Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Inside the Lines"

This poem was written outside the prompt calls, inspired by a remark from [personal profile] gingicat. It also fills the "primary colors" square in my 9-1-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo  fest.  It has been sponsored by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer.  This poem belongs to the Dr. Infanta thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"Inside the Lines"


Every playground has a section of pavement
with patterns marked for sidewalk games.

There are hopscotch boards and foursquares,
basketball courts and shuffleboards.
There are honeycombs and square grids,
ladders and labyrinths and mazes.

Ansel loves sports.
He's always the first to head
for the painted courts or the targets
for bouncing balls inside the lines.

There are educational designs too:
alphabet zoos, number trains, fossil outlines,
maps of America or the whole world, and
timelines that wrap around the perimeter.

Variel is bilingual and
enjoys exploring new languages.
She likes to write the names and numbers
of things with colorful sidewalk chalk
in as many languages as she can remember.

Then there are other designs,
and people call them by different names --
uniquities, doodles, serendipities, parquets,
geometric art, playground prompts, and more.

They are collections of lines and shapes
laid down without meaning, based only
on the artist's inspiration, there for
children to interpret as they will.

It is a way to encourage creativity,
as the kids add rules and ropes,
cones, balls, beanbags, and giant dice,
inventing games of their own design
to play with their friends.

Each playground naturally evolves
its own original games to suit
whatever patterns it has on the pavement.

When the children travel,
they take with them games they recall
and reproduce with the sidewalk chalk
that most playgrounds keep on hand,
teaching their favorites to new friends
and learning the local ones in return.

Erion cares about fairness.
He likes making up rules inspired
by shapes and lines and colors on the ground.
He's good at designing games that
lots of people have fun playing.

There are always artists in need of work
and plenty of money in arts and education
to sponsor new playground paintings.
It's one of the things that has come out of
Granny Whammy's encouragement of public works.

Wherever she goes, Alicia always tries
to visit a local playground and learn its games.
She keeps them in a scrapbook with photos
of the patterns in their bright primary colors
and descriptions of the rules to play.
There used to be so few games that
everyone knew them all, but now
she needs a book to keep track.

Sometimes, Alicia loves the future.

* * *


In Terramagne, the high art and educational budgets combine for a unique effect.  Playground designers routinely hire an artist to paint patterns on the pavement.  Customarily these include at least one traditional pattern (such as hopscotch) and one that is original.  Children then invent rules to play games over the original patterns.  So each playground evolves its own unique games in addition to the ubiquitous ones.  When they travel, children use sidewalk chalk to reproduce the patterns they know, and trade games with the locals.  This encourages creativity.  Playgrounds often keep a supply of sidewalk chalk available for this purpose.

Some examples of playground paint appear in our world, but they are haphazard and rare compared to Terramagne.  Our naked pavement would be as weird to them as those occasional barren "playgrounds" we see with no equipment in them.  "That's not a playground!  Playgrounds have things to play with!"  Traditional gameboards include things like hopscotch and checkerboards, targets and tic-tac-toe.  There are companies that sell stencils for games , and this one has some painting instructions. Some communities have stencils that can be borrowed.  Here are some general tips on how to decorate playgrounds and paint asphalt games.  This is a big collection of patterns and rules for playground games.

Check out some bilingual English/Spanish games.

Geometric prompts may be used to inspire art or play, like these angled ones.  Any basic geometic shapes can work, whether stacked single shapes, scattered single shapes, or multi-shaped designs. Also consider mandalas, knotworks, mazes, labyrinths, tesselations, or random lines.  Here's an easy way to make simple geometric art with tape. This shows a more varied approach for using tape to make geometric wall paintings.  Explore some geometry for artists.

Playground toys may include nets, ropes, cones, markers, balls, beanbags, giant dice, or play sets.  Terramagne playgrounds often have such equipment either for rent or free use.

Game design is about making good entertainment based on fundamental elementsprinciples, and atmospheric pressures.  Here's a whole chapter on game design, and some instructions on how to invent a game.  Students may invent games as a class lesson.  In Terramagne, children who are good at making playable games on the fly tend to become popular.

Sidewalk chalk is just big hunks of colored chalk for drawing on the pavement, although some playgrounds have chalkboards.  You can get a big bucket of just a few colors for general use, or many subtle colors for artistic murals.  You can even make your own chalk in cylinders or other fun shapes.  Also in Terramagne there is none of this nonsense about arresting people for chalking the pavement.  Anything that will wash away in the rain is not vandalism.  When you've got supervillains wrecking stuff by the blockful, you learn not to sweat the petty stuff.

Browse some classic playground games and traditional children's games.  These belong to children's folklore.

Tags: art, cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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