Your Dream House (As a Kid)

If you love houses, you probably have a “dream house” or at least elements of a dream house, compiled in a scrapbook, random folder, dog-eared pages in a stack of magazines, or perhaps on the enormously popular Pinterest. Maybe you live in your dream house. But, take a step back. What would five-year-old you or ten-year-old you say when asked about a dream house? Was it based on a book, on some enormous sitcom house (really, why did they always have two staircases?), or something entirely unique.

My sisters and I spent a lot of time playing in our large maple tree because it had just enough good “sitting spots” – as we called them – for all four of us. We never had a tree house, but we had a little playhouse in the backyard that Dad built. And if you asked us, the Swiss Family Robinson House, like the one in Disney World, would have made a fun house for us. We’d dream up crazy things like a backyard full of playground tunnels and trampolines and zip lines. What more could a kid want? Or maybe a big farmhouse with a large wraparound porch overlooking fields and meadows would have suited us. We loved to play and run outside.

Why do I ask? I love a stroll down memory lane, and while nostalgia always joins in, distorting some of those memories, I think it is important to remember what you dreamt about as a kid and what was important at various ages and phases in life. Think about it: we talk about sense of place as adults. We discuss our built environment, the intangible aspects and how to improve our quality of life. But, if you aren’t a parent or don’t have young kids involved in your life, how often do you think about sense of place and the environment from their point of view? Of course, all generations are considered in our environment, but I would guess that adults might not be able to articulate everything that children think is important.

Do you have kids? Ask them about their environment, the buildings, the landscape – what they like, what they see, what they don’t like. And if you don’t have kids, do your best to remember what you thought was ideal as a child. It will help us make our environments and community more meaningful to all.

NPS WebRangers

At many National Parks across the United States, children can become Junior Rangers by completing a book of activities relating to their visit in the park. They talk to park rangers about their answers and then receive a badge, patch, or certificate. To participate in the parks there is an age limit, but now the National Park Service has a WebRanger site for kids of all ages!

The WebRanger website. Choose your own ranger station!

On the WebRangers site, kids can create usernames (or just visit) and begin their adventures. The activities are too numerous to list, but include word games, maps, puzzles, mazes, and many more in order to learn parks’ history, about the work of park rangers, animals, associated people, science, and nature. Kids can even sign up as a Ranger and have a ranger station, track their activities, view webcams, and send e-postcards. Check out the site here.

And the NPS has even more activities for kids interested in the parks, whether it’s a coloring sheet to match the park, fun facts, and much more. Check out the kids archaeology program, where kids can learn about the different types of archaeologists and what they do (it’s not like the WebRangers program, but a good introduction to archaeology).

Way to go National Park Service — the people who are a part of the NPS are always doing great work and really trying to showcase the resources of the parks. So, check it out. I know a few “older” kids who would love to be a WebRanger…

Bingo!

You have most likely played bingo at some point in your life, the typical number bingo in an elementary school cafeteria or perhaps you were one of the lucky kids to have auto bingo cards.  My sisters and I had yellow auto bingo cardboard cards with red sliding covers for each object (telephone wire, stop sign, train, truck, etc.)  Now you can search for “auto bingo” or “travel bingo” and find a wide variety of bingo cards.

Have you ever played architectural bingo?  Greater Portland Landmarks of Portland, Maine has developed architectural bingo with suggestions on how to play outside or even online. It is a great, fun, easy way to practice your architectural terms and identification skills.  On the website Greater Portland Landmarks helps out bingo players with a glossary and offers a printable pdf card with directions for playing. Of course, you can always make up your own rules. This is great for kids or students of any age. Download the card here. Who wants to play?!

architectural-bingo-greater-portland-landmarks

 

Have fun! If you feel creative and want to make your own regionally based architectural bingo card, send it to Preservation in Pink.

Preservation Chat is Everywhere!

I love my post office, mostly because it is a historic building with leaded panes and real window muntins. There’s an eagle on the front of the building and a mural on the inside. The interior of the postmaster’s office has beautiful wood floor and tall ceilings. Luckily, these features tend to overpower the slowness of the post office and the fact that I often get the same piece of wrongly addressed mail in my mailbox, despite writing “return to sender.”

Anyway, today while standing in the long Saturday line waiting to mail a package, a mother and her three elementary school age sons stood behind me. They were quite adorable and I enjoyed eavesdropping on their conversations. My favorite part occurred was when the oldest boy said to his mother, “Mom, why is that door there? I bet there used to be stairs there so they could get upstairs. Maybe they use a ladder to get up there now.”

Truth be told, it’s just a high ceiling and the door leads to the postmaster’s office, but it just made me to smile to hear a nine-year-old analyzing a historic building. Granted, he had no idea what he was doing but it’s evidence that there is a foundation and an interest to teach these young children about preservation! How often do adults just ignore their surroundings and never think to ask why something is the way it is. So let’s get out there and educate these children who are more than willing to learn (usually if they don’t know they’re learning!)