Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

Pokemon GO gets us outside, but then what?

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016
Is there something wrong with this picture? (Screenshot of Pokemon GO video)

Is there something wrong with this picture? (Screenshot of Pokemon GO video)

I’m trying hard not to be an old fuddy-duddy, so please help me out. I want to hear from you about Pokemon GO (and other technology that gets people outdoors, but mostly PG). It’s only been around since Thursday, but the sensation seems to be sweeping the nation (or the world?), perhaps at a time when we could all use some positive distraction. It is summer, after all… And Pokemon GO does get people outside… kind of. Check out the official video:



I gotta admit, I was kind of appalled when I watched it. The players are outside, even in nature, but they’re glued to their phones. They smile at each other in passing, but they’re still on their own. But I’m sort of old-school when it comes to nature. I think that to best experience nature’s restorative benefits, you can’t be hooked up to technology. You have to unplug to recharge. There is some research that affirms this, but right now we’re talking about Pokemon.

My friend and I were sitting outside a café on a lovely morning last weekend when we spotted a young couple walking down the sidewalk, each staring at their individual phones. Then we saw another couple doing it and tried hard not to resort to the usual tut-tutting that we thought was reserved for our grandparents: “Kids these days, no one talks to each other, they’re all obsessed with their own devices,” etc. Then yesterday a Twitter friend said she’d gone down the Pokemon GO rabbithole and I looked it up and – bingo! Those kids were playing the game! So, they were outside (good!), they were sort of interacting with each other (good…), playing a game sort of with each other (good…)… but glued to a tiny screen, immersed in a fake reality, chasing a cartoon character, not interacting with anyone around them—not even the other couple that was doing the same thing. Hmmmmm…..

I try to be open to–and even embrace–new technology. I love apps that help me identify trees and butterflies, or that help me not get lost when I’m on a hike, or that connect me with other nature- and garden-lovers. I’m very excited about this invention that provides positive distraction to children before they go into surgery. I’m pretty sure that gazing at a nature view would not immerse these kids enough at that stressful moment.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 3.25.15 PM

I heard this piece on Morning Edition (“Pokemon Go: The Live Video Game Everyone Seems To Be Playing“) and this snippet brought up some interesting points:

Laura SYDELL: The western edge of Golden Gate Park is amazingly beautiful. There’s a view of the Pacific Ocean, a historic beach LA restaurant with a view of the water. Today, there are dozens of people that are in the restaurant parking lot. And they could [sic] care less about the ocean. They’re looking down at their smartphones. Danielle Sheridon says she’s searching for fictional monsters called Pokemon.

Dean Speer, 28-year-old personal trainer says Pokemon Go takes you places. You can’t play it sitting down. And the search reveals more of the world, like the entrance to a trail you’ve never noticed.

SPEER: I had walked by the entrance many times, never really realized it was an entrance. But then you’re like, wait, that’s a trail. And then you walk back there and suddenly there’s creeks and trees. And I’m like, oh, there’s more of this than just Golden Gate Park.

But, “judge not lest ye be judged,” or at least “see for yourself,” so today I reluctantly downloaded the app. And – surprise! – the site is so busy that I haven’t been able to try the game yet. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, what do you think? Is Pokemon GO fantastic, good, bad, evil…inevitable…all of the above? Leave a comment here, or join our conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. We’ve been getting some great comments, click on “comments” below to read up.

Screen shot from the video. Is he sort of looking at the fountain…?


Nature School Conference: September 23-25, 2013

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013
Nature play in a schoolyard (Courtesy: ISGA)

Nature play in a schoolyard (Courtesy: ISGA)

Our sincere apologies for getting the word out about this conference this late. However, it’s an important one for the record, so I’m posting it anyway. If anyone is going, please report back!

Join Evergreen Brick Works and the International School Grounds Alliance for three days of inspiration and idea sharing with visionary leaders of the green school ground movement. The Nature School Conference takes place in Toronto, Ontario, September 23-25. Attendees are coming from as  far away as Japan, Norway, and Australia.

Some of this year’s breakout sessions include Food and Gardens in Schools, The Need for Beneficial Risk (in school- and play yards), and Cultural Considerations in School Ground Design. The International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) is a global network of organizations and professionals working to enrich children’s learning and play by improving the way school grounds are designed and used. Open year-round, Evergreen Brick Works is a community environmental centre that inspires visitors to live, work, and play more sustainably.

Along with plenary speakers and inspiring breakout sessions, a pre-conference tour of three local educational spaces takes place Sunday, September 22. To learn more about the conference offerings, plenary speakers, and presenters, visit the Evergreen web site. For even more information, Amal Musa, Conference Coordinator at  or 416-596-1495 ext.248.


Nordic Adventure: Connecting Children with Nature

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

International Conference in Copenhagen and Malmö, September 2013

No matter the weather or the season, Nordic children can always be found playing outdoors. The upcoming conference, Nordic Adventure: Connecting Children with Nature, will feature keynote addresses and workshop presentations on the myriad opportunities for connecting children to nature  in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The conference takes place September 10-13, 2013 in Copenhagen and Malmö. The registration deadline was August 20 (sorry, we’re a little behind on our blog posts) but if you act fast, you can probably squeeze in there.

Scandinavian nations have long since worked with adventure and nature playgrounds, school gardens and green school grounds, forest and outdoor preschools, education for sustainable development, and many other nature-based initiatives for children. The English-language conference will be a mixture of plenary sessions, presentations, site visits and social experiences.

For details and information on registration, contact the planning committee:, and visit the conference site.

Lovely reminder

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

The original playstation


May is Older Americans Month

Monday, May 7th, 2012
Senior hikers cross near a waterfall. Photo by Amriphoto

Senior hikers cross near a waterfall. Photo by Amriphoto

We’re never too old to play!

Children are not the only ones who reap health benefits from being in nature. Adults of all ages, including the eldest among us, have much to gain by routinely accessing the outdoors in gardens, parks, urban trails, and other green spaces.

For the past four decades, the federal Administration on Aging has promoted May as “Older Americans Month” as a way to encourage communities to sponsor activities and celebrations that keep elders, 62 and older, engaged, active and involved in their lives. “Never Too Old to Play” is this May’s theme.

As we age, access to hospitable, navigable and social environments becomes more important to maintaining overall health – fitness, flexibility, strength and social support. Numerous studies conclude that regular exercise helps elders to prevent falls and fractures; reduce their risk of strokes, heart disease, and some cancers; and lessen cognitive decline.

Read more about the health of  older Americans by visiting the Administration on Aging’s Older Americans  web page.

We’re not usually in the habit of referring people to business websites, but Must Have Play is a company that focuses on play and playground for elders, and they have some good information on the why’s and how’s: And here’s a guest blog post by Must Have Play’s founder, Michael Cohen, on the Aging in Place website: “Have you heard? A playground for elders!