Monday, March 02, 2015

Our Pallet Swing

At some point during the December holiday break I read reference to something called a "pallet swing." 

There were no pictures or descriptions, but the idea for creating one was planted in those two words. 

I'm calling our pallet the "sharing swing" because unlike conventional swings there's room for several kids at a time.

We had just acquired a fresh new heat treated pallet and rope is plentiful around our place, so I rigged one up.

The children have been experimenting on how to use their bodies to get the pallet swing in motion.

A couple of the kids have really figured it out!

Yes, we still have swings at Woodland Park, a nice set -- two traditional single seats and a trapeze bar -- that came with the new place when we moved in three and half years ago. 

It's even more challenging when you need to work with two or three of your friends, in unison, to get the swing moving .

It's really a pity that so many playgrounds and schools are removing swings in the name of "safety." 

If everyone stands and cooperates, we've found we can get up to six kids on the swing at once.

Having lived with swings on an often crowded space for awhile, I've seen a few kids get knocked down, or topple from their seat, but we, as a community, have not judged them to be overly hazardous except, perhaps, when an adult is pushing a child higher than she would otherwise be able to go on her own. Adult pushing is something I discourage, preferring instead to see children pushing one another.

When you don't want to stand, the only way to get moving is to persuade a friend to help.

The pallet swing isn't the first alternative swing we've dangled from the crossbar. We've hung tire swings, rope swings, rope ladder swings, teeter swings, long swings and other temporary installations

This has become the most popular use of the pallet swing: twisting it up, climbing on, and letting it go.

It's important to hold on!

With each new thing, we've observed the same pattern of children cautiously exploring, alone and together, until they figure out what it and they can do, learning how to keep themselves safe by actually practicing safety.

For this "world record" attempt, adult help was solicited.

She decided she felt safer sitting down.


This is infinitely more effective than the societal norm of adults scolding, repeatedly, "be careful," or worse, simply removing the swing set. No one learns anything from that.

I don't call any of this "risky play." I call it "safety play," because that's what they're doing: learning to keep themselves and their friends safe, while having a grand time.

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Anonymous said...

You are the best!!!!

MissFifi said...

That is very cool. I always say "be careful", but it doesn't mean I prevent my son from climbing up the big twisty slide :)
I am amazed swings are being removed. Is there nothing someone won't sue over?

Unknown said...

Fantastic! I can't think of a better metaphor for learning about life than the one this story describes.