Good play values in the schoolyard
The body is a child’s tool for feeling the world. Is the surface hot or cold? Or perhaps hard or soft?
When a child moves through an obstacle course or stands in line at the zip line, are they able to wait until it’s their turn?
When designing and building a playground, the landscape and local architecture is important to consider, but the target group and play values are at least as important. We strive to add as many play values as possible to your outdoor space.
Play values in the schoolyard
The obstacle course is one of several types of playground equipment that is a brilliant addition to the schoolyard. Both preschoolers and primary schoolers enjoy the balancing challenge, which stimulates the vestibular and proprioceptive senses as well as cross-coordination. As with climbing and swinging, balancing also helps improve a child’s fitness.
Swinging gives children a sense for rhythm and timing and helps fine-tune their balancing ability. Swinging is particularly a favourite playtime activity in preschool and creates an exhilarating feeling of freedom.
Carousels and swings (that spin) also support vestibular development.
Especially during the preschool years, tunnels and other similarly ‘closed’ types of playground equipment are a lot of fun, creating pportunities to play hide-and-seek and pretend games. These types of playground equipment help develop spatial awareness (proprioception).
Up and over:
Some children love heights, while others are afraid of them. The schoolyard is a safe environment where children can gradually learn to lose their trepidation of heights.
Towers, mountains and climbing nets, as well as level jumps in terrain, are play tools and environmental elements that can be used to strengthen the proprioceptive sense (spatial awareness).
An inclination of just 30 to 40 degrees is enough to create the desired movement.
Climbing to the top can be daunting, making a child feel their own limits. What is required of an environment for a child to overcome a sense of fear?
This play value also teaches the child about dealing with risk.
Having a place to hang out is important for children in the later school years.
It’s a place to socialise, do homework or simply relax. Outdoor furniture is important for this group of pupils.
The outdoor furniture can also be used by teachers to move the lesson outside.
See-sawing can entail sitting or standing and two or more people.
See-saws are especially used in the early school years, teaching children about force and dynamics and improving their muscle strength, i.e. kinesthetic sense (muscle/joint awareness). If I push my feet against the ground really hard, what happens on the other end? School see-saws are often intended for several users (as opposed to see-saws in day-care institutions) and are thereby a social play tool that requires good collaboration skills.
Children find speed exciting, and it also tickles the stomach. The movement is most often forced in that once you start, the game cannot be stopped; the child has to keep sliding downwards. Does it feel dangerous or fun? Some children become emboldened and want to try sliding in other ways.
Jumping is fun for children in the preschool and school years. Jumping on a trampoline for example strengthens the sensory motor skills through repetitive movements that eventually ‘stick’ just like learning and knowing how to ride a bicycle. This play tool offers an opportunity to practice safe movement and body control, which results in higher self-esteem and self-confidence.
When a child climbs, they are strengthening cross-coordination and the connection between their brain hemispheres. This provides a boost to the child’s reading readiness.
The tactile sense is triggered when touching objects, such as feeling sand with your hands. Or smelling flowers on a spring day; this sense is for the youngest children, e.g. kindergarteners, or particularly sensitive children.