
Why we INVESTIGATE.
Investigate the world around you. Carly, who works with kids, talked about the importance of checking out the latest kids’ television shows, podcasts, and music. She talked about the importance of staying on the cutting edge of what you’re passionate about so you are an informed participant in the world around you.
For those who work with kids, Carly recommended Wow in the World (Guy Raz, Mindy Thomas) and Mario “the Maker Magician” Marchese, a New York-based, touring children’s performer known for his DIY robotic creations, handmade props, and signature slapstick character.
Taking the idea of investigation a bit more literally, Carly encouraged us to always be looking for solutions to problems in new ways. Keep an open mind; solve problems by asking questions rather than looking up the exact right answer answer; work around obstacles by coming up with big ideas to solve them. You never know what you might learn!
Why we BOUNCE.
Establish a rhythm in how you communicate with kids. This will be different depending on who you are, who the kids are, and how old they are… but it is important. Kids look to their adults to set the tone for many life situations; it’s up to us to follow their cues and set the scene for a life of learning and discovery.
That said, it’s important for us to be present for our kids. To use our hands, our bodies, and our ideas to engage with kids. And to help kids use the same tools to be creative, get themselves “unstuck” from problematic ideas, and focus their energy. To help them bounce back; to embrace failure, to learn from it.
And there you have it: three awesome ideas that anyone who interacts with kids can take to heart. Thanks again, Carly!