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  • Skribentens bildSuzanne Axelsson

Outdoor play inspiration

On my facebook page Interaction Imagination I have been doing live films about play spaces and other spaces that can inspire play and learning in early years education. The most important aspect of designing an outdoor space is think about how children play, how you teach and how these two experiences can intersect. The preschool playground is a space not just for the child, the learner, but also for the adult, the teacher. So consideration for designing for play, learning and teaching must be considered.

Instead of just bringing in typical playground equipment, think about HOW do children learn, how do they play (and what kind of play is welcome, as I find many places do not welcome all kinds of play, and this needs to be carefully considered... why not rough and tumble, why not stick sword, why not...? and why the play types you have included?) and then reflect on how do I teach, what do I need from my "third teacher" colleague in order to teach creatively, actively, scientifically, playfully etc? The different kinds of play:

Active play - such as running, climbing, jumping, swinging, balancing, spinning, rolling, kicking, punching etc

Sensory play - such as different textures to touch. flowers and plants etc to smell, music and sounds (including different surfaces which can make different sounds when running on them), edible plants and fruits to taste. seeing different perspectives, angles, as well as shapes and colours etc

Creative play - such as painting, drawing, crafting, tinkering, writing, singing, drumming, dancing, drama etc

Imaginative play - such as make-believe, dressing up, role-play, play house/ship/restaurant. dolls, props, small world, construction, forming, manipulating, sifting, pouring, scooping, combining, stacking etc

Social play - such as chatting, sharing, co-operating, taking turns, following "rules", playing sports/games, collaboration etc

Reflective play - watching/observing, resting, daydreaming, resting, staring into space.

Inclusive play - ensuring that all children and all abilities are able to meet as equals based on their strengths and not always judged by their weaknesses.

So how is all this play included? What kind of space is needed, and how can it be designed so that it is not just an area for each but tat te space is transdisciplinary as a learning space and intersectional as a play space. At the same time there is belonging, that the space reflects the children and their lives, their context, that there is a "sense of place".

Here is a link to my facebook page Interaction Imagination where you can see the films and listen to more of my reflections on this topic

below are a few images to inspire... all photos taken by myself... Sweden, China, Australia in preschools and also public play spaces.

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