Sequitur is word association game. The kind of game you'd play anywhere with anybody any time you'd all feel like playing. One of those perfect "waiting" games you'd play at a restaurant while waiting for your food or in a line while waiting to get in or in a car while waiting to arrive.

I quote liberally:
"Any number of people can play, and there is no time limit either for the length of a turn nor the length of the overall game. Players can determine any limits for each game when they begin. They can even pursue other activities in the meanwhile, with the game played in the background...

"One player begins by stating a word or phrase.

"The next player then adds another word or phrase that is somehow associated with or suggested by the previous entry...

"At the end of the series of turns, the players reconstruct the entire chain in reverse, as a collaborative group, not taking turns. All participants pitch in as needed, since all the conceptual shifts and associations are contained in their aggregate memories."
Sequitur is what I would call a Pointless Game, to which, of course, author and Puzzle Mistress Kate Jones, would profoundly disagree. She is one of my more profound friends.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Junkyard Golf Course and Community Buildng and Potluck - renewed

You could think of it as a Memorial Day gift. Or better as a gift to your family, and maybe your friends' familes, and maybe even your neighborhood.

It's the revised version of amazing, all-encompassing, inventive, creative, inclusive Junkyard Golf Course and Community Building Event with Potluck.

Click on the link below and celebrate each other!

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


The Bilibo Game Box - a child's tool kit for game invention

The Bilibo Game Box is not just a toy. It is a tool kit for the very young game designer (age 4 and up) and an invitation to inventiveness for the rest of us.

The Game Box contains a die with interchangeable faces and six sets of differently-colored discs that fit in each face. There's also a set of six, plastic, hand-sized "mini-Bilibos," in each of the six colors corresponding to the colors of the discs.

Bilibos are shaped something like pregnant plastic Pringles, with holes that look almost like eyes. Full-sized Bilibos are big enough for a kid to sit, spin, rock, float, climb in or on, or pretend with. The simple, friendly, colorful design invites creativity, exploration, and invention, and nurtures playfulness. No moving parts. Just a funny shape to explore, define, redefine, shape your dreams on. Mini-Bilibos are just as strange, just as funny, just as fun to play with. And, as son-in-law Tom observed, function quite satisfactorily as doll helmets.

The die is called a Bilibo Pixel. It is made of some surprisingly bouncy and slightly stretchy plastic. The corners are so wonderfully rounded that it rolls as well as bounces almost as well as a rubber ball. Button-like pieces fit in each of the faces of the die where there are cavities deep enough not only to accommodate any of the discs, but also to fit little messages or prizes, or, if you are so inclined, weights. So you can play around with fate, as it were, making some of the faces the same color or all of the faces different, adding and removing things behind the colored buttons to influence where the die might fall and add further elements of surprise.

The Bilibo Game Box gives your child a set of almost infinitely enticing properties and relationships to explore. Without even reading anything even closely approximating rules, the child will find herself using the die in some way to indicate which mini-Bilibo she should aim for. Aim what, you might ask. Any of those color-coded, button-like discs which can be slid or juggled or tossed or tiddled under or over or through. Or strung together, for that matter, or strung together with a mini-Bilibo.

As children continue to explore the properties and relationships of the Bilibo Game Box, they will inevitably discover that the elements can be used in conjunction with a surprisingly varied array of other objects in their environment - chairs and steps, tables, counter-tops, floors. They can make targets and game boards with sheets of paper, ramps and obstacles out of paper plates and sheets of cardboard, die-launchers and Bilibo-flippers out of spoons and rulers.

Alex Hochstrasser, designer of the Bilibo Game Box and associated products, has created a work of playful genius. The simplicity of the components belie the elegance of design and the depth of understanding of the nature of creative play.

There are several delightful videos on Youtube that illustrate a few of the plethora of possibilities contained in the Bilibo Game Box, and a well-illustrated booklet that accompanies each Game Box for yet more ideas, and, soon, even more will be on the Bilibo website.

Despite all these resources, please, consider this: the more you and your children play together with this, openly, inventing games from scratch, without any guidance other than that which comes from your collectively playful hearts, the greater the value of your experiences with this remarkable toy. If you want ideas, let your children be your guide. The Bilibo Game Box is remarkably innovative and brilliantly designed, but the real value of it only becomes apparent when it is used as a tool for playful, inspired invention.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Grass Stain Guru - Defender of the Playful

Read, for example, this blog post describing 10 More Can't Miss Childhood Moments. Here, in case you are so reclined, the first five from the first ten:
  1. Toasting a marshmallow on a stick, anxiously awaiting the sweet goo that is to come. Learning to master the perfect toasty brown color equal parts art and science, in my book.
  2. Wading in a creek toes wriggling in the light current, knee-deep in fun. Looking under rocks for critters and sailing boats made of sticks.
  3. Climbing a tree! The world has never been as beautiful as it looks from a perch in a glorious (and sturdy!) tree.
  4. Catching fireflies on a warm summer night. Pure magic awaits! (Of course, be sure to let them go.)
  5. Building a fort. Somewhere special, just for the kids. No kit houses required just some sticks, bushes, maybe a tarp and a lot of imagination.
Then read the Ode to Dirty Sneakers. And then Kids Choice: Self-Directed Play. Then go on to read this entire gem of a blog. Then you'll understand ever so incontrovertibly clearly why Bruce Williamson nominated Bethe Almeras to join the much-honored ranks of Defenders of the Playful.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


A Modest Collection of Pointless Games

You've seen this.

You've might have seen this.

You could have come across this.

And even thought about arranging for one of these.

Now, at last, you can download this.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


Alexander Calder - Defender of the Playful

Sculptor, inventor of the mobile, Alexander Calder, receives our first posthumous Defender of the Playful award.

Watch the video to find out why.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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"Leisure Play is Important for Human Collaboration" - download the entire paper

In a previous post, I cited an article by Dr. Peter Gray, who writes a blog called Freedom to Learn, published by Psychology Today. After a brief, friendly exchange of emails, Dr. Gray agreed to share his entire paper Leisure Play is Important for Human Collaboration with us. You can download it here.

Coincidentally, his blog currently features an article of similar noteworthiness called "Social Play and the Genesis of Democracy," in which he writes:
"Children cannot acquire democratic values through activities run autocratically by adults. They can and do, however, experience and acquire such values in free play with other children. That is a setting where they are treated as equals, where they must have a say in what goes on, and where they must respect the rights of others if they wish to be included."
Clearly we have found yet another Defender of the Playful.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith