Tag Archives: play

Weekly Photo Challenge: Play

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

Unofficially summer is over for me tomorrow…I head back to work to prepare for the new school year.  I’m not dreading going back–I’m lucky, I love my work.  But I do want to be reminded to continue to include play in my life, even when I am working.

Sometimes play is as simple as taking a photo of my cat and then messing with it in a photo app…like this one of Phil.  The intensity of his look in this photo just cracks me up…looks like he is saying, “How dare you…”

Phil

It’s also fun to play around with the framing of shots like this one using the prickly pear as a way to frame Lake Hodges in the background.

framed by prickly pear

There’s other kinds of framing that is fun to play around with too.  And sometimes it’s designers that create playful features like this one at the Huntington gardens where you can walk behind the waterfall…what a perfect opportunity to take a photo of the backside of water!

backside of water

Other features like this decorative opening in a wall became a playful way of looking at the gardens beyond.

through the open window

And then there is play beyond the camera too.  Visiting my son and daughter-in-law meant the opportunity to spend some time playing with their little dog Elli.  She’s a cute long-haired chihuahua and she loves to play!  She likes to sneak some licks, bring her toys, race around the room…  And of course, she is adorable!

Elli

And sometimes I like to play with my little magnetic lenses.  Today I had the fisheye lens out…one I don’t use too often.  I wanted to capture the flowering of the tree in my driveway. Here’s the fisheye version.

tree blossoms_fisheye

So this week’s challenge is to do some playing…with your photography or without photography…and then document it with a photo.

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #play for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Be sure to squeeze some play time into these last few weeks of summer!  Can’t wait to see what you are playing around with!

More than a Game

Today we played Monopoly.  We played in our Summer Institute…a leadership development program for teachers of writing.  And as you might imagine, this play had more than one purpose!

monopoly box

There is something wonderful about giving a group of dedicated educators a Monopoly box and asking them to play a game during an intensive professional development experience.  In our 4th day of a four week institute, we have already begun to bond, building trust and opening up, willing to be vulnerable even when faced with difficult topics and challenging situations.

The group seemed almost giddy about the thought of playing…even though based on the previous three and a half days, they knew this was not simply a board game break.  They started by forming groups of five or six and then selecting a writing utensil from a plate on their table.  A colored pencil, a smelly marker, a highlighter, an SDAWP pencil, and either one or two Crayola markers were mystery icons of the game to come.  After spending time as a group reviewing the written rules of the game and setting up to begin, the significance of the choice of the writing utensil became apparent.

Figuring out how to play

Those holding the Crayola markers were asked to begin playing…the others at the table were only allowed to watch.  In my role as observer I got watch as some started to play with trepidation while others raced forward with delight…”Hurry, let’s get what we can while we can!”  After the first player or players had played for five or ten minutes, the second group of players were invited in.  At indeterminate intervals and not knowing which category would be called next, the players who waited and watched seemed to withdraw and lose interest in the game.

playing monopoly

This version of Monopoly, which immerses players in an experience where everyone plays by the same rules…but the game is still not fair, is adapted from an article by Jost and Jost.  Our goal is to get our participants to think about equity beyond what is experienced by individuals and consider the systemic influences of poverty and racism.

As the game continued we saw our participants behave in some interesting ways.  Those that entered the game early seemed to play either with zeal…or with the weight of guilt on their shoulders.  They frequently assumed the role of helper…often moving the pieces for their late starting peers or even acting with seeming generosity, offering “get out of jail free” cards or waiving some small rents due to them.  The late starters either become apathetic about the game or downright devious…sneaking money from the bank or even wishing to land in jail so they wouldn’t have to pay fees that they saw coming as their money dwindled with each turn.

We saw early players become rule sticklers…at one point carefully explaining the rules to a late starter.

checking the rules

When time was called on the game, players were asked to take note of the results and then sent off to reflect on their experience.  What did they notice about themselves, their peers, the experience?  What implications does this experience have for them as educators, parents, human beings?

Our discussion was rich and layered…and sometimes downright contentious.  This experience opened up space for talking about systems: economic, social, educational…and the differences in access and equity that are often dismissed or not considered with our more typical focus on individuals.  And we’re not finished with these discussions…because although there are some who might ask, “What does equity have to do with the teaching of writing?”, we know that equity plays a crucial role in who has access to high quality teaching and learning…and who can see themselves as successful learners.  This game “hack” is just a beginning for us…we have much more in store in our next three weeks!

 

In the Spaces Between

Between the ocean waves and the shear drop of the cliffs is a stretch of beach…at least when the tide is low.  This was the perfect setting for a walking, photo taking, trash picking up meeting today.

There’s something wonderful about between-ness.  Meeting between activities we love and see as rewarding, walking this stretch between water and road, noticing the sun between the clouds, feeling the sand between our toes.

And today’s walking meeting ended with a wonderful, playful find…sand castles decorating the spaces along the cliff wall, tucked into small caverns, some close together, some standing tall and separate from the others.  This felt like performance art as I spied a couple, almost hidden, sitting up above this temporary work of art.  Were they the artists?  Perhaps…but either way, they enjoyed our delight in the sand castle find.

castles on the cliff

cliff castles

close up castle

castle on green

Play and Games

This first week of CLMOOC has reminded me again of the power of connected learning. Don’t get me wrong…I am a connected learner all year long, but there is something about the intensity and playfulness of the CLMOOC that amplifies the effect.  Earlier this week I had the opportunity to serve as a coach for an upcoming make, and when I learned the topic would be games I wondered just how much help I would be.  In online spaces when someone says games, I immediately think of Minecraft and Halo and other video games.

Instead, our conversation went to stories about games from our childhood…games we made up, unstructured time when we were left to our own devices and “forced” to entertain ourselves.  Terry brought up some research about the lack of games in children lives and I wondered how that could be true–aren’t people complaining that kids are too obsessed with gaming?  That’s when our conversation got really interesting…when we realized that game had different connotations in different contexts.  What we all worry about is how little time children seem to have that is unsupervised and free for imaginative play, exploration, making, and doing…not pre-structured by adults. (Many thanks for a rich, thought-provoking conversation Terry, Joe, Christina, and Michael!)

Here’s a link to the talk Terry had referred to:

My husband took today off from work and after we treated ourselves to breakfast out, we headed to the beach for a leisurely low tide walk.  It was warm and sunny, but not too hot, perfect beach weather.  And as we started walking I realized that my husband and I often make up our own games to keep our beach walks interesting.  Our latest “game” has been to search for beach glass as we walk.  It’s like a scavenger hunt, eyes tuned for the gleam of the glass worn by the tides.  We have very little glass on our beaches–probably in large part because glass has been banned on our beaches for a decade.  But when we started playing this game a few weeks ago, each find has become a treasure.  Here’s today’s haul.

beach glass

And Christina reminded me that my photography is a game.  And it’s become even more so managing both #sdawpphotovoices–a monthly photo a day challenge and a weekly photo challenge that I post on my blog and for the NWP iAnthology.  This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is #two…and I couldn’t resist snapping this photo of my husband fitting our flip flops in his pockets so we don’t have to carry them on our walk.  He puts one of each of our shoes in the pocket since mine are smaller (two of his shoes won’t fit in one pocket!).

two shoes

I also took some photos that I knew I would use to play around with filters and effects. This “still life” seemed perfect for trying out a new app (thanks Bonnie for pointing to it) called painteresque.  I love the effect!

beach stifflife paintereque

And then today I added yet another game to my photographic repertoire.  I’ve been wanting to take photos of “found alphabet” letters.  My rule (self-imposed) is that I have to photograph it as it is, I don’t get to arrange it.  Here’s a couple I found at the beach today.

Here’s a Y from kelp:

Y seaweed

An M I found in the cliffs:

m beach cliff

An O formed by a sea anenome:

o sea anenome

And who can resist the i made of bird poop!  (And it was washed away by a wave right after I snapped it!)

i bird poop

And part of the fun of these games is playing them with others.  It’s fun to search for beach glass with my husband, celebrating each find.  And taking photos is even more fun when others play along and we can share with each other and learn from each other.

I’m hoping that others will join me in the found alphabet fun.  I’m thinking I have two different “sets” I am searching for: found in nature and found on the beach.

What I love best about the CLMOOC is the spirit of playfulness and the ways we build on each others’ ideas and makes.  We are free to explore, to play, and to hack the structures presented. The connections are essential because they motivate and encourage and urge us on to try one more thing.  And thanks Terry, Joe, Christina, and Michael and the rest of you CLMOOC-ers for reminding me that I do know about games. Now I can’t wait for the game-focused make cycle! I’m already making up new games!

Playing with Cyanotype

Early this year I decided on play for my one little word.  And I have been making time for play on a pretty regular basis.  A lot of my play is related to photography and making time to take photos has me seeking out opportunities to explore that I might not have done otherwise.  I’ve explored places in my community that I have never been before…and I am definitely spending lots of time outdoors, especially on the weekend, rather than doing housework or even reading!

For Mother’s Day this year a manilla envelope arrived in the mail from my son and daughter-in-law.  As I opened it I found a typewritten note and a smaller manilla envelope.  I love the note, knowing that it was typed on a typewriter that my son found left next to the dumpster near his home…and that he typed it.  The note explained that I would find specially treated cyanotype paper that he had prepared for me.  It gave me step by step instructions for using the paper…and included a few “negatives” that I could try if I wanted.

I played around a bit…and then got busy so it has stayed in the envelope until last weekend.  I started thinking about that cyanotype paper and what I wanted to play around with.  As I headed out for my beach walk on Saturday, I purposely looked for shell pieces that would work with this positive/negative kind of exposure (a rudimentary kind of photography).  As we walked I noticed so many different kinds of shells and rocks…and sea glass!  I seldom find sea glass on our beaches, but for some reason pieces of sea glass kept presenting themselves.  We also found quite a few shell structures with holes and openings.

beach finds

When I got home, I pulled out the paper treated with the cyanotype chemicals and laid the shells out.  I took them out for about five minutes of sun exposure, brought the paper back in to rinse to stop the exposure…and here is the resulting cyanotype shell study.

shell cyanotype

I love the dimension of this print.  The way the shadows create an almost three dimensional effect.

This attempt excited me, so I gathered some plant pieces and created an arrangement on another piece of treated paper.

This created an interesting result, but I found that the lightweight plants blow when I put them outside…there were pieces of lavender on the lower left…and they left a faint impression when they blew away.

Then I grabbed a leaf branch from a tree in my backyard and created an arrangement with the beach glass as the grounding.

I like the way the beach glass produced an interesting effect when placed in the sun.  I tried another one today…and won’t subject you to the results.  Playing around with this printing technique is tricky.  Objects that are too dense or too thick create big light splotches that are less interesting and pleasing than those that have opacity or cast interesting shadows that create dimension.

I have only a few pieces of treated paper left…but my son tells me it is easy and relatively cheap to create my own.  I’ve had fun playing with this technique and created some interesting pieces. I think the shell study is my current favorite…although I do like this early piece I did with some dandelions and other weeds from the yard.

dandelion cyanotype

I like that I have been playing enough that others are giving me encouragement and opportunity to play more.  And I know that taking time to play is good for me, good for my family, and good for my students.  I’ve noticed that lots of my play is about making…making photos, circuits, art, movies.  And I’m looking forward to some more play and making when the CLMOOC begins again on Friday.  So maybe this post is a preview of another summer of making…and playing with others through social media and connected learning.  Will you join us and do some of your own connecting, making and playing?

A Pink Fedora

It was a pink fedora kind of day.  What does that mean, you ask?

This is parent-student-teacher conference week.  I love the opportunity to talk to families and yet, it’s a tough week for teachers.  Three hours of back to back to back conferences takes its toll…and it takes those precious after school moments usually devoted to planning and preparation and pushes them aside to make room for the conferences.  And, in conversation after conversation I find myself reminding students to be playful in their learning–that learning doesn’t mean routine and boring and something you dread.  You have to find ways to make it fun and interesting.  And that, in turn, reminds me to be more playful in my teaching and other responsibilities.  I have to find ways to make my hard days fun and rewarding too.

It seems odd to remind children to play, but when it comes to school and learning they seem to think that the path to learning is narrow.  They are looking for the one right way, which sometimes transfers to battles at home about that thing called homework.

I want “homework” to be curiosity and experimentation.  I want students to go home and explore ideas that came up in the classroom.  I want them to play with numbers and play with language.  I want them to figure out new ways to express their ideas in words…and in pictures. And I want them to come back to school and spread that energy and excitement around.  And some of my students do.

This morning, one of my students arrived at school wearing a pink fedora.  It was the first thing I noticed when I walked out to pick up my students this morning.  I could see him from quite a distance…smiling broadly and walking with the air of assurance that comes from knowing with confidence that a pink fedora makes a statement!

photo-101

Somehow that pink fedora represents that playfulness I hope for in our learning community. Playful doesn’t have to mean silly or distracting…and that fedora was neither today.  For me that jaunty pink hat was a talisman of fun, of individuality, of style, with a bit of hopefulness and joy thrown in.  I’m not so sure that the hat will arrive at school again…and that’s okay.  One day of the bright pink fedora reminds me…and helps me remind my students…to find the fun and the playfulness in our work and our learning.

I hope you had a pink fedora kind of day too!

Exploring Green: March Photo-a-Day Challenge

As we enter March, thoughts of spring fill our minds along with images of all things green.  And even though I live in southern California, a place that winter skipped entirely this year, spring invites lighter and brighter colors, the suggestion of new life, and a sense of renewal.  And then there is that all-things-green March holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, a day where everyone is a little bit Irish and a whole lot of green.

And besides color, green is a word with many different meanings and connotations.  It conveys environmentalism and jealousy, youthful inexperience and prosperity.  So for our March #sdawpphotovoices Photo-a-Day Challenge, let’s explore all of the possibilities of green.  The photos do not have to feature the color green, although some might, but instead the goal is to capture the multiplicity of meanings that green might convey.  Here’s some ideas to play around with…and each section ends with an invitation to explore and include something not specifically named.

Week 1: Nature, Vivacity and Life

photo-98

1  conservation

2  environment

3  living

4  nature

5  vivacity

6  preserve

7  what else?

Week 2: Springtime, Freshness, and Hope

8  fresh

9  spring

10  emerging

11  blooming

12  hope

13  wonder

14  what else?

Week 3: Fairies, Dragons, and Monsters

photo-97

(This picture has me thinking of mermaids!)

15  fairies

16  dragons

17 Leprechauns

18  monsters

19  imagination

20  creatures

21  what else?

Week 4: Jealousy and Envy

22  jealousy

23  envy

24  greed

25  permission

26  safety

27  covet

28  what else?

Bonus Days: Youth and Inexperience

29  youth

30  inexperience

31  what else?

After you shoot, post a photo each day with the hashtag #sdawpphotovoices to Twitter, Instagram, Flicker, Google+ and/or Facebook (the more the better!), so that we can all enjoy the posts.  If you are game for some more playfulness, compose a blog post about a photo, a week’s worth of photos, write a photo essay, make a video or slideshow or try a learning walk!  (More about learning walks here and here) You are invited to create a pingback by linking to this url or post your blog address in the comment section.  It’s fun for me to see what others are doing with the same prompts I am using!

Our goal is to play, share with each other, and learn from each other as we shoot our own photos and study the photos others shoot.  Each week includes six suggestions to explore…and one free choice.  You are welcome to follow them in order, mix them up, or exchange them for something that emerges for you as you explore green this month.  You can post every day, once a week, or even sporadically throughout the month…whatever works in your life.  Be sure to share and tag your photos with #sdawpphotovoices so we can find them!