Urban Thinkscape brings the benefits of playful learning, which combines the enjoyable nature of play with a learning goal, to a community, public setting of a bus stop. Benches now include puzzles with movable parts that stimulate spatial skills and become opportunities for exploring language, color, and numbers while on-site signage and this website connect families to additional information and resources about the links between play and learning.
Instead of viewing streets and bus stops merely as conduits from point A to B, Urban Thinkscape creates connections between these shared everyday spaces and the people who occupy them.
The Learning Goal
Urban Thinkscape encourages playful interactions between children and caregivers that feature Content in and math, science, and literacy, as well as Collaboration and Communication with peers, adults, and family members.
Urban Thinkscape began with a community’s dream to energize Philadelphia’s Belmont neighborhood with playful learning. They chose a bus stop next to a grassy lot where Martin Luther King Jr. gave a historic speech in 1965 as part of his “Freedom Now” tour. Puzzles appeared behind bus stop benches, kids can now scramble and climb across story art, and a canopy projects shadows of fruits and vegetables onto an interactive mural of Martin Luther King Jr., all brought to life by over 100 local youth and community members!
Urban Thinkscape is a partnership between the Temple Infant and Child Lab, Drs. Roberta Golinkoff and Brenna Hassinger-Das, and architect Itai Palti of the Conscious Cities movement. Public Workshop and the Belmont Alliance Civic Association were also vital collaborators.
The project is supported by the William Penn Foundation and KaBOOM! Play Everywhere.
Preliminary results suggest that families at the bus stop are now interacting around the games while talking about numbers and shapes. They are moving, thinking, and talking about language, literacy, and STEM.