Why Childhood Objects?


Hi everyone!

Today @JuliaS posed a great question that already generated very interesting conversations in the forum:

Why childhood objects?

What do you all think?
What is special for you about this activity? What do you think it has to do with creative learning?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

[Wk 1 Activity] Childhood Objects

Maybe not the case for everyone but an obvious reason is that we are looking to teach children.

Many presenters fail to empathize with their audience. We approach new learners as if they should understand what took us years and years and years to learn. Lessons can become more self-congratulatory than educational.

Spending the time to put yourself into a different set of eyes provides you invaluable perspective.

Their is also a simplicity to a child’s mind. We currently have these developed, complex notions of pedagogy patterned after our study and/or experience. Helping us use our own ideas from a different time in our life help us take our advanced knowledge and walk it back in time.

With this exercise, we focus on our most favorite target (ourself) but redefine our context. We see ourselves as a fresh learner, with fresh eyes and much different interests and motivations.

It is a useful practice in exploring our roots and reconsidering our future audiences.

For me personally it was useful as a practice in capturing wonder and empowering curiosity. And that is useful because in the creative learning practice I want that to be my main output.

Childhood objects make more sense because children tend to have more readied access to wonder and curiosity. My own past makes sense because I’ve been me for 31 years and have a solid understanding of “me”.

If I am looking to capture something, it is useful to go to a place of great abundance that I have done some research on.


Play and creativity are linked together and fully working in childhood, as many authors say, so to reflect about our games could be a way to go to the root of our personal creative process. I think that another value of this exercise is to remember as we were, what we care, to better understand our pupils.


Maybe because a childhood object is something that fosters curiosity, it is engaging and has the potential to teach something to the child. Also, It is not boring, but fun, and it can be a teaching/learning source.


Creo que es por el tema siempre hay algo que marca nuestra infancia, ese objeto que miramos y nos imaginamos muchas cosas y jugamos y jugamos, nuestra imaginación sigue ahí latente , también puede ser algún objeto que siempre quisimos no pudimos tener. En ambos marcan nuestras infancia…


My husband teaches creative writing to undergrads and he will often start a course with this exercise: “Describe the kitchen in the house you grew up in.”

From a teaching standpoint, I can think of a few reasons to do this. Please chime in with more:

  • For the group, it’s a good “bonding” exercise. Something most of them will have in common and be able to relate to each other on
  • For individuals, it’s a good warm-up assignment. In a writing course, it’s a way of saying, “See? You can write about anything!”
  • For creativity - it’s an opportunity to discover and make a connection btwn something deep, perhaps a psychological insight about yourself, in something mundane, a childhood object or something from the kitchen you grew up in
  • For LCL which has a mission of connecting some qualities of childhood to lifelong learning, it’s a way to conjure up memories of those qualities in adult students

What other reasons can you think of for a teaching team to issue such a prompt?


Well, since I asked the question, perhaps I should add my thoughts to this thread as well. I understand that Childhood Objects, especially the ones we remember years later (to be able to answer the LCL team’s question and pick something :wink: ) should be something that left an impression on us, that sparked our curiosity, that showed us some wonders of the world and made us explore. I think the idea of this course is to remind us that adults can also study creatively too,(and maybe they should).
After reading the article about “Lifelong Kindergarten” and “Gears” I thought how much we learn as children and how easy it is, almost effortless (if encouraged correctly). We enjoy trying to build a tower with bricks, and even if it falls down, we start again wiser. As adults, we learn to analyse, to fear failure (so if our brick tower falls it feels like all our lives fall apart…), to be focused on success. Kids don’t yet have this sense of “if I fail in this particular thing, it means all of me is useless”. They take it as it comes, by parts. So, perhaps “curiosity killed the cat” (eventually) but I bet that before that the cat learned a whole lot of stuff! :smile:


One of the most important things I believe to consider about a fruitful learning experience is to know or recognize what is our passion, what kind of things or topics call our attention. As a personal experience, I spent so much time looking for what was interesting to me, and after years I found it! And I recognize that knowing what kind of things inspire us, we can put all our energy in that things and learn whatever is necessary to get our goals! This point of view maybe apply for young people or adults. For children, I think we don’t visualize any clear goal, we just want to have fun and share with friends, we want to play, and we are not worry about nothing; but if we love something we want to take care of what we love (an object, a pet, a person). Maybe that’s the main reason we need to remember the “thing” we used to love when we are child; we need to recover our inspiration source from our memories, from our feelings, from our self. Understanding the way children love, we can be emphatic with their needs, and even emphatic with us.


One important part of the prompt is not just that we were choosing an object from our childhood, or even an object that was important to us as a child, but one that influenced us. So we aren’t just looking back to how we were as children, but also at how those interests and qualities shaped who we are as adults. Many of us have linked that childhood interest with a lifelong quality or passion.

One assumes that most of us are here because we are still in touch with our childhood creativity and curiosity and want to help others to hang on to that, develop it, and capitalize on it to make their lives and the world better. Seeing the wide variety of objects that people chose, the wide variety of experiences and qualities that we connect with and value, will hopefully help us to create opportunities for others to be similarly inspired.


I think we were asked to think about a childhood object and how it impacted our learning, because children are naturally creative: they follow creative learning process without even knowing that they are doing so.
Therefore, thinking about one personal example is a great way of understanding creative learning process.


Childhood objects are instrumental in creating the childhood experiences that in turncreate the mental models and understanding upon which to build further understanding and knowledge as one grows older and gets new experiences :slight_smile:


Hi! As I was reading the lectures for first week, I get the sense on that. The idea that each of us is and can be our own gear to our learning process, stuck on me, I understood that if you could fall in love with an object o thing in your childhood, you could use it in infinite ways of learning without you noticing it. Plus, every theory in history has said that childhood is the definite period of someones life that constructs who you are.


According to biologists, the period of childhood in man lasts longer than any other being living in nature.
Throughout this period we begin to form our network of knowledge through learning processes.
Although learning is a lifelong process, childhood is the most prosperous period for the formation of knowledge bases.
In this sense I believe that the objects of our childhood are fundamental to create relationships with the world around us. I see them as enzymes that facilitate the learning process, a sort of stargates towards unknown worlds, all to be discovered.


A própria criatividade que o brinquedo desperta, proporciona meios para construir algo diferente, uma nova idéia surge. Por exemplo, brincar com cubos, colocar um em cima do outro, explorar todas possibilidades.
Eu quando criança, pegava monóculos, e colocava insetos dentro dele…
também gostava de descontruir os brinquedos (claro que não tinha retorno)


I love the connection you made with the childhood object reminding us of who we were and what we cared about so as to connect better with our pupils… I wonder though, how you see that manifest itself?


I really think the objects and play of childhood shape us in significant ways. I teach very privileged middle school students, and I am often amazed at how some of them cannot solve problems for themselves and cannot understand how simple machines or systems work. To me this stems from lack of creative and explorative play. And the cherished objects of childhood are probably often items that figured largely in our imaginations and creativity as children, which establishes our views and approaches to the world and life.


My experience has been that childhood games simplify learning and remove roadblocks that may cause us to think that a new concept is difficult to grasp.


because childhood is the period of life where the foundations of all our later thinking are created.
The bases of our thinking, moreover, are created from informal, everyday learning processes.


Childhood objects remind us of simpler times, back when we didn’t have to worry about much (or so it seems today).

I loved experiencing the emotions I felt when I thought of my post with an old computer. It’s something that has popped up in my mind a lot as I continue down my teaching career path. I think that we also remember when we used to play more, and how along the way, that tends to disappear.

Let us not forget to play.