Tuesday, July 06, 2010

But Other Than That . . .


I recently mentioned that we don't provide a ton of "traditional" outdoor activities at Woodland Park. Instead of slides and monkey bars, we have a work bench, a garden, a sand pit (okay, that's traditional), a fine motor play area we call Little World, art projects, a boat, a cast iron water pump, but nothing along the lines of what you typically find in your neighborhood playground. This was a choice we made earlier this year when our community decided it wanted to revamp our small outside space, converting it from lameness into a true outdoor classroom. We declared that our school couldn't be all things to all people and that outdoor large motor activities like swinging, climbing, and teeter tottering would just have to take place outside of school hours at any one of our city's fine playgrounds.

The only piece of equipment we kept was our unicycle merry-go-round (foreground of photo), and that was because children tended to use it with joy every single day. Plus it's a pretty unique item, something they're not likely to find elsewhere.

I love they way they pedal while looking across at one another, 
smiling into one another's faces. I particularly like the way 2's 
use it as entry level cooperative play -- it just doesn't go unless you work together.

Still, I occasionally worry about what we're missing, although we do have things to balance on, like our path of tree rounds . . .


. . . and have started setting up odd ball challenges like this:


And, of course, we did invent a swing by looping together vinyl belts . . .


. . . and we made a zip line from a pulley on a rope . . .


. . . and I guess we do have a couple "climbers" that allows us to get up to get where we need to go to use our hammers or paint brushes . . .


. . . and a teeter totter . . .



But other than that . . .


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6 comments:

Wendi said...

And that's the true gift of imagination.:o) You can use what you've got to do what you want.

BTW, LOVE LOVE LOVE the cookie tree. I know that my kiddos would love playing with something like that. I think I'm going to add that to my list of 'have to make'. Thank you. Stellar idea.

Juliet Robertson said...

Hey Tom

A couple of thoughts

1) You forgot to mention the costs of improving your outdoor space. I bet it was a whole lot cheaper than wetpour safety surface and fixed climbing equipment.

2) Everytime your children go outside they are having an experience that is unlikely to be replicated indoors.

3) Every time your children play outside, with all those loose parts you are encouraging much higher levels of creativity and imagination. Every day the experience will be different, requiring observations, discussions and changes to happen. For example, the belts get longer and eventually break. That doesn't happen with shop bought outdoor play equipment.

I hope you keep an eye on your children and see what becomes of them as adults. It will be interesting to see...

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

I really wish I could come and see it in person. The kids look like they are loving it!

Sherry and Donna said...

Sound like fun to me Tom! We have a lot of outdoor equipment but children don't need or ask for much. Kids just want to have fun!
Donna :) :)

Mrs Addams said...

yes, you are right. even though it doesn't look like your typical playground it still is a play ground. one more interesting, complicated, changable, personal than any you will find around town.

SquiggleMum said...

Tom, those kids are missing out on - nothing! You are providing them with everything they need out there :-)

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