Working with Open Space UK on the My School Playground project has been fantastic fun. Despite setbacks caused by the rainy winter weather in London the playground is now finished and looking brighter.
For more information on the aims of the project click here.
The initial ideas were based on talking with teachers and pupils about what they wanted to see on the playground. Working with children to create something is always challenging, because there are no limits on their imaginations a bit of reigning in has to be combined with trying to make the space exciting to a child.
The concept of the design focussed on creating an imaginary habitat for all the creatures the children had been learning about, both through their book “Eye of the Wolf” and through projects on the rainforest and habitats throughout the world. I wanted Year 6 to have as much involvement as possible in the design and painting process. The playground is a space that the children use to play in, obvious as it sounds I wanted to keep that in mind and create something that focussed on colour, play and fun. Thinking about the eye level of the different pupils was important. For the younger Year 1 -3 pupils having the flowers, fishes, hedgehog and scorpion on their level helped them feel included. The lily pads which we painted across the ramp/water section were already being used for “jumping to avoid the fishes” by some of the younger pupils as we finished painting the wall.
The initial designs included a shark but this was replaced by a second dolphin at the request of some of the younger children. For Year 6 taking the responsibility to create something for the school gave them a sense of achievement. They all really responded to the idea and loved the practical part (getting very messy!). Within the year group there was a range of abilities. The coral reef sponging and use of stencils allowed even the less confident children to be involved. As the project wound up the two classes were mixed so children worked with others they would not normally be paired with. This allowed a lot of cross-pollination of ideas and learning. I was really impressed to see how pupils shared their new knowledge of drawing, sponging, painting, stencilling and colour mixing with each other.
Project feedback (from Year 6):