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Imaginosity's Theatre and Programming Manager Liz Tyndall recently returned from a trip to Sofia, where she represented Imaginosity as part of the Zig Zag Festival. This European-wide project involving several children's museums, allows Imaginosity to share experiences, learn new skills and explore how other museums work around Europe. More information on the WEAVE Project can be found here. Here's Liz's account:

Untitled      Sofia

I was lucky enough to be chosen to go and represent Imaginosity as part of the Weave project in Sofia, Bulgaria this September, for three days at the Zig Zag Festival. As I jetted off on my early flight with a stopover in Frankfurt, I finally arrived at my destination in the early afternoon! Not long after I had arrived, I was due to meet the organisers of the upcoming event and many other people like myself from children's museums all over Europe. So I made my way to the meeting point looking forward to meeting the group.

Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and I was extremely excited to learn that I would be part of such an amazing festival and experience the following day. After the meeting, the group decided to go and take a look at the puppet fair that was taking place in the city that evening! There were puppet shows and clown performances taking place in a large outdoor square area, just outside the city centre, for anyone who fancied some entertainment. And the best part was it was FREE! So I was extremely grateful and really interested in watching the performances as my background is in theatre and I have a huge interest in puppetry and love to perform puppet shows myself. It was great to catch this added event during my trip and I definitely picked up some tips, especially in the use of sound effects!

Wednesday was the Festival day, all day. We met at 8am in a local park where the festival was taking place. There were 4 large tents, individual wooden letters that spelt Zig Zag (the festival's title), three workshop tables and an interactive fabric game for children to take part in. The Zig Zag festival itself is all about working with different fabrics and textiles in a very fun creative way. The children were learning to finger knit, weave, make key rings using yarn and decorate re-usable fabric bags whilst also being able to take part in an interactive fabric game! The children started at one end of the park where they collected a bag full of fabric and then they had the freedom to go to any of the hands-on areas to work with it creatively. I never knew how to weave before this day so it was super fun for me!

The interactive fabric game was my area and I loved it. Using large pieces of fabric children had to race through and weave with other fabric while their pals held up different colours of fabric each time! I thought it was so simple but so effective and the children were so engaged in it. If there was one thing I was taking home from Sofia it was this game. I will definitely use it again! I also learnt how to make pom poms from wool which I ended up adding to my clothes later that day. This might just be my new invention!

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Imaginosity's old friend Eco Badger has been with us since we opened our doors back in August 2007. Here he gives us a little insight into what it is like to be a central part of Imaginosity's green activities and a surprising resident in our busy museum for the last 7 years. Eco Badger lives on our Roof Garden......next time you visit, be sure to take a trip to the roof to say hello. But note that he always heads off into the sunset with his suitcase and suncream once winter begins to set in!

eco  bday cake girl lr

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 Building Photo Alan 3

This time 7 years ago we had just opened our doors and were beginning to welcome the first of hundreds of thousands of visitors that would eventually come to visit us over the following years.  But what do our visitors really think about Imaginosity? Why do they love coming back to the museum? And what are their favourite things to do when they are here? In order to figure out all of the above, we interviewed three 7-year olds who have been very frequent visitors to the museum over the last number of years.

Sienna Patterson is 7 years of age and from Dublin. Eabha Murphy is 7 years old but nearly 8 and also from Dublin! Luca O'Shea Breen will be 8 in 5 and a half weeks (but he's definitely still 7!) and from Co Wicklow.

Q1: WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF IMAGINOSITY?

SIENNA:  I like the roof garden because you get to play outside and get fresh air. It's cool. I love looking at the pretend badger, or not pretend???! He's funny because he snores but  he doesn't know he smores.

EABHA:  The Supermarket because everything is there: fruit, bread. You can learn how to scan the food, because it beeps, so if you wanted to be a cashier than you could. There's also a beanstalk and it reminds me of when I went to the pantomime to see Jack and the Beanstalk. And there's a treasure chest and funny mirrors.

LUCA:  The car! I think it helps kids in learning what it's like to drive on a real road. I also like the roof top garden, with the Badger's House and the toadstools that you can jump from one to the other. I'd give it 10 out of 10.

Q2: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IMAGINOSITY TO A CHILD WHO HAD NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

SIENNA:  It's a fun museum for children with loads and loads and loads of toys to play with. There are 3 floors, you can go up and up. There's a supermarket where you can shop and a boat with pirates and Rapunzel's hair right at the top that you can wave about. You can play the whole time and have fun.

EABHA:  It's a museum with 3 levels and it has a climbing frame to go up and down all the levels. You can get drinks and food and muffins in the cafe. There's a place where you can shoot the news, work the camera and be the newsperson. There's a pirate ship that you can pull the flag up and down.

LUCA:  It's a really fun place and you'll have a really good time. There are 3 brilliant, fun, fantastic floors, each with different things to do. There's a climber with different chambers all the way up which you can climb through. There's a rocket, there's dens and there's a ship.

 

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As we mark the lead up to our 7th Birthday celebrations, Imaginosity's General Manager Jenny Bohan takes a look back at Imaginosity's early days, while also taking a peak back at her own.

 

Growing up in the area, I fondly recall everlasting hot sticky days spent running along the old railway track picking blackberries to our hearts content. We would drift from a local estate in numbers and wander aimlessly exploring unchartered territory, well, as far as we were concerned anyway. But that was Sandyford then, many moons ago where the most exciting thing was a trip to the 'Tea Time Express' factory cake shop for a cream bun!

This is all hard to fathom when you view the heaving metropolis Sandyford has turned into. There's so much packed in its hard to find what you're looking for, even if you know what that is! Of course I am biased in saying the diamond in the rough has got to be Imaginosity, a stunningly beautiful building, developed by Landmark Enterprises and designed but Traynor O' Toole. But this gemstone is hidden, surrounded by towering buildings hitched up against the backdrop of the Dublin Mountains. Some are gleaming, flashy in the sunlight, some vast and void, unfinished memories of good and bad times. These beacon towers all stand sentry, watching as commuters spin past by car, on foot and light rail, but not oblivious to the memories or time flying by in the blink of an eye! Although the commuters do seem blissfully unaware of the cries of joy and screams of laughter experienced on a daily basis within this beautiful inspiring structure! If only they knew, the fun that can be had when you put your trust into the hands of a child.

I'm proud to say that I was involved in the development of this amazing and unique addition to Sandyford as a project Manager from early July 2006, and that all who were involved viewed it as a life's passion rather than a job. It was with children and community in mind that it was developed and continues to serve as a not for profit Charitable organisation. The concept gleams from the United States where the first children's museum was developed in Brooklyn in 1899, followed by Boston (1913), Detroit (1917) and Indianapolis (1925). Children's museums don't enforce strict schedules or agendas, they are places where children freely play and learn through their play. They house enhanced exciting environments that are specifically developed to allow for this non-directed play. These environments are powerful in their ability to engage children and stimulate curiosity, imagination, experimentation and role play. Children's museums celebrate children, but they also create quality experiences for families.

 

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By Joanna Fortune, Clinical Child Psychologist & 'Blog-osity' Monthly Guest Blogger

A walk around Imaginosity, Ireland's only interactive children's museum for the under 9's is like taking a stroll around your child's imagination, this is the inner world of a child brought to life. On offer is a myriad of rich interactive experiences for children to engage in; from meeting the Eco Badger up on the roof garden, and learning about how the unique 'green' building works, to making your way up the Climber past the Wizard's Lair and the Rocket Ship to Rapunzel's Castle. Of course, Imaginosity is a wonderful and fun place for children to be and we see this in how their faces light up when they are there, but behind the fun it is clear that Imaginosity is providing children with much more, a genuinely child centred learning, educational and development opportunity!

There is a Greek saying that 'Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play' and that is what we can all benefit from in Imaginosity.

There are 3 stages of Developmental Play (Embodiment Play; Projective Play; Role Play) which is how children develop their understanding of who they are and who the people and the world around them are, that sense of learning where the "I" ends and the world begins.

In summary, Embodiment Play is the first stage (from 0-3.5/4 years) and is essential to developing a sense of trust. Babies learn to trust in a physical way, not through words. This is a very sensory stage of play and touch plays a vital role. Imaginosity has two dedicated spaces for smaller children, 'Little me' on level 2 for under 12 months and 'Tir na n'Og' on level 1 for children up to 24 months. Both spaces offer smaller visitors a sense of security and safety in these specifically designed, soft play, tactile, enclosed areas.

Projective Play (from 3.5/4-5.5 years) comes next and here we see an increased focus on stories and narrations to further explore and investigate objects, people and their general environment at a deeper level. Engage your child in play with dolls and puppets in Imaginosity's theatre space and have the dolls/puppets play through things your child has experienced in their lives i.e. sharing with others, staying in their own beds etc. Level 1 in Imaginosity contains everything a child needs to "create their story" and is wonderful to encourage projective play.

Role-Play (from 5.5-7 or even 9 years) is the final stage and is about dramatic play, which children use to re-structure/re-arrange aspects of their life events to gain a better understanding of themselves and the world around them. There will be aspects of both Embodiment and Projective play evident in this final stage. Imaginosity's Performance area is perfect for this, as it allows and enables children to role play different characters and scenarios in a safe environment where they are in charge.

This is the seriousness of play and it is important that as parents we learn to play with our children and to become comfortable communicating with them at their developmental level, as a way of connecting with them and supporting their development.

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