The 2018 Wild Rumpus: An Anji Play Experience kicked off on June 18 - a wet, rainy day complete with a rainbow!
This year, the summer event series expanded to three Madison Parks (Brittingham, Haen, and Reindahl), bringing over 2,450 participants throughout the 9-week program.
Anji Play promotes self-determined play focusing on five pillars: love, risk, joy, engagement, and reflection.
After children play, they are encouraged to reflect by creating a "Play Story" and talking about it with their caregivers, promoting language development and writing or pre-writing skills as well as gaining the inherent benefits from the process of thinking more deeply about the play they've just engaged in.
Play is Learning
Throughout the summer, we saw kids collaborating on ladder courses and other structures - building them, testing them for stability, adding pieces, playing, and regulating usage by other kids (and adults!).
Among themselves, they would discuss stability, risk, and safety as they were building, and even helping to lead younger kids through the obstacles. Children would ask their parents for help before finding it within themselves to solve a problem.
One mom reported that her 5-year-old declared (unprompted), "I feel like this program is teaching me to be kind." The parent continued, explaining how the program has inspired her to start giving her kids more opportunities to problem-solve their own issues, outside of Anji Play, when they go to the playground or elsewhere.
Embracing the Philosophy
And that's really the goal. Anji Play doesn't need to be something that happens only at the park once a week. It is a philosophy you can carry into other play realms with your child.
"Every time we do something without being certain about the outcome, we take a risk. For that reason, all true learning is inherently risky. As adults, stepping back and seeking to truly see children, feels like a risk but the benefits are, in fact, certain," says Jesse Coffino of AnjiPlay World LLC.
Making It Accessible
Not only did Anji Play give parents and kids opportunities to discover something new within themselves, it also helped them discover the library in new ways and made activities like these more accessible.
On some occasions, library staff showed up with Spoke N' Words - the library's mobile library brought to the community by way of a bicycle.
"As a working parent, it is so nice to have a library program out in the community where I don't have to make a special trip into the library."
This winter, Wild Rumpus received some special recognition by the City of Madison when librarian Carissa Christner accepted the Mayor's Design Award on behalf of Madison Public Library, Madison Public Library Foundation, and Madison Parks.
The Mayor’s Design Awards recognize innovative public projects focusing on neighborhoods, arts, sustainability and high-quality design.
More to Come
There is plenty more Anji Play to be had. A new library series will start in June 2019.
Always check the events calendar on the Madison Public Library website for the most up-to-date event listings.
Mondays: June 24 - August 12, 5:00-7:30pm
Brittingham Park [829 W. Washington Ave.]
Wednesdays: June 26 - August 14, 5:00-7:30pm
Haen Family Park [7702 Tree Ln.]
Thursdays: June 27 - August 15, 5:00-7:30pm (no program July 4)
Reindahl Park [1818 Portage Rd.]