Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Playground Makeovers.

There is something very satisfying about seeing brand new playgrounds develop and become more of a reflection of the children who will use them or large playgrounds being made more 'intimate'. 
Sometimes when people do come to visit our space they are quite shocked by just how small it is, especially when they know we have several zones within the space e.g. the forest, mud kitchen, campfire, reading, covered area and slides. I would actually say that it is much easier to work with a smaller space than a large open area - that can seem very intimidating for staff as they try to make it more 'lived in'.
Our partner school moved into a brand new space and playground in September and immediately found it was too big and open and 'new'! When we would visit with the class of 28 children the space was fine but as they normally have just 12 children in this space normally, they tended to be lost in such a space. 
We love having a partnership with a special school and always find that everyone benefits from this - staff, parents and children but sometimes we can underestimate how much there school can gain from having us as partners. Their staff enjoyed visiting our established playground and seeing how their children interacted with the various challenges on offer - tree stumps, tyres, crates, logs and they were bowled over by the mud kitchen.

So today 7 months after we first visited their new space, we had so much fun exploring all the changes they had incorporated in the last few weeks - the space has just become much more interesting by just adding some camouflage netting, saucepans, tyres and a mud kitchen. I can't wait to see how this space evolves in the next 7 months.

Earlier in the week I had also had the opportunity to revisit a colleague in her nursery school almost 2 years after I first visited. Her playground is huge - one may early years practitioners would love to have but it was very open and as usual with any big space the children tended to run about. 
Well, fast forward a few years later and again I was amazed at the transformation - they have been able to fence off a woodland area WITHIN, yes within the playground! 

This is only one side of the new woodland area!
Now it will take a while for it to be an established wooded area but I know from our experience with Bear Woods, even a 2 foot tree is a tree in the eyes of a 3 or 4 year old child. 

They also had the cutest mud kitchen area under the canopy of lovely mature trees. This gorgeous little space shows you don't need to spend a fortune on a mud kitchen, as long the children have somewhere to mix up their 'cooking' they will be happy. 
Again, I can't wait to revisit this space in another couple of years to see how it has developed.

I suppose the purpose of this post is to help anyone who feels their space is uninspiring or thinks they can't achieve anything without lots of money or an established forest area - take a fresh look at your space and any piece of land not being used all the time and dream big!

Thanks to Julie, Susan and Julia for being so hospitable and for having the vision to 'go for it'!

4 comments:

  1. What a beautiful new area.

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  2. Looking forward to developing the play next term. And adding some more mature trees and our new firepit area! It may be within our playground but you feel a world away when up in 'the wee wood'!

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  3. I love it...
    I am working on my space now, and have found so much inspiration.

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  4. you just nailed it with this art work. i always enjoy watching these kinds of post. and your post arise at the right time. very impress with your thinking and ideas.

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