sâmbătă, 4 mai 2013


Play, toys and culture is an Erasmus Intensive Programme which promotes a multicultural teaching and learning about the use of play and traditional toys as pedagogical tools for 21st century European children.
The Intensive Programme took place in Fafe, Portugal and  there were five countries as participants: Romania, Portugal, Spain, Latvia and Turkey; 12 faculty and 25 students from preschool and primary educational majors. The IP lasted two great weeks. (April 14- April 27 2013)

For me it was an honour to be in Fafe to share my cultural experience with the participating countries. I also like to share with you this great experience.

On day one we met the other students and each country started to present its own traditional toys and games. Of course, we presented the first dolls made of wooden spoon and games like: Moara, Podul de piatra, Elasticul, Am pierdut o batistuta, Sa vina, sa vina la balon, Vanatori si rate. The most interesting part was that we demonstrated how to play the games.
Later there was a seminar presented by proffesor Tizuko Morchida Kishimoto who talked about the Theories of Play and the role of toys within childhood pedagogy. At the end of the day there was a welcoming party organized for us, with traditional food: fish, fish, fish... and octopus!

On the next days there were seminars presented by the faculty: Te role of play and toys in early childhood education (3 to 6 years), The role of play and toys with Reggio Emilia Approach, The role of play and toys with High Scope Curriculum, The importance of using drama techniques in preschool educational environments.

Play, toys and culture also included study visit to Portuguese Toy Museum which is situated  in the heart of Ponte de Lima. This is the first museum of Portuguese toys. The estate`s permanent unit has about 3500 items. Here you can find toys like: educational games (loto, cards, books), rag dolls, wooden carts, carousel horse, different objects made out of tin, etc.
Another study visit was to Toy Musem in Sintra. They have a great collection of 20.000 pieces. The toys exhibited in this museum are part of a private collection gathered during more than 50 years by Joao Arbues Moreira. The toys exhibited were representing the culture of the times before and after the First World War. That`s why there you can find a lot of toy soldiers for boys and a lot of dolls for girls (women role was to take care of children).

During those two weeks we had different group task, like debates and discussion over our main point of view on what we saw at the toy museums.
Our favourite task was the adaption and construction of two traditional toys/games as pedagogical tools for early childhood and elementary education.
Here you have pictures with the final product of each country!

One of our favourite parts was.... TRAVELLINGGGGGG! YAYY!
Yes, our host took care that we experience Portugal in the best way. They organized for us trips in different cities, like:
Ponte de Lima is a market town situated on the bank of  Lima River which is crossed by a Roman bridge. They have small and old streets with big and ancient buildings that date from 14th century. They also have a small main square where you can find great cafes.

Sintra is situated in Lisbon Region. Here you can find castles from 8th-9th century and some of them were built during 15th-19th century. For example, the Castelo dos Mouros, the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace. Sintra is the perfect city to keep in touch with history and Portuguese tradition in manner of clothes and goods.

Oporto (my favourite one!) is the second-largest city in Portugal (after Lisboa). It is located along the Douro river estuary and is famous for its wines export. Here you can have a chair lift to a panoramic view of the city or you can go by ferry boat to have a see sight of Oporto. Even walking on that old streets is amazing. When visiting Oporto it is a must to have a walk in the Old City Centre and in the new side of the city.
We had the chance to visit Cellars Port Wine which is a fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Demarcated Region and aged in cellars. And....... here is a secret: we sample the red and the white one. Our conclusion: GREAT WINES, PORTO!

Lisbon.... Portugal`s largest city and its capital is situated on the Atlantic coast. Just imagine an endless perfect blue! You might say: Hello Heaven!
We enjoyed visiting the Marques Pombal Square. In the middle of the square rises the splendid monument of Pombal, the man who was in charge of Lisbon`s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake.
Rossio Square is one of the most beautiful squares in Lisbon. In the middle of the square there is a statue of Dom Pedro IV and at its foot the four female figures representing Justice, Wisdom, Strenght and Moderation.
Paca do Comercio Square is represented by the statue of King Jose I. Here you can find symmetrical buildings filled with government bureaus that regulated customs and port activities.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is Lisbon`s symbol. It represents a Gothic and Renaissance architecture and is regarded as one of Lisbon`s finest landmarks. This is recognised as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.

Guimaraes city (located in the district of Braga), also known as ``the birthplace of portuguese nationality`` because it helped building the rest of the country, is more likely to our Romanian city Timisoara. Their city centre is full of historical buildings. I saw in Guimaraes for the first time in my life that you can wash your clothes in public and put them to dry on the grass. Very interesting!

Not to forget about our host city Fafe. Fafe is like one of our villages: small and where all the people are not declared strangers. It is a small and cleaned city with great buildings, a great university called Instituto deEstudos Superiores de Fafe, with a great park where you can see ducks and swans. Fafe has the most welcoming people who are always ready to smile and say ``Ola!``

The IP could not be finished without Fado Music (Portuguese traditional music) and a goodbye dinner.

My conclusions about this project:
During those two weeks I gained experience regarding how every nationality picture child`s image (for example, Turkish people consider the children as smalled grown ups, that`s why they will have the same clothes as adults, but in a different size). I had the chance to learn more about games and toys as pedagogical tools. It is important to give to the children a toy with an educational value. Parents should stop giving to their children any toy that can keep them busy. They should start choosing toys and games in a wise way, so they should choose the ones who can influence the children in a better way.
For me was important to find out about history of toys and I learned that a toy can ``speak`` about a culture, the way of people see things (for example, during World War II, Hitler introduced as a toy a horse that is being killed. He wanted to underline the idea of death in child`s life, to prepare him for the real life experiences).
An interesting topic that kept my attention was the apparition of Barbie doll (1950). This doll influenced girl`s way of life: from being just mothers they started to want to be a doctor or an astronaut. Barbie doll had a positive influence on how girls should take care of their body and how to eat healthier.
Comparing the toys from the past with the ones from the present, we can see that ``new technology`` toys are offering a false notion of reality. How is possible that all the girls want to be like Barbie? Skinny, blonde with blue eyes, always wearing make-up, with long legs and always on high heels. Or how the boys want to be robots and to save the world killing the enemy.
Toys influence children`s life.
Another thing that I learned during this IP was that community has a vital role in reflecting cultural values.

In the end all I can say is: ``Fafe, thank you for hosting us! It was a great experience and a great pleasure to be there. This is a lifetime memory``