Wormholt School’s Exhibition: Children’s Right to Play UNCRC Article 31

Towards the end of last year, Wormholt School W12 agreed to support our ideas of consulting with their children about favoured play places. It also tied in well with the school’s on-going work around the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Article 31 (children’s right to play). After we worked with the School Council (representatives of all year groups) and two Year 2 classes, the children produced around 75 drawings of their perspectives of the local area. The teacher with lead responsibility for the School Council’s work, Kate Cobbe, supported the children with the development of their own ideas on things they could ask adults and other children about play. We supported this process with playworker input. This week, after more work, we were able to pull all the material together to create a planned exhibition.

The children’s questions were intriguing in themselves. They asked:

Why is play important?
How much play time do you think children should have?
Is play just for children?
Does play have to have rules?
Does play make you happier?
Where is your favourite play place?
Do you enjoy play?
Should adults play?

Kate added just a little to some of these questions by tweaking them into open questions (i.e. requiring more than just a yes or no answer) and the completed questionnaires were added to the exhibition, along with some further information on play thinking taken from Play Wales (being a good source for this type of thing). Overview photos of the school’s exhibition are shown below (you can see the playworker display-creation input in the higgledly-piggedly-nesses!!)

When children came out of class on the first day of the exhibition, it was pleasing to see some of them running in between the display boards: play within and in between the play exhibition!

A huge thank you to Kate Cobbe in her support of play, and in working at home of a Friday night to pull it together! Thank you too to the children involved and to the parents and staff who returned their questionnaires. We hope that the exhibition can provoke plenty of further thinking on play.

 
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Boxes and Buckets and Chalk

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Over the past few weeks, as 2016 has settled into gear, we’ve been lucky with the weather at outreach play sessions. This has contributed to a good, strong turn-out each time we’ve been out and about, but it’s not the only reason: it’s a real privilege to see the growing play community taking shape. Parents talk with other parents, make observations of play to us, and support the play of their children and others’ children. We see plenty of friendly, familiar faces returning for session after session (children and adults too!) and play has filled the patch of green . . .

Playworkers and parents, and children themselves, pull others around on the trolley (which was just a device to transport stuff, but then became a daily car or train or way to get around!) There’s always a crowd around the art stuff (glitter and glue and beads and paper and sticks and feathers, and so on). Parents and children are discovering, for the first time (or re-discovering), the joys of plasticine! We’ve tried to introduce some new elements every session: a long flexi-tube, pink hammocks, some guttering, some car tyres. What gets played with stays another day. What doesn’t get played with for a while may be brought back at a later date: re-thought about in any case.

What has been played with plenty lately are boxes and buckets (both of which can be many things) and chalk (which, when we tidy away, often leaving the place tidier than when we found it, stays on the paving for a few days till it rains: a message of ‘play was here’). Here is a flavour of play:

We found some big old boxes that once held sofas, which became forts for ball and beanbag battles (as well as ‘how many of us children can fit in a box?’ and ‘what happens if we stand in a big box and lean over?’)

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Buckets and ropes and boxes found themselves converted into engineered systems, on trees and fixed equipment . . .

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We’re reminded of the playwork thinking of ‘compound flexibility’, where ‘flexibility in the play environment leads to increased flexibility in the child. That child is then better able to make use of the flexible environment, and so on.’ (Brown, 2003) . . .

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So, the more the environment can be changed by the child, the more the child is able to create ideas and be confident; the more that ideas and confidence take shape, the more the environment can be changed, and so on. All from just a few buckets and ropes and boxes!

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Of course, buckets can be used for many things (as crash helmets when riding the trolley, as armour in big box beanbag battles, as steps to reach the hula hoops in the branches, hung in trees just to see if beanbags can be thrown in there, or simply as targets on the ground).

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What if all the ground were played on? Just think: what if all the city’s streets were this colourful . . .

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Reference:

Brown, F. (2003), Compound flexibility: the role of playwork in child development in Brown, F. (Ed) (2003), Playwork: theory and practice. 1st ed. Buckingham: Open University Press.

 
 
 
 

Object Play Out and About

Because of recent observations of object play during outreach sessions, we took a tub of bits and bobs (old barrel insides and casings of locks and other things you find as ornaments on doors) to a session last week:

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A group of children sat out on the pavement for most of the session with the tub of bits and bobs and with hammers and nails and screws and screwdrivers. Plenty of focused play took place here and, on reflection, at least two of Bob Hughes’ 16 Play Types (probably more) were going on:

‘Object play [or] problem solving play . . . Playing with objects is a powerful revelatory element in the play process. Its repetitive and focused nature makes possible the discovery of uses and functions.’

‘Creative play [or] inventive play . . . When imaginatively provided for — where children have access to lots of different creative mediums and tools, where there is plenty of time . . . creative play can provide children with real insights into the meanings of colour, form, texture, beauty and their own abilities to create and combine.’

Though the process is often more important than the product, here’s something the children made, and discarded, earlier last week!

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Reference:

Hughes, B. (2002), A playworker’s taxonomy of play types. 2nd Ed. London: Playlink.

 
 
 
 

Hammers and Nails Out and About

It’s about time we posted more photos of things going on in the Play Project! So much is happening in play, and provisions for it. Play can happen pretty much anywhere and with anything . . .

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A big thank you too to all the parents and carers who are making time for their children’s play:

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Outreach Play

Following a series of well-received and well-attended outreach play sessions this term (lately repurposing the newly refurbished area that was nominally set aside as an adult outside gym space on Canada Way, White City), below are a selection of photos from the most recent session. We’ve been trying out improvised swings in the parks, various ways of setting out the tarp, bringing play stuff for parents too (because they wanted it!), and making use of other loose parts bits and bobs. More photos from this session (including those of wrapping the gym area in cellophane — call it land art!) can be found on the Play Project’s Facebook page here.

 
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White City Adventure Playground 1985 and 2015

History is a part of the work of this project and there’s so much of it here. There are plenty of stories being told but here’s a quick and direct photo comparison. In 1985, Pete Townshend of The Who filmed ‘White City: the Movie’ in these parts. Thirty years later and the built environment has changed a little! Here’s Townshend in ’85 from Australia Road, with the playground in the background, and below that is a shot from the same road (now Bridget Joyce Square, Australia Road) in 2015.

Townshend Australia Road (1985)
Reframed 2015 Version of Townshend 1985 Shot from Australia Road