Seven Days of Neighborhood Play

A group of seven kids got pretty intense about aiming stomp rockets and shooting them into the 2nd floor window of our playhouse.

My boys’ neighborhood play lives are quite rich. They play everyday outside in our neighborhood, usually with other kids.

I’ve recently started twittering about it (twitter name: “playborhood”). You can see my twitter feed in the middle column of the Playborhood home page (to the right of where you’re reading if you’re on the home page now). You can follow this journey blow-by-blow if you “follow” me on Twitter.

This provides a flavor both for our successes in creating a life of neighborhood play and for the day-by-day struggles I encounter to make it even better. I’m certainly happy with the progress we’ve made thus far, but I’m far from satisfied. I’d still like to see more independence, more creativity and more participation from neighbor kids.

Below I summarize my “tweets” from a recent week of my boys’ neighborhood play experiences. I provide a bit more polish and detail than I can do in Twitter, which is real-time and has a 140 character limit per message. [Notes: 1) The “boys” are my sons Marco (4-1/2) and Nico (1-1/2). 2) I only describe what I saw when I was home and not working – i.e. not during weekdays during the day.]

  • Thursday, April 30: pre-dinner – the boys swing and slide | post-dinner – Priscilla and the boys draw on white board; later, Jack (2) and the boys play in the sandbox, then play chase/soccer/broomball.
  • Friday, May 1: pre-dinner (heavy rain outside) – the boys and Priscilla (our nanny) play chase in the house | post-dinner – the boys and Jack play in the fountain and sandbox
  • Saturday, May 2: morning – Jack, Libby (Jack’s mom) and the boys play street hockey | post-dinner – Julia (3) and the boys swing and slide
  • Sunday, May 3: afternoon – wild day => Jonathan (5-1/2), Abby (3), Eli (5-1/2), Ani (3), Julia, Jack, and the boys play in the front yard, back yard, and a neighbor’s house for two hours. They do lots of things, forming into subgroups and moving around a lot.
  • Monday, May 4: two boys visiting from Ohio and the boys swing and slide | post-dinner, the Ohio boys the boys play street hockey, draw on the white board, and play chase
  • Tuesday, May 5: the Ohio boys and the boys swing and slide, chase, and draw the on white board | post-dinner – Ernie (7) and Marco throw a football through the window in the playhouse; Tiffany (4), Steve (2) and Nico swing and slide, play wiffle ball, and jump on a huge beach ball
  • Wednesday, May 6: post-dinner – Max (9), Will (7), and the boys swing and slide; McKenna (11), Zach (8) and Bailey (5) climb over the back fence to join us; all kids shoot stomp rockets at the window of playhouse

So, how have we managed to get this level of play activity? It hasn’t been easy. I’ve written on aspects of our efforts, but I have more to write. I’ll also be writing in the coming months on a lot more efforts we’ll be making to bring this neighborhood play activity to a higher level. Stay tuned…

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2 Responses to Seven Days of Neighborhood Play

  1. sanfelice says:

    Ha! We just got our first stomp rockets yesterday. Those things are a blast (pun intended).

    As to the playborhood, in our area outside of Boston (close inner ring suburb), the biggest issue is traffic calming. I’m interested in hearing from other folks here about traffic calming to allow for kids to move about (never mind play) without fearing for their lives.

    Any thoughts on this?


  2. Mike Lanza says:

    Chris – My approach to that problem was to move to a much safer street. It’s that fundamental. Here’s a great book on the subject if that’s too radical for you:

    Street Reclaiming