Design For + By Kids
Small Worlds + Hands-on Learning
Kids love small worlds that are designed just for them or that they had a hand in creating. Kids everywhere chalk streets on sidewalks and build cities out of blocks and boxes. We make the most of those two passions to involve kids in experiential learning, that is learning through their own experiences. Whether riding a bike in a traffic garden or gluing street parts to base drawings, we believe in gentle and thoughtful adult guidance that leads children to realizations and encourages them to take off independently. From our travels and interviews, we know that the traffic garden experience makes a lifetime impression. Countless grown-ups have recounted their memories of a childhood safety town or traffic park visit. We believe that the lessons embedded in that experience stick and become deep part of developing understanding about how streets operate and how to use them.
But here at Traffic Garden HQ, we believe that traffic gardens provide an amazing opportunity for children to develop an deeper understanding of built world. We want to help kids grow up understanding that it is a designed world that can be improved and that they have a role in better safer infrastructure. What better way to learn about the built world than to help create it and these small street networks provide a unique opportunity to add easy design lessons about big ideas. At every opportunity, Discover Traffic Gardens engages children in the traffic garden design process and creates real-life projects from their work. We emphasize hands-on engagement by hosting collaborative design sessions, where children learn about the principles of traffic garden design, draft their own layouts, and test their ideas on a model site. They submit their design proposals to our "City Hall", as a means of understanding the civic engagement process. We work with public officials to deploy the children's ideas to inform the layout of a real traffic garden. Our dream projects are where those children are later invited to attend a ribbon-cutting for a traffic garden they personally helped design and where they then get to ride their bikes on the streets with their pals and classmates. After years of bringing kids through this experience, we know that they are deeply proud and engaged.
Why do traffic gardens work so well to convey the big design ideas? Kids are able to better understand and retain new information conveyed to them through interactive learning. As it is a closed network with a simplified version of the streets and because to relate to it's purpose, kids readily grasp the ideas and challenges. As traffic gardens are tactile and three-dimensional, co-designing them is an effective means of developing the spatial skills children need to become their community's future engineers and planners! But this type of learning is not just intended for kids who are interested in pursing a STEAM career benefit: streets are for everyone and that is core message that is embedded in every lesson. Having a whole cohort of children with increased understanding of their built world, making them smarter and safer users of the streets now and safe streets advocates of the future.
Discover Traffic Gardens is for and about people of all ages, abilities, mobilities, and backgrounds. Everyone deserves to have a voice in the creation and design of their community, and access to information that increases the safety and utility of public spaces. We seek especially to engage those who have been historically disenfranchised from their community and to teach the next generation how to have a voice in their built world.
Joy and Expression
Discover Traffic Gardens invites kids to express their thoughts and ideas, and celebrate their creativity. We view the world through the lens of possibility; using recycled materials and found objects to create our design models, and encourage the use of bright colors and unique materials. Kids learn when they're having fun!