Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Story Behind our Collections: Made in Me

Carla & I started Sisters Guild with adventure in mind.  Our passion for the world of child, home and mama, sometimes takes us on a journey to unexpected and exciting places.  Not long after we launched the boutique in the autumn last year, we came across the Land of Me and it instantly spoke to our creative hearts and curious minds.

The Land of Me is an educational digital story book where you decide what happens with the characters on their adventures across different lands. It is DVD-rom that once loaded onto your computer opens up a red antique-looking book with gold lettering which reveals a new world to discover.  It is utterly engaging - with the beautiful music and illustrations you instantly know a magical journey is about to begin.  It's a joy to see your child's face light up as they step inside the Land of Me.  It all starts in Bramble Wood with the 3 young friends Eric, Buddy Boo and Willow....

There are 6 chapters to choose from on your adventures:  the Hot Springs with Yama-San to discover Shape, Size and Colour; the Cliff Tops of the Mountains where Mr Rigby helps you explore The World Outside; and one of our favourites, the River Bank with Bernard the Crocodile, where you can choose a song and the style - Twinkle, Oompa or Doo-Wop!  Your journey is shown on the Land of Me map. A map is something that always causes much excitement and my own boy was thrilled to have the map printed off - yes, there's a whole section of printable material that is part of the Land of Me DVD too! Masks, finger puppets, structures, vehicles, dioramas, hats and more!  It's just a matter of clicking on the scissors symbol.

So, where did the Land of Me spring from?  Back in 2008 James Huggins joined forces with some of the world's leading educationalists and a team of creative people who together were able to use their knowledge, insight and creative talents to come up with a unique game, a new digital way of playing, storytelling and interacting.  The company they founded was Made in Me, a company that seeks to inspire young children to learn by exloring their creativity and imagination. James Huggins has 2 children of his own so part of his own journey is how fatherhood and all it's joy and discovery helped inspire the Land of Me.

Aimed at 2-6 year olds the Land of Me is designed to support early childhood development and creativity and is now being used effectively at home and in preschool and primary school settings. The Land of Me blog shares with us the schools and places the Land of Me has sucessfully been able to support childrens creativity and imagination.

Made in Me believe it's all about play:  Playing together is fundamentally important for early childhood development. The secret is to gently encourage children to communicate what they're thinking and feeling, and to help them develop and express their ideas.

What I appreciate about the Land of Me when playing with my son (aged 3 1/2 yrs) is that he is able to lead the way.  The story is a process of decision making, of making changes and seeing the results of those changes. The way a child interacts with the game is very intuitive. As a child is naturally curious, they will wonder 'what happens if I press the spacebar now' - each page is full of surprises.  There's lots to giggle about too - some lines have become part of our family chatter, such as Willow in her sweet little voice saying 'Has nobody noticed I'm an ice-cube,' as seen here in The Outside World when you select 'The arctic on a stormy night:'

The level of detail in the Land of Me is quite astounding. The team at Made in Me are clearly very creative and passionate and have been able to make a very inspiring experience with well chosen voices, very real sound effects and movement and so many different posibilities to interact. With the example above you can hear the wind howling and this sound along with the moonlight and the posture of the characters creates a very real atmosphere that draws you in. Your child can then say 'Let's make it hot' and you can click the sentence, select hot and the scene changes.  At a deeper level you can also substitute the words for others such as 'scorching' and it will recognise that adjective and change the scene, as the example below shows.  It's an excellent tool with which to explore language with your child.

The Land of Me also provides an insight into your child's mood and feelings. Gabriel will always choose the funny option in the stories and the 'medium' for the size and speed options in different chapters.  Buddy Boo, the gentle bear, is always his first choice of character, whereas others I'm sure may be drawn to the more energetic and outgoing Eric the Raccoon.

One of the things that Gabriel likes, which reveals his humorous mind, is to let the characters wait and linger on the screen before selecting an answer, after which they will yawn and fall asleep, and Buddy Boo even dribbles!  Those extra little touches to the design and structure of the Land of Me tell us that the creators behind the game are equally humorous and imaginative, and have a true insight into the mind of a child.

The Land of Me blog shares with us a series of articles by Professor John Siraj-Blatchford, Research & Development Director at Made in Me.  The first in the series is The research behind The Land of Me – 1. Creativity and the importance of pretending

The article emphasises that To be creative is to associate or combine different things that have not been combined before for a particular end. It is often about recognising that there are choices, and then being playful enough to try them out.
The Land of Me gives a child freedom to be creative and make choices.  It provides the 'props' for the child to use and explore.  Made in Me have also taken the game a stage further by enabling the adult to engage the child deeper - with prompts to guide the discussion about the feelings, the outcomes and facts about what they are doing.  By developing the software to this level, Made in Me have been able to make the experience one of sharing:  Research has shown that in the home, and in pre-schools, children’s playful interactions with adults significantly support their development. The kind of interaction that has been identified as most effective in this respect is referred to as ‘sustained shared thinking’ where the adult engages with the child’s interests and understandings and the adult and children communicate meaningfully together to develop a shared outcome, idea, skill or understanding.

Gabe continuing his play of the Land of Me with the printable charcaters

The Land of Me has been an amazing game for us to discover with our own children.  To be able to have something digital and printable that is engaging and educational is really refreshing.  For us it has been the very first game we have shared with our children on the computer, the Land of Me is their first step into the digital world. It is so well developed, so educational and so magical too - the Land of Me and all the characters have become part of the family.  There's talk of a cuddly Buddy Boo being made, and I know that my son would love to make him a companion on his childhood adventures.  Playing, pretending, sharing and learning...and having a giggle together too. That's what it's all about!

There's more on the Land of Me blog about Parents as Partners with Learning

Discover the Land of Me here and be completely charmed by the characters and inspired by the play and learning it will provide you and your children.

For those of you who already have the Land of Me do pop along to their blog to find out more and get some tips from The Handbook too.

And, lastly, please do share with us your thoughts and discoveries as you play with the Land of Me.

This is part of our series of blogs where we share the story behind our collections; because the collections and their creators mean so much to us here at Sisters Guild we want to pass the story on.

We bring a new blog each day; other series of blogs include our 'Monday Makery' with ideas and 'how to's'  to make and bake with all the family, Wednesday we woo you with our favourite pieces from the boutique and its new arrivals, Thursday is all about the art of living; discovering places and sharing new treasures and Friday we bring you the 'A-Z of Sisters Guild' a collection of pictures that convey the life behind the boutique

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1 comment:

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