The following discussion points were taken from a report made by the Education Funding Agency entitled ‘Schools for the future: designing school grounds’ published on the 11th March 2014 and updated in July 2015. The document contains information, guidance, ideas and inspiration to help design and improve school playgrounds. In this Blog we will look at the different areas and discuss how we at Playground Imagineering can help you achieve the best play provision possible in your own playground.
A space where children can be taught outdoors is a great provision to have. We can help design a space for classes big or small and to suit any budget. We try to make taking the classroom outdoors effortless. We do this by carefully considering the positioning of the products in relation to the existing classroom and also by making it a workable area with enough seating, space and in some cases storage so children can take care of their own equipment. Take a look at the Juliet Stage on our website as an example of our large class amphitheatre, or our Storytelling Area for smaller groups. There is also a great example of a Woodland Feel Outdoor Classroom in our natural play range. The seasons play a big part in being able to take the classroom outdoors. We have a range of waterproof Shelters and Outdoor Classrooms that can be installed onto the side of a building or be totally free standing. For the sunnier months, protection from the sun should be considered. To save money we could look at putting the outdoor classroom under some existing trees/foliage to create natural shade or alternatively a sail shade can be installed over new provisions. You can see an example of this on our Sail Shade page.
Having a space that has lots of natural resources can be a great way to bring the classroom outdoors by using the nature around you to demonstrate different topics such as seasonal change, habitats, micro-climates and topography. Different colours, textures, smells and sounds can also help develop the children that use it. And if your playground is a blank tarmac canvas, there are plenty of ways to bring in these natural elements. Whilst a big open space is great for activity, they are also a great way to provide quieter areas for more passive activities during play as well as bringing teaching outdoors. We have a range of Planters and Bug Hotels to help bring more nature to your playground. Take a look at our Natural Play Range to see how we can creatively bring the classroom outdoors in an open space. The use of water tables, sand tables and messy play areas are also great ways to bring EYFS learning outdoors with the option of moving the equipment around to suit the activity and class size. Take a look out our Sand, Water and Messy Play range for more information.
Access is a major factor in getting the classroom outdoors. We design our playgrounds to make it as easy as possible for a class to be transferred outside. The placement of the provision is key to its success and also how it works for the intended users. For example it is critical that EYFS has a free flow between inside and outside, so a Shelter attached to the building would be a great way to bridge the indoor and outdoor environments. It provides shelter and shade and can also be used as storage for other resources. For the primary and secondary school age range, a free standing shelter can serve multiple functions from a classroom to a hang out during different times of the day. As these children are older, access to equipment can be given in the form of Storage close to where activities are taking place, so they can take responsibility for their own resources. It is important that all children have access to resources within the school and provisions should be made for all ages and abilities.
PE is a lesson which epitomizes bringing the classroom outdoors. Most PE can be done outside come rain or shine and it is great to have a provision in place all year round. Not only being used for the lesson itself but can continue being used during playtime, encouraging active play. We have a wide range of sporting equipment for schools that can suit all budgets, ranging from a full Multi Use Games Area with goals, fencing, markings and surfaces to Target Panels and Basketball Hoops. A sporting facility can not only benefit PE classes and play time, but also the community. Having a facility that the community and outside organisations can use could open up a new revenue stream for the school by renting the facilities out. Equipment for other subjects can also be permanently installed to allow access both during lesson time and play time. Our Music Panels and Instruments can be a great way to bring the music lesson to life for all ages. Another great example is our Stages which can be used for both drama class and extra-curricular events such as paid shows which in turn raises extra money for the school.
Children learn through experimenting, taking risks, facing challenges and testing theirs (and sometimes those around them) limits and what better place to do this than in school. All of our playgrounds and products are designed with the user in mind, and the Fitness and Adventure Trail is the best place to demonstrate how. There are both low and high level products to test children’s agility, balance and co-ordination as well as general fitness. Not only does it challenge them physically but also mentally as they learn to work out the best way of going about doing something, how to share equipment with other users and how far they are comfortable going. Our trail is split into 3 main ranges; the mini trail for EYFS, the Fitness and Adventure Trail for 5 to 16 year olds and our new Fitness Stations which are designed to provide a bigger fitness challenge to KS2 and higher. Equipment should not restrict a child’s imagination, and to be cost effective should be versatile and adaptable. Our Large Timber Playhouse with Sliding Lid Sandbox not only provides a space for quieter activity, it also allows the user to use their imagination as well as providing a sand pit. Although safety is of the upmost importance to the school it is crucial that it does not restrict adventurous and creative play which is why we like to take the time to really understand the schools requirements and provide a design that has the right amount of investigation, risk and challenge.
All of our product range can be seen on our website along with a variety of our completed projects. An inspiration booklet with all of our most popular products is also available. If you would like to receive one, please get in touch and we will get one sent out to your school.
Our team are always happy to help, if you would like to book in for a free site visit and design or simply want to chat about what we can do for you, please fill in the call back request form on our website or call 01925 648959. Alternatively you can get in touch with our team via email, simply send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you.
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