Monday, May 6, 2013

Review + Giveaway: About Face: Every Child is an Artist

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” - Pablo Picasso

WHAT:  About Face by eeBoo
INVENTOR: Saxton Freymann 
DOES: children are given a uniquely-created opportunity to preserve the way they see things, their own unfettered, undisturbed, artistic viewpoints
INVEST:  $14.99 MSRP
AGES: suggested 5+ 
TOOLS: Express Yourself, Social Scene Helper, Foment Love of Language
EXPERT OPINION: Petra Pankow,  Manager of Tours and Gallery Interpretation, Montclair Art Museum and independent museum arts educator at various institutions (MoMA, Guggenheim)
GIVEAWAY:  Win your own About Face game and an autographed copy of Saxton Freymann's book, Food Play !

Last week, I declared to Number 1 Son that I would like a scooter for Mother's Day.  He then asked me, "Is there a 'Kid's Day'?"

It's unfortunate that they don't know this but my husband and I firmly believe that except for Mother's Day and Father's Day, the remaining 363 days of the year are Kid's Days.  I'm sure it's the same in your home too.   Still, I am glad when he asks me questions like that.  Not only does it make me burst out laughing but I find these questions to be evidence that he is still a kid and still unmarred by the dreadful customs of everyday adult life.

Perhaps it is why he continues to surprise me with his way of seeing things and About Face is a perfect medium with which I can get to know him more. About Face is all about making meaning out of what you see and hopefully sharing that meaning with someone else.

I love when we can just spread these out and just start picking cards.  It's so easy to be creative.

But how does one play with this "game?"  I don't even know if you can call it a game. It's just a bunch of cards with different images on them and when you put them together, they'll make a face.  That is all very nice and you made a funny face, so now what?

Need a hint on how to play?  Try a "contest."  See who can make the best "angry" face.  Mine is the one on the right.  Yeah, I lost that round.

I think that is the whole point.  That there is no point, at least for us big people.  The little people are different.  The little people see lots of things that you and I don't see.  They see faces on a tree. The clouds look like trees.  The puddle on the street looks like a fish.... etc.. Petra Pankow, who has taught me so much about the role of art in education told me this.  "There is a certain magic in this ability to make meaning in this way, that I think, as you grow older you might actually lose this."

Celebrate Childhood

As usual, Petra always makes a clean part in my cloudy thoughtspace when I talk to her.  I didn't realize how seeing a shadow that looked like a monster and seeing a face in a constellation of gum on the sidewalk was not only the same type of activity but also that it was a natural kid-thing to do. "I think it's a way of thinking about the world in terms that make sense for you at a certain age," she said, explaining that this was a natural developmental step for children. "I think what the toy does is it acknowledges that and almost celebrates that."  Petra told me.

I love the face he made here.  I think he called it, "heh?"  All of the cards fit perfectly into this box.  Clean up is a cinch.

"So for adults, it's much harder to kind of look at the world in a way that is magical," she continued.  And I think this is why I love About Face.  It's because whenever I play it with my son, he will share with me many pictures that incite the same reaction to his very fun question: "Is there a Kid's Day?"  Not that I dislike my son but gosh do I just fall for him all over again when he shows me a face and shares his thoughts with me. He is a kid who thinks in pictures and so I guess it would be smart of me to let him express himself with pictures. Thus, About Face is quite perfect for us.

Did you know it is Better Speech and Hearing Month?  Even though there are no words on these cards, you can't help but think that About Face will always bring forth conversations on sometimes hard-to-talk-about topics.

About Feelings

I think I shouldn't forget that at its core, About Face is about showing feelings on one's face.  Some kids are really good at reading faces.  Some kids are not.  But the great thing about About Face is that it is as animated as a human face but it still isn't human.  And thus, it's less personal, less in-your-face about the whole feelings thing which I think is great for just about everyone. 

Unlike "feelings cards," one of the best points of About Face is that the facial parts are interchangeable and so you can introduce how expression has its subtleties. My hope is that we can train our kids to look for the subtleties in everything, including the faces of the people we care about.  I also find that discussing this concept which can be touchy for some is great with a game like About Face because you don't have to face each other when talking about feelings.  Rather, you are facing the floor or desk together and you can move around the cards as you discuss different emotions and all of the subtleties involved. 

This time, I "won."  The feeling was: SURPRISED. (Mine: right)
But then he added leaves to the top and he said, "This makes him look more surprised." So happy to be outwitted.  But this is child's play and he is the expert.

The Magic in Everyday Things

If you have a child who is a very visual kid, I strongly urge you to try out this game.  I think it's such a wonderful way to expand vocabulary associated with feelings but more importantly, I'd love it if you could experience what I've experienced because we all need to hear questions like "Is there a Kid's Day?" We all need to stop and think like them once in a while. 

About Face's inventor, Saxton Freymann has shown that he, as Petra puts it, "has clearly preserved that ability to see the magic in everyday things."  That's what our children do as well and I'm so grateful that I can capture the magic in this little blue box that contains a vast spectrum of human emotions. What a gift! Speaking of gifts: It's Teacher Appreciation Week. Tomorrow is Teacher's Appreciation Day.  Big hugs to all the teachers out there.  We love ya!

My wish is to have a whole bunch of these boxes and spread out all the pieces all over the floor with a bunch of kids and ask them to find the face that matches their mood that day.  How fun would that be? 

How cool is this???   Enter to get this autographed just for you!!!

And now here's your chance to win your very own About Face and an autographed copy of Food Play by Saxton Freymann!  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!  And please try your best to answer the golden question- I will be so grateful:

What funny things do your kids say?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The two items were provided to Toys are Tools and the expert to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised.  The giveaway prize is being donated by the manufacturer.

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