Central Pedagogic Ideas
Children are curious and always eager for knowledge. They are continuously learning. However, every child is different and has his/her own way of learning, distinct learning rhythms and preferences regarding the access to knowledge and the learning process. For pedagogues, this implies the challenge of creating open learning environments. It makes sense to combine both cognitive and affective-emotional learning, and above all to encourage a learning process that is co-directed by children.
The rules of the Play City Mini-Munich have been developed by pedagogues and the city has been aesthetically arranged by adults, but it is the children who determine and create the dynamics of their Play City life in a self-determined way.
The Play City Mini-Munich is a small model of the big city, the latter providing the ideas and themes of the game: Work and study, politics, administration, culture and participation in public life. The aesthetically constructed parallel world of the Play City allows children to learn about living together in the city and, in the broadest sense, about social life. This takes place on trial-and-error basis within the play, but children assume roles and functions that they take very seriously.
The Play City Project
Mini-Munich – A 36-Year Success Story
The story of the Play City began over 36 years ago in a gym in the Olympic Park of Munich. The “Year of the Child” in 1979 provided the occasion for it and the children gave it its name: “Play City Mini-Munich”. It was only due to special funds by the city for the “International Youth Year” that the project could be realized again and afterwards it was the mobilization of children themselves that secured the continuous funding of the Play City. The then-mayor and councillors of Mini-Munich convinced their colleagues at the town hall of the big city to support the project, and ever since, Mini-Munich has been taking place every two years, with financial support from the municipality of Munich.
On average, 28 000 children and teenagers visit the Play City each time, accompanied by approx. 3000 adult visitors and guests. The Play City idea has now been copied worldwide, with similar projects existing all over the German-language area, but also in other European countries and in Asia. In Japan alone, there are around 40 temporary Play Cities for children.
Mini-Munich – The Small City within the Big Town
The central theme of Mini-Munich is that of city-life: how does life in a city work, how are the administration, local politics and the cycles of work, money and consumption organized? The Play City in parts reflects everyday life in a big city, and hence renders these experiences accessible to children. This is true for both the city’s structural elements and its spatial arrangements – the reality of the big city thus becomes connected to the world created by the imagination of children and vice versa. The bridging of these two distinct realities makes the pedagogic approach of Mini-Munich unique, and allows for an open learning environment, combining the acquisition of knowledge with fascination and fun.
Institutions of the Play City
Citizen registry, employment office and bank, crafts centre and workshops, department store and market, town hall and city administration, newspaper, TV studios, radio station, university and research laboratory, art academy and theatre, restaurant and parents café, environment office and waste management department, garden centre and tree nursery, urban planning office and housing construction, advertising agency and print shop, library, cinema, medical clinic, fairground, circus, sports area, embassies, museum …and many more.
The children take on the various professional roles in the different institutions and at the same time they manage their own everyday transactions: they are in charge of allocating employment, paying salaries, managing purchases and sales and setting prices. In addition, they establish contact between the different institutions, ensure their smooth collaboration and become engaged in public life in the city as citizens in numerous ways.
Mini-Munich – City of the Children
Children are the protagonists and doers in their city. Due to the existence of simple rules, the game can begin immediately and without lengthy explanations. More than 800 work places are available to the children. The play money that children earn can be saved or spent at the department store, restaurant, cinema or theatre, after taxes have been deducted by the municipality. Over 500 university places are on offer every day and studying is remunerated in the same way as working. Children and adults can become professors in Mini Munich’s university and can share their knowledge with eager students.
Those who have both worked and studied for four hours can become full citizens of the play city. Full citizenship is a precondition for voting and for running for office, for instance as mayor or city councilor. Full citizens can also start their own businesses, can buy land and property and can build their own houses.
The basic game with its simple rules has only seen very few changes in the last 30 years – the internal dynamics and relationships between the different institutions, however, are constantly evolving and are being altered by the participating children.
Events in Mini-Munich
The cultural life of the Play City is rich and cultural events are either created by the children themselves or come from the big city: concerts, dance and theatre performances, lectures, elections and court days, cinema premieres, fashion shows, city marathon, Olympic games, exhibition launches, market days, opening ceremonies, public readings, visits by local politicians, famous actors, press and delegations from other play cities and other countries occur on an almost daily basis.
Mini-Munich International – a Window to the World
The addendum “International” takes account of the fact that Mini-Munich is home to children from many different nationalities who are all welcome as citizens of the Play City. Special events and institutions encourage the encounter and exchange between children from different parts of the world. Exhibitions such as “the Life of Children in Favelas” or “Toys from across the world”, as well as temporary institutions like the Japanese Tea House, spark the curiosity of children for different cultures and become an important part of Play City life. A translation office and “International House” in the play city makes sure the city is accessible to children with different mother tongues and welcomes visitors from other countries. In addition, Mini-Munich hosts a foreign embassy, and every week, a children’s delegation from another play city comes to visit Munich. Diplomatic delegations from Japan, India, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and many other countries have opened up their embassies in Mini-Munich in recent years and have presented their play cities and countries through thematic days in the restaurant, visa tests for Mini-Munich’s citizens, exhibitions and – most importantly – daily, shared experiences with other children as participants of the play city. Also the adult staff of Mini-Munich is very diverse and artists and pedagogues from Spain, Egypt and Czech Republic will be part of the play city in 2018.
Mini-Munich – Dates & Facts
Mini-Munich takes place every two years. Mini-Munich is the largest municipal holiday programme of the City of Munich and is visited by up to 2000 children every day.
Most of the children come from Munich and Greater Munich area, but many also come from further away, either other parts of Germany or neighbouring countries. In many cases, these children choose to spend their holidays with friends or relatives in Munich, specifically because they want to attend Mini-Munich.
Mini-Munich opens daily from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm, except on Saturdays and Sundays. Entry and participation is free of charge and children can come without prior registration or booking. Every child is free to participate for as long and as often as he or she wishes to. Accompanied groups of children and teenagers, visiting from other holiday activity programmes, have to register and book prior to arrival.
During their first visit to the play city, all children receive an identity card, which contains all important information and the basic rules of the game. Parents and adults are welcome as visitors, but are not allowed to interfere with the activities in the city. Almost all areas of the Play City are barrier-free. There are approx. 140 adult staff members in Mini-Munich: pedagogues, artists, professional experts from different fields, among them many former Play City participants. Young volunteers (from 16 years of age) can participate and support the Play City on a weekly basis.
Mini-Munich costs about 225 000 Euros. Approximately half of the funding is provided by the municipality, and the other half is provided by private supporters and sponsors. In addition, the children’s revenues at the parents’ café in Mini Munich also contribute to the funding of the Play City.
Information about the organizer Kultur & Spielraum e.V.
The association Kultur & Spielraum has conceptualized and organized cultural-pedagogic projects for children and youth since 1970. It has acquired the name Kultur & Spielraum in 1989, having the status of a recognized non-profit organization that carries out educational activities on behalf of the Municipal Youth Welfare Office of the City of Munich.
Kultur & Spielraum’s main activity is non-school, open education work with children and youth. On behalf of the City of Munich, Kultur & Spielraum e.V. runs two cultural education spaces for children and youth in the city’s community centers. As Kulturpädagogischer Dienst (Culture-pedagogic Service), the association organizes events and offers a multifaceted programme on a temporary basis in different locations all over the city of Munich. In addition, Kultur & Spielraum is responsible for the implementation of central and decentralized forums for children and teenagers at the town hall and in the different districts of the city. It has a coordinating function for the Verbund der Münchner Jugendkunstschulen (Association of Munich Art Schools for Teenagers) and for the Kinder-Kultur-Sommer (Children’s Summer of Culture) and is actively involved in the development and conceptualization of cultural and political education across the whole city. Kultur & Spielraum also organizes arts education projects for children in transnational contexts as well as for private clients. Apart from offering an extensive educational program, the association also maintains a small publishing house for didactic materials and pedagogic publications.
19th Play Town Mini-Munich International 2018
Kultur & Spielraum e.V. München
Gerd Grüneisl, Albert Kapfhammer, Margit Maschek, Hans-Jörg Polster, Marion Schäfer (Project Management)
Dagmar Baginski (PR)
Ursulastraße 5, D-80802 München,
Office hours: Mon-Thu 9.30 am – 5.00 pm, Fri 9.30 am – 1 pm
phone ++49 (0)89 34 16 76, fax ++49 (0)89 34 16 77