Over the last year we have been working with the Barbican creative learning team on a residency programme for Barbican Blocks called Blocks on the Move.
Through the Blocks on the Move programme, Barbican Blocks have become a resource for various children’s centres, community organisations and other institutions engaged in supporting children at play. Through a collaborative program of training and practice sharing Co-DB Play and Barbican have been able to support staff and families across setting to enjoy and explore the full potential of the Blocks.
We produced a handbook to accompany the blocks to each residency. It has been great to remind ourselves about the Blocks too and why they are such a fun, exciting and successful tool for adults and children a like to exlore the world and the built environment.
After each residency we ran a practice sharing session with setting staff to gather thoughts and feedback on the blocks, how they used them, what surprised them, what worked well for them and what they discovered and will take forward into their wider early years offers. My favourite was the addition of light weight ball pool balls which the kids transported, rolled and threw along the paths they created. Using all the information gathered we worked together to co-design a new block to be added to the stack for the next residency.
The new blocks:
Atizan Library: Massage
Constructed from hand milled beech half spheres on a spruce plywood base. This was inspired by parents saying that they enjoyed the blocks with a rougher texture as they felt therapeutic for their feet. This one really is for the parents to enjoy while their kids play.
Hilldrop Community Centre: Slide
Constructed from a hand painted upholstered foam wedge with lacquered birch plywood top. At Hilldrop Community Centre they said that the children attempted to create bridges and slides every session. The lacquered top will allow kids to easily slide with out the worry of propping blocks on top of each other while the painted fabric side give the impression of being a slide over water.
Holborn Community Association: Hard or Soft
Constructed from green Valchromat inlaid with natural makeup sponges. At our practice sharing session we discussed how we could make a block which was the opposite of the massage block giving the inverse sensation. This block surprises your feet as you walk over it, also preventing a fun challenge for children just learning to walk.