Definition of play: engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose; engage in (a game or activity) for enjoyment; amuse oneself by engaging in imaginative pretence;
Since I make toys – and I’m a mother of a little one – I begin to grow more and more curious about playing. How children these days play, how parents interact and play with them, how can we play in a fun way with them, how playing can help children’s development…
For this interview I have the pleasure to introduce you to Arielle and her family.
Please tell us a bit about you and your family.
My name is Arielle Goddard. I am an artist, designer, and arts educator living in Los Angeles. I run a mobile art studio and blog called ART CAMP. My husband, Paul, is in finance and accounting. We’ve got that whole opposites-attract thing going on. We have two girls; Riley Rose is 11 and Harper Rynn is 5 years old. We call them our yin and our yang because they are polar opposites. Ri is an old soul; very cerebral and poised. Harp is my wild child; a natural performer, very high energy, and incredibly funny. If she could quit school and take the stage right now she would.
We are surrounded by really beautiful parks and playgrounds in Los Angeles but I think our favorite playground is the beach. My girls love combing the beach for treasures; rocks, sea glass, sea shells, feathers.. sand crabs. We are always on the hunt for the “perfect drawing stick” and when we find it we carve giant love notes and intricate patterns in the sand.
On a free day, what is your family’s favourite activity?
We love taking day trips. The best is when we get the chance to drive north along the coast to our favorite sleepy little beach town, Carpinteria. If we are home, a perfect day would start with an Açaí smoothie bowl at our favorite breakfast spot, some outdoor play at the beach or the park, arts + crafts time, plus a good book and a lot of snuggles.
How do you play with your girls? With what kind of toys?
Imaginary play is big at our house. Our living room has a project going at all times. My girls build forts, they stage puppet shows, they sing, they dance, they raid my closet and play dress up. It’s a three ring circus and aside from the inevitable trail of mess they leave behind I wouldn’t change a thing.
What is your favourite toy? And your children’s?
I don’t buy my girls toys of the mass-produced plastic variety. They have a wooden barn and animals, a large assortment of wooden blocks, a few cherished dolls and softies but beyond that I give them access to recycled materials, art supplies, and lots of books. Less is more— “give them tools and let them make” is my motto. I often hear: Your girls are SO creative and I usually say yes, they are, and I believe this is why.
When you were a child what did you play and with what toys? What was your favourite one?
I was horse-crazy as a girl so my favorite toy was actually a collection of Breyer horses and a beautiful hand made teddy bear that had a pocket in the upper left section of her chest. Inside the pocket was a little stuffed red heart that you could slip in and out. Her name was Amelia.
What kind of crafts/DIY projects do you like to do with your kids?
I have been teaching art for 20 years so both my girls had a paint brush in their hand while they were still in diapers and they started “assisting” in my classes at the age of 5. When it comes to Art and Crafts we do it all— painting, drawing, collage, print-making, 3-d crafting, up-cycling. Both of my girls are very into wearable art so we have done a bunch of those types of projects recently (necklaces, rings, crowns).
Do your children prefer playing or watching tv? Does what they see on television influence how they play?
We don’t have cable so all the tv watching is done through streaming devices which means that they are not being bombarded with advertising and I know exactly what they are being exposed to. When Harper was little and obsessed with Peppa Pig, she turned into a mini anglophile. It was pretty cute to hear this little American toddler use the word plaster instead of band-aid, buggy instead of stroller, trolley instead of shopping cart. I was even cheeky mummy for a stretch. Harper is very influenced by characters and themes she sees in her favorite shows. She is much more the performer, so familiar story lines appear in her pretend play often. Ri is much more the book worm with a curious, scientific, mind. She is more likely to watch a documentary series and then blow you away with the amount of data she has stored in her 11 year-old brain. There was an American TV show called ‘Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader’? I often joke with my husband that, in fact, I am not. She knows SO much!!
What is your children’s favourite book? And yours (from their collection)?
Ri’s favorite series is Harry Potter. Her favorite book in the series is The Goblet of Fire because it’s “when things start to really heat up and get interesting.” H is learning to read this year and we’ve been reading chapter books like the Ivy & Bean series. I am drawn to the magical illustration in picture books. I think Ian Falconer is a genius so the Olivia books are tops on my list. I’m also a big fan of Christian Robinson’s Last Stop on Market Street, Gaston, and Antoinette.
Please ask your kid “If you could choose to be a storybook character what would you be? Why?”
Riley, Age 11: Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events. Violet is an inventor and an engineer who uses her wit and skill to get her siblings out of sticky situations. Whenever a problem arises she solves it by creating a solution. I would like to have that ability someday.
Harper, Age 5: Fancy Nancy because she loves dress up and using big words like me.
Do you know how does your children play at school?
H started Kindergarten this year. I hear lots of school-yard tales. I think they are very into playing “house” because she comes home excited when she gets to play anything other than the “dad”. “Mom, I got to be the kitty today!” Ri is a 5th grader this year and I think the play has turned to girl talk with the occasional soccer match against the boys (who HATE it when the girls win).
Your kids prefer playing indoors or outdoors?
My girls need to get outdoors every day. It doesn’t always need to be a major event like a walk in the woods or a trek to the beach. Sometimes we keep it simple and just take a walk around the neighborhood. Both my girls are innately visual so they are very tuned into their surroundings. Most of our walks include collecting interesting leaves and bits. Sometimes I will send my girls out on a scavenger hunt with instructions like find me something green, find something shaped like a heart, a purple something…
Sounds and music are important in your child playing?
Both of my girls are very musical. Harper was gifted a ukulele for Christmas, and loves strumming and singing. Ri plays the piano and the guitar. I think art and music go hand in hand so it is a big part of our life.
What a cute family! – Thank you so much sweet Arielle for sharing with us a little of your world!
Arielle is such a nice and creative person that’s impossible not to follow her blog Art Camp – where she shares all the crafts and DIY she does with her kids and students. And she has a gorgeous old camper turned into a mobile studio. Here on Instagram.
I would really like to know how your kids play? What’s their favorite toy, the one they cuddle at night?
Please leave a comment below.