Okay this will sound a bit lame,
I’m looking to inject a little more fun into my life. It’s amazing how little “fun” adults have compared with children. I’m in the perfect place for it, and yet I have forgotten “how” to have fun. So I’ve decided to look back into my childhood and find out what was fun for me because loud music, lots of drinking and yelling at each other while fending off extremely drunk people is not my idea of fun, yet it seems to be the only acceptable way for adults to experience fun.
So my list goes like this:
- Creating a cartoon series
- Writing poems (I used to keep a poems book when I was 8)
- Playing imaginary games (we’ve ended up on this new planet with amazing plants and blood sucking creatures)
- Caring for animals
- Walking on the beach, building sand castles and swimming in the ocean
- Singing (often with an imaginary microphone)
- Astronomy, star-gazing, constellations (which led me to sci-fi geekdom)
- Watching cartoons
- Watching clouds
Is this typical? What did you like to do as a child?
Of course I had to dig into more research and I found this amazing TedX Talk by Michael Shore about the elements of fun for children. He didn’t go into specific toys or activities, but focused on the feelings that come from “fun”. Here’s a bit more about Michael Shore as well as the TedX talk.
Michael Shore, Ph.D. is currently Vice President of Worldwide Consumer Insights at Mattel Inc. Prior to joining Mattel, Michael worked as an Insight Consultant specializing in children’s trends and development. His clients included Kellogg’s, Electronic Arts, Activision, advertising agencies as well as television/film studios. Since starting at Mattel, over 15 years ago, he has had responsibility for investigating kids’, parents’ and adults’ attitudes towards toys and play across all categories including dolls, action figures, vehicles, board games, digital (Web/video/PC games), plush, sports, craft activities, construction, and infant/preschool products.
Here are my takeaways from that video
What is fun?
A feeling of:
1. I’m free – living in the moment, running around, liberation
We all love feeling a sense of freedom. For kids it’s running around with glow in the dark toys, exploring nature and open spaces, flying a kite. What’s the adult equivalent? I guess hiking in nature, extreme sports, beautiful spots to sit and think.
2. I dream – imagination, possibilities
I did this a lot as a child. I was curious and enjoyed thinking up new possibilities and ideas. Creating art, music, drama, dress up and what ifs? We usually combined this with “I’m free” often playing “superheroes” tag. As an adult this is mostly squelched or relegated to the “fine” arts.
3. I’m special – luck, exception
Everyone likes to feel that they are special. Think of backstage passes, first class or priority seating or even a behind the scenes look at something for adults. Christmas and birthdays make children feel special as well as occasionally being able to stay up past their bedtime.
4. I belong – acceptance, collaboration
As a teacher, I’ve encountered this many times. The group is working together on something, creating a symbiotic group. Whether they’re doing something useful or dangerous (running around with sticks is always dangerous in my books) doesn’t matter. Usually children know their strengths and weaknesses and will often self-assign their role in the group based on what they’re good at and usually what’s most fun for them. Adults often see collaboration as work, but often acceptance in a social group, community or workplace is the equivalent. And true collaboration is lots of fun too! (think MTV Awards).
5. I’m Wacky – delight, vitality
Whoopee cushions, pulling silly faces for photographs, wearing outrageous clothing. Okay this is a weak point in me, but there are a lot of people who are amazing at being jolly, silly and getting a good laugh. I guess my best example would be the comedian Miranda Hart spending vast amounts of time and effort to get a goat into the middle of the classroom just to hear the teacher exclaim, “Why is there a goat in here?” I would have loved to be in class with her.
6. I Know – exploration, accomplishment
Finding out new things, experiments, following hunches. All of this is fun for me. I am okay at directions (except in Koh Samui where I don’t know where half of the roads lead) so when my husband and I moved to a new place in New Zealand. I tried at least 3-4 different routes and exits to get home. It was lots of fun! Trying new things is something natural for children and they enjoy doing this. That is why field trips, pictures and the internet is so important to integrate when teaching children in a classroom.
7. I’m Cozy – relaxing
I guess cloud watching was our version of relaxing. Many people think kids are all about energetically running around and although they have their moments, most children enjoy relaxing. I had one kid at the pool spread his towel and lay back, and stick his hands behind his head. He stayed there for a while and when a teacher asked him what he was doing he replied, “I’m enjoying my life!” What do you do to “enjoy your life?”
8. I’m Proud – benevolence
This is similar to I Know. This is when a child gets to recall or recount their past accomplishments and achievements. This type of “proud” is a feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated. Teaching the teacher, telling someone how to do something (in a nice way of course, e.g. a five-year old once told me step by step how to gut and cook a fish, It was fun for her just to get all the steps right.) and getting those badges or button in boy scouts or girl guides can be a fun experience.
9. I stand out self-expression, passion
Singing, dancing, acting, art, sports these all are a short list of how we can express ourselves and follow a passion. Passion has become a “buzz” word for adults and work now. But what is passion? Do you even remember what it feels like? Most young children have this in abundance. Their self-directed play is where they gravitate towards their true passions. Do we even remember what that feels like as adults? Are you aware of your passion? Do you feel passion for life?
10. I dare – bold, defiant
This is truly how to stand out and be different. To conquer both inner and outer fears. For me this came when Parachuting. I had to jump out of a plane, flying 3000 feet in the air, by myself. I think at one point I felt like I’d rather die than jump, but something deep inside me came up to the surface and I jumped and I’m so glad I did. What are your bold ideas, goals or movements? What are your children’s?
Let me know how you feel about this and share this with your friends!
Lakshmi Gosyne is an author, illustrator, web designer and teacher. She worked as a preschool and primary school teacher for 16 years and a Graphic Designer for 4 years before writing two yoga story books: Jungle Walk: A Yoga Story for Kids and Waiting for Dad: A Yoga Story for Kids. You can find out more at www.lakshmigosyne.com