We see the “Block Party” we hosted in April 2013 –imagined initially as a simple fundraiser – as an example of a community process that highlighted the importance of the learning environment and the capabilities of children.
That winter, we saw the beautifully crafted and durable “Outlast” outdoor blocks from Community Playthings for the first time, and we were immediately filled with longing… knowing they would work wonderfully well in our outdoor learning environment – but they were SO expensive. Our board suggested that we throw a party as a special fundraiser… for one thing, it felt like “time” for another all-community party – the last one was in 2010 for our 20th birthday. Not to mention that Pierce Freelon (father of Justice and Stella Pierce) and his band The Beast had been looking for the right opportunity to play on our back deck for a community event.
We decided to make the party ABOUT Blocks… and the importance of building… and the power of kids who build… so that we would have a collective sense of celebration and significance about raising the $5000 we needed for the new blocks and storage shed for outdoor pretending props.
Here at school, we built up to the party with some morning mail surveys intended to get everyone thinking about the power of blocks. And at the party, we did several things to honor the importance of children’s building:
a super-tall tower
a pizza without olives.
a house without furniture.
a bike with no wheels.
a handyman without a hammer.
shoes without soles.
a party without friends.
a library without books.
a bed without a pillow.
they remind me of Children First.
they can be used over and over a million different ways.
they encourage you to use your imagination.
they make awesome obstacle courses.
I love climbing and I have memories of climbing on big blocks with Jake, Ayo and Maya.
you can spend an entire day playing with them.
they make a beautiful noise when you stack them (and when they fall).
there are a million different ways to combine them – never ending creativity.
they keep me from being block-headed.
one big block.
a horse stable.
the second world trade center.
a bridge to Europe.
a bridge to home.
a giant tree house.
a fort that’s cozy and lots of nooks and spots to hide.
a big obstacle course with gymnastics equipment.
a set of stairs up to the sky and outer space.
a giant neighborhood dog house.
Puff the magic dragon.
a giant castle with a guard dragon.
a tree and tree house.
a yellow brick road where everyone is invited to walk and play together.