We often expect children to play in specifically assigned “playground” areas, but this can be limiting to the quality of their play. Many schools and parks have great potential for play, and can explore and use what they have before investing in expensive redesigns.
For school grounds month, rediscover your school (or local park) through the eyes of your kids. Find a new space to play. Shake things up and move outside the box!
When exploring new spaces for play you can create a sense of enclosure that can be permeated by children. Mounding, planting, landscaping, seating, wood and rock are ideal to define space. As this Take Action is exploration and the space you choose may be temporary, you can have some fun with crafts to initially define your space. This will also help if your space is close to a street.
- Sketch a map of your school grounds or park. Produce a number of cut-out hearts that each child can pin to the map to indicate either their favourite spot to play, or an unusual area they would like to discover.
- As a group, decide where your next play day will take place. If you have a small collection of loose parts these can be used. Make sure, as with the previous Take Actions, the kids bring in a loose part they would like to play with on that day.
- Before the play day you can make a special colourful barrier that will indicate the boundaries of your new space. You can get crafty and creative with this. Use twine and colourful swatches of fabric tied to it at repeated intervals. You could also use building or site materials such as safety edge fencing found at hardware stores (it’s usually orange!). Collect strands of fabric or used plastic bags and weave them through the fencing. Rigid and impermeable enclosures such as fencing should generally be avoided within a play landscape, however this could be used in small lengths and define an area that shouldn’t be crossed (e.g.: if there is a nearby street).
- Before your play day, do a site inspection of the area. Look for and remove any potential hazards such as protruding nails or splintered wood.
- After the play day have a reflection and discuss the new space you played in. Did it offer any nooks and crannies or interesting social spaces? What did you like about it? What were the pros and cons of the space? Did it facilitate or inspire new play, actions or creations?