Dubbed by the National Science Foundation as “A radical new form of scientific outreach,” the Ultimate Block Party (UBP) engages the community in a hands-on, interactive celebration that brings the arts and sciences of learning to life. Our plan was simple – channel the “block parties” of the past where families came together to share knowledge, excitement and experiences. In this case, we hoped to bring together the scientific community of researchers studying learning, the professional community of educators, social workers, and librarians, non-profit organizations invested in children such as museums and early learning service providers, and corporations that provide products for children, and families. And we sought to bring them together in public spaces and in a way that presented experiences that would inform attitudes about and behaviors in literacy, math, science and learning!
The Ultimate Block Party brings families, children and educators together to experience first-hand, how play and learning are complementary. Playful learning advances children’s social and academic achievement in ways that enables them to build the skills needed for 21st Century success. From dress-up to stacking blocks and creating art, cognitive research suggests that exploration and discovery experiences foster language and early literacy in children from diverse backgrounds. The learning and experiences introduced at the Block Party continue at home and in school through an interactive website. Successful Block Parties have been held in Central Park, New York, Toronto and Baltimore, and more and more cities are asking for the opportunity to hold a Block Party of their own.
“We’ve been to block parties before, but we’d never seen anything like the Ultimate Block Party.” AOL ParentDish
“The event is likely to catalyze a new round of discussions and debate about children’s playtime at home, playful learning in school, and how American childhood is changing. These are incredibly important conversations.” New America Foundation’s Early Ed Watch
“A day for serious play” New York Magazine
“[This group] wants to remind kids and parents that play is a big part of kids’ lives and kids should be playing and being creative and having fun.” Time Out New York Kids’ Rory Halperin on WCBS
“Creative kid fest” DailyCandy
“…the Ultimate Block Party was designed to help families experience firsthand just how important play is in helping kids learn. More than 30 interactive activities took place throughout the day, all geared toward teaching kids the ‘6Cs’ they’ll need for success in the 21st century: Collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence.” AOL ParentDish
“Critics’ pick. This new event, expected to be an annual occurrence, is all about promoting play – something every kid can get behind.”
Time Out New York Kids
“It’s the kind of event that will make you want to be a kid again!” Time Out New York Kids Weekly Newsletter
“Simon says go to Central Park” The New York Times
“A truly wonderful day of joy for children and families -- engagment, wonder and learning all in one! Can't wait for Baltimore's next one!” Bryn Parchman, President and CEO, Port Discovery Children's Museum