Wednesday, 29 October 2014

reflecting on play...

This week we have taken a whole new approach to what we do... instead of our usual week we have chosen to do 4 new parks in four days (its week 44 and its also autumn break in schools).

The children have been reflecting on the parks on our way back to the preschool... how many points out of 10 and why...

Today as we were watching the children play I was wondering whether the children would rate the playspace in the same sort of way that we as observing adults would rate it based on their play...
As what I was seeing today was not the same engagement in their play, even though their initial enthusiasm was huge when they saw the bright orange mound, trampolines and rope nets (where they later played spider).
this was the first playspace in Stockholm to use the rubber matting... it was very exciting when it first came as a new play surface... although I am not so keen on it in winter as i find it insulates from the heat of the ground and takes the snow and ice longer to melt.

Once the initial buzz was over I saw that many of the children struggled to find something to do... not a problem in the previous two parks...
There were some bikes available but not nearly enough for the sheer number of children in this playspace... many of my children hung around waiting for a bike and found themselves unable to play as they were consumed with the wait... in the park on Monday where there were bikes too, there were a few more bikes, but there were also a selection of small houses and small animal climbing statues that busied the children, so waiting for a bike was never an issue, in fact they often forgot about a bike... there was also an enormous slide there which made them laugh with exhileration. In the park yesterday there were no bikes, lots of small areas, a climbing frame like a dragon and small slides... the children were busy the whole time with rather complex play (we think that that park was the best park for their play, but they rate the first one as better as they had bikes and the long slide there).

in one of the houses in the background is where Astrid Lindgren once lived...
To be honest I was rather relieved when all but one child said they had not enjoyed this park as much as the others... most rated it 1/10, 2/10, 4/10 commenting on the fact that they had not been able to ride a bike... one child said it was 10/10 - this child found a bike at the start and would not leave this bike at all, and played just a short while with other children when they had some time on bikes... this child would not give the bike to anyone else, no matter how the children asked, or how we reminded that maybe others would like a turn, and how would it feel if roles were reversed... this child was quite shocked at the response of peers interpretation of the park being very different. (I have deliberately written this without naming gender... as gender is actually not important here).

Tomorrow we will visit another new park, one without bikes, one of Stockholm's newest parks in fact... one that has amazed many by its look... will the children be able to play there as well as the playspace pleases their initial impression of the playspace... as Vaspark today did not deliver for THIS group of children (I have been there with many other groups where they have had great fun)

With so many new playspaces in one week it has been interesting to see how the children have reacted...  first there is an exploration phase, where they test out things... then (as we spend almost 2 hours at each park) they settle into various kinds of role play utilising the playspace as props or inspiration to their play.

On Friday we will reflect together (with images) on the playspaces... which was their favourite, and why... and if they were to design their dream playspace what would they want to be in it... (and maybe then I can create an image of this, similar to what I did for their dream square the first image (of several) can be found here)

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