Research has shown time and time again that FUN is not simply silly, but actually improves learning and cognition!
When kids are doing fun hands-on activities, especially with people they trust and care about, they are taking in information through multiple senses, and that congruence creates rich memories. In other words- learning sticks!
Creating places of beauty and fun interactions in our urban spaces should be a priority! And in #beaverfalls we are making it one through our Playful Learning Initiative.
The decision to invest in Playful Learning Landscapes arose while hosting the learning pods during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeing the need for early language and math skills at pre-reading and early grade levels, we believe that using art to playfully integrate learning goals into the built environment will be an equitable and accessible solution for our community's learners.
Through the Arts Equity Reimagined grant from New Sun Rising, we are able to both support local artists and connect the arts and education ecosystems in fun ways to promote more equitable learning. Playful Learning Landscapes is an evidence-based model that has been widely tested in Philadelphia and around the world. And they learned that transforming public spaces like supermarkets, laundromats, and parks with well-designed games truly support children’s development! How cool is that!
These Playful Learning Landscapes will focus on multigenerational communication, collaboration, and social interactions known to support learning. In addition, innovative artful and playful learning in high-traffic areas creates community equity and is especially urgent as a response to the learning losses experienced by many students during COVID-19.
So, think about this . . . Playful Learning Landscapes have the potential to give all children access to high-quality environments that will help them in the future.
Beaver Falls will be the future location of 3 Playful Learning Landscape installations in 2022, created by local artists.
We can't wait to play all day . . .
Neighborhood North launched their “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign by partnering with our local McDonald’s to distribute books with each Happy Meal. This project is presented in collaboration with Too Small to Fail, a national initiative of the Clinton Foundation and its Pittsburgh Peer Learning Collaborative, a cohort of nine organizations in Pittsburgh focused on boosting the early learning and brain development of children from birth through age five.
“Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” aims to give parents and caregivers the tools to talk, read and sing more with their young children from birth, increasing meaningful interactions that are critical to healthy brain development. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, almost 60 percent of American children start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language, math, and social-emotional skills. Research shows that during the first years of life a child’s brain forms one million new neural connections every second and absorbs information like a sponge. This is why simple, everyday interactions with young children—like describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories—can better prepare them for school, and lay a strong foundation for their social-emotional development, health, and lifelong learning.
As part of their “Talking is Teaching” campaign, Neighborhood North has partnered with the local McDonald’s restaurant and the regional Tri-County Management team to distribute books and literacy kits with each Happy Meal, install signage that encourages curiosity and interaction into the restaurant and baby changing stations, and integrate tabletop activities in the Children’s Area.
Neighborhood North has also trained McDonald’s management and staff to be trusted messengers in the community and share information with parents and caregivers about the critical role they play in their child’s early brain development. These trusted messengers will distribute language-rich Talking is Teaching materials—including books and literacy kits that encourage parents to talk, read, and sing with their children.
Learn more about Too Small to Fail in our blog post.
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