A unique map-game ‘Vilnius for Kids’ invites to collect city’s experience

On the International Children’s Day, the City of Vilnius presented, for the first time, a unique city map ‘Vilnius for Kids’. The new entertainment invites the little ones to have fun with the family in exploring the city while following a certain route and thus becoming true experts of the Old Town.

Since the 1st of June, Vilnius Tourist Information Centres have been distributing free maps with the tourist route specially designed for children, with 15 unconventional sightseeing spots that are hardly known to adults let alone children, e.g. the sculpture of elephants with a chessboard on the back, the 1931 flood mark on the wall of the library, a hundred-years-old teddy-bear figure on the shop’s facade, and other interesting things. The tasks will help reveal the creativity in children, while opening new important facts about the history of the city in a playful way.

‘I invite every child to help us rebuild Vilnius and its greatness. Vilnius needs to grow and its unfinished projects must be completed so that there are no ruins or neglected sites around us. It takes all of us, including the small children. I am convinced that this map will help children to discover the multilayer Vilnius, know it and love it and then help rebuild its greatness’, says Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius.

The map invites you to look at the Old Town in your own way and see interesting spots for children that have escaped unnoticed until now. Vilnius for Kids turns the city into an interactive game board inspiring efforts to contribute to the creation of the history of the city. The history of the city is easier to remember through different tasks. The project offers an unusual way to build personal experience for children and parents or grandparents through their own interpretation and understanding of the meaning of the objects or sites they visit. The map is intended mostly for kids aged 7-10 but it fits as well all the ages.

The map is unique in the way that it offers different tasks that help to reveal the creativity in children. There are three types of the tasks that invite us to discover the basic information about a tourists sight, look for details, answer the related questions and to employ our imagination – e.g. what would one or another sculpture say if it were to come back to life? What could be its name? What colours were a 100 years ago? Who would be our King nowadays?

Our map seeks to make the city closer to the children through the stories told by the sculptures, buildings or bridges. Among other things, the map seeks to promote common human values. St Christopher that carries the burden of the whole world makes you think of the troubles existing all across the world. In this game, the Old Town turns into a space for learning not only the cultural aspects of the city but also perceiving different values cherished throughout the history, ‘says Viktorija Bružaitė-Kazlauskienė, manager of the project Gatvės gyvos vaikams (Streets Alive for Kids)

The map makers have taken account of the perception of the space and rhythm in children. The distance between the sights is manageable for the children to keep their attention and be able to choose the route on their own.

‘The main challenge was to make the playful map a functional attraction. Children need to be motivated, that is why the playfulness aspect has been relied on. We have applied the principles of experience design by developing an area from the point of view of a child, also by developing prototypes helping us to pinpoint what works best, aiming to create a child tool for knowing and interpreting the city ’, says Ignas Kozlov, the creative director of the design agency FOLK, – how to create a child’s tool for knowing and interpreting the city.

The City of Vilnius hopes that Vilnius for Kids will soon become the most popular attraction for the local families with children and the visitors alike. What is good about it is that the little ones will share their experience with the others and turn into the city guides themselves. Those who have successfully completed the route will be awarded by the Tourist Information Centre with an achievement sticker: the Senior Expert Certificate.

The authors of the map content are Gatvės gyvos vaikams (Streets Alive for Kids), they rely on experience-based education in their work. Creative Solutions – Design Agency FOLK. The map illustrations were created by Indrė Vaiciukaitė.

The maps are already available at the Tourist Information Centres (TICs).