Fun at Sandbox Summit

Last week I attended Sandbox Summit at MIT! The conference was a mix of educators, researchers and folks from the toy and children’s media industry. I got some cool stuff in my “swag bag”; discussed kids, media and learning from a new perspective; and saw some really fantastic presentations. A few of my favorites…

Fred Newman was magical. He sang, he acted, he made me laugh, but most importantly he demonstrated the power of sound in telling a story and eliciting emotions. Sound can significantly alter our experiences. Think about watching a horror movie with no sound – it’s not really that scary without the freaky music leading up to something big. Clearly, this has implications for designing media for children, but for me, Fred Newman’s presentation was really a reminder to slow down, listen and appreciate all the natural sounds around us.

When asked what his favorite thing he ever made was Dale Dougherty responded, “Make Magazine”. Dale changed my view on what being a ‘maker’ means. For example, he counts his love for cooking in his making activities. Being a “maker” doesn’t mean doing something grandiose or even techie. It’s about exploring an interest and creating something that makes you happy. Maybe that’s baking a cake, knitting a blanket, taking photographs, building a shed, or making a scooter powered by an electric drill. Think about it like that and we’re all makers!  Check out Dale’s talk:

David Kleeman, President of the American Center for Children and Media, conducted a workshop on provocative kids’ television from around the world. We watched clips from TV programs that showed kids tinkering with tools outside and mixing foods in the kitchen. Yes, they were unsupervised and could have gotten hurt, but the kids were exploring, asking questions, and using their imaginations! Some of the TV programs covered serious topics, such as divorce, sexuality and physical disabilities. My favorite example was The Little Kid and the Beast (trailer) about some of the effects of divorce. Why don’t we see these kinds of programs in the U.S.? Why are parents so afraid to address serious issues with media?

And finally, Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, co-founders of JibJab Media and StoryBots shared their passion for kids and media. I love that they’re creating tools for kids and parents to create, learn and laugh together. Ok I admit it…I had some fun of my own.
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Check out their talk from Sandbox Summit:

Thanks so much to the folks at Sandbox Summit for putting together a great conference and for making their content available for us to share.

A version of this post was originally published on WorkingExamples.org.

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