[Week 1 Activity] Childhood objects


The most influential object of my childhood would be art materials. Paper and something to draw with were things that I carried with me everywhere - even to this day you’ll find a notebook with a pen/pencil tucked inside my bags. There is something about putting a pen to paper that satisfies my brain. I did eventually get my degree as an artist and I integrate art into everything I do.

Childhood objects that we (my sister and I) took from our visited places were rocks. We had such a collection! I remember my sister carried a purse specifically for her rocks wherever we went - it was ridiculously heavy for a small child. Pretty hilarious when I think about it, but we were very serious about our rocks.

And my most prized childhood collection were my horse figurines. So treasured were these horses that my mom took it upon herself to save them carefully for years, even moving them when she moved (knowing that I was not in a place to keep them myself). My own children were recently gifted with some similar horse figures and I almost cried. I think it’s time to pass that collection on to my own kids.


Simon. I loved Simon as a child, and I played it often. I was attracted to the lights more than the sounds, but I soon learned that memorizing the patterns definitely had to do with the both the light and the sound, combined. In fact, I must have realized, too, that the repetitive tactile patterns helped my memory. I loved getting into the Simon zone, concentrating only on sound, light, and tactile patterns. It was only in the zone that I could play well, and I realized that if I came out of the zone during a game, and started recognizing thoughts and feelings like, “I’m doing really well,” that’s when I messed up. Playing the game over and over, constantly seeking to improve my score, I guess I was learning to enjoy focusing and concentration. I still really enjoy things that challenge my concentration in combination with a physical movement- you should see me play Bop It! I’m awesome.



I loved to find insects in my backyard with my mom. I carried around my little field guide like a bible. I had my first experience questioning authority when my 1st-grade teacher told me a bug on a worksheet was a spider when I knew it was an ant. I remember bringing in my little yellow book to prove that she was wrong. bugbook


Half a dozen neighborhood kids use to gather in my yard every afternoon to play wiffleball. The ball itself was a sphere the size of a baseball. Half of the ball had holes that let air flow into the ball. Depending on the grip with which you throw the ball, it will curve, drop, or dance in different ways. We would play with different grips and different arm angles to see the resulting action. Lightweight and perforated, the ball flies slowly. As I got older, I wanted more speed. Making a wiffleball cut through the air faster required weight and a solid surface. Wrapped in electrical tape, it flew much farther, much faster.


I would have to say a desk is what would descripe my childhood. I loved playing school. It affected my way of thinking and learning because all I did was play school growing up. That shaped me to want to be a teacher.


My favorite Childhood toy would have to be legos. I used to play with all types of lego sets and would always ask for legos for my birthday or for Christmas. This started to make me curious about the world around me which really affected the way I learn in good way.


Ultimately for me: the sun-baked clay pot.

I had a slew of inspiring objects. On skimming through this thread, I’d say a few are well covered: erector sets, Lincoln logs, trikes, a pet, a fence, a bush, discarded checkbook registers and pilfered pens, spiro gira sets. I figured mud objects would feature at the top, but ‘advanced search’ of the forum suggests, to my surprise, mud objects remain unnamed.

When I was in kindergarten, my family (Mom and 6 kids; I was number 2, the instigator) lived in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We were a few minutes’ bike ride from a wonderful wall of ever-wet clay. That cliff must have been 30 feet tall and a few hundred feet long, all available for the taking. All we had to do was clear away a thin layer to get the prime stuff.

Of course we were the first to invent coil pots. The 3 eldest of us excavated and made them together, over hundreds of constructions. I’m not sure how our best secrets got out, but now coil pots are all over WikiHow videos and the like. Those tutorials follow the exact technique that we developed through long series of trial and error. Ours were sun-dried, of course, set on a warm slab of backyard concrete.

I’ve not thought of the experience since, but certainly now realize how elated I was at the time that you could make what you want, and didn’t have to rely on finding (and being able to mow enough lawns at 25¢ each to afford) absolutely everything in a store. That notion was quite freeing. Our supply was endless. Failure was without cost.

It seems likely to have been my first experience of setting criteria for quality and working to achieve it through trial and error. We made lids almost as a rule. They were the most challenging, though more pots were victims of fatal cracks than lids that dried and no longer matched their mates. I can still smell them, wet and dried. One smell held a moist and delicate promise, the other a dusty finality.

Pottery Making 4

Now that I have read the essay, on reflection I’d say this mud pot experience with my siblings undoubtedly made my preferred software development models feel obvious (the affective knowledge acquisition Papert mentions). It has likely informed how I structure projects. The parallels are fun to recognize. In both cases, the raw materials are available for the taking. The costs are time and expectations (or effort and quality, to use product/production-oriented vocabulary). The challenge is to have a team agree on objectives, then prototype, identify techniques and materials that bear reuse, and make incremental improvements–not to mention shipping then fixing.

One final thought: mud predates the computer as “the Proteus of machines. Its essence is its universality, its power to simulate. Because it can take on a thousand forms and can serve a thousand functions, it can appeal to a thousand tastes.” What would be the internet of mud (IoM)?



By the way, in case you’re not familiar with differentials, and how simple, necessary and brilliant they are, take a look at this video:

it’s well worth the time spent watching!


As long as I remember I have been enchanted about knights, dragons, and castles. I played and re-enacted famous battles and novels (still do) during my holidays with my cousins and friends.


It has to be the Boogie Board for me! I grew up with my Dad taking me to the beach, surprisingly frequently given that we didn’t live super close to the ocean. Not only did the Boogie Board help keep me afloat as a young kid learning to swim, it turned the ocean into a never ending game of walking/swimming out to the breakers and riding the frothy waves all the way into shore. The boogie board undoubtedly led me to spend more time swimming in the ocean than I would have otherwise, and it let me become intimately adapted to the forces and motion of waves.

I wouldn’t say that I continuously progressed as a body boarder from my early experiences as a child, but my love for (and comfort in) the ocean was definitely born from those days on that foam board. In college, when I learned to surf, is when I realized how profound an affect it had. Surfing added the athletic dimensions of paddling out, standing up, and balancing, but it also required building upon that intrinsic understanding of the ocean and waves’ behavior in order to catch a wave with perfect timing.

The first time I stood up and dropped-in on an unbroken wave, my soul filled with the familiar joy (plus a little extra adrenaline) that kept me splashing in the waves with my boogie board as a kid. As an adult though, I connected this sensory-motor experience with my cognitive love and fascination for the ocean, which I know will be a driving force throughout my life.


@aglambert and @Sandra: On the topic of trees, I too loved climbing and playing in trees as a kid (and still today!). That love inspired me to design a tree-climbing kit for Play design class I took a couple years ago:

I’m sure liability issues make it unlikely to be seen on store shelves anytime soon, but it was blast to make and use!


Hi Jenice,
Did you come to from where we come from and to where we are going?


I found this questions to be really difficult. What object from my childhood interested and influenced me? Unlike Seymour Papert, I don’t have a clear memory of any one object. I was fortunate to have an idyllic childhood where I was free to play and explore the outdoors. Trees became my home above the ground, sheets of iron leaning against a wall became a secret hut and my bike took me on adventures in the surrounding neighbourhood. Then, when the rain fell I had puzzles, dolls, books and art materials. I can’t pinpoint one particular object, but instead many objects contributed towards developing my imagination and enabling me to create my own world.


My object is a rag doll that my grandmother made foe me. Unfortunately, I no longer have it as it fell apart form over use. I used to make up stories using the doll as inspiration. I also used to throw and spin the doll to see how it moved through the air.


As a child, I used to roam around with colors a lot and so my object would be a box of crayons. I would like giving different colors to object, it would bring a sense of calm, happiness and structure in my mind. It still does that.


I have to say mine was the easy bake oven. I loved watching my Grandma and Mother cook, so was happy to have my own little version of an oven to contribute. To this day I still host many family events like Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and July 4th where I make many homemade meals and treats.


Oh boy, great question!
There are a few things that I still have lying around that for sure contributed in the choices I have made growing up and as an adult. The first thing I come to think of is something I have on my work desk, the ZX Spectrum from 1982. This (and other computers from that era) gave me at least a basic understanding for technology and how it could be controlled, which we never addressed in school (even though we should have according to the curriculum from that time).
The second thing that comes to mind is my old tennis trainer (tennis ball on a string) which my kids and I occasionally use during summertime (we play “real tennis” too).
Regarding learning, I think I quite early realised that motivation, commitment and perseverance are important if you should learn something :slight_smile:



I had many different types of toys growing up from traditional dolls and blocks to erector sets and tangram tiles. What I loved most, though, was the elaborate fantasy world that I could escape into in my backyard and the woods that surrounded my neighborhood. My imagination was my place of safety and freedom. In school I often felt fettered by teacher expectation or learning goals that didn’t match my interests. When I got home, I would rip off my shoes and socks, run outside and become amazing characters overcoming impossible obstacles of my own invention. Sometimes this fantasy world involved other children in the neighborhood and sometimes I interacted with imaginary children or creatures. The fantasy experience was very real to me, so much so that sometimes I had to take a break from one adventure and start another because my own story lines were getting too complicated or too scary. In time I taught myself to have agency over my own imagination so that I could reign it in when needed (but it was also a lot of fun to get lost in my ideas). As an educator I sought to cultivate this experience for my students. I developed frameworks of safety so children could engage in prolonged periods of fantasy play as they worked out big ideas or social situations that interested or challenged them. As I became an adult and it was less socially acceptable for my to “escape into fantasy”, supporting my students’ creativity and imagination allowed me to exercise my own imagination. Playing together supported the learning of my students in a reciprocal way, building a community of creative practice was always important to me. When I became a school administrator I tried to cultivate this same environment for my staff, but found that it was difficult to maintain with other adults. Part of what I am hoping to learn during this course is new techniques for unlocking and inspiring the creativity and imagination in other adults so that more work environments, particularly those in education, can be playful and engaged.


When I think about objects I surrounded myself with in my childhood, I envision playing school. I used to gather stuffed animals, Barbie’s and my sister around a pretend classroom in my playroom. I had a chalk board and white board hung on the wall that I would write my lessons onto. My dad let me use an old keyboard for typing. My mom would make me copies at her work of self-created/hand-written worksheets. Overall, I loved any kind of supply that had to do with school or art. I was drawn leading and learning!


For me it wasn’t an object so much as a space. I loved playing outside and had a huge yard in the country to do so. I would head out to the early in the summer to ride my bike and just play.