acepuppets

Archive for the ‘Play eqipment’ Category


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Children already find school really exciting, what with imaginative play, spending time with your friends, practising kissing and of course school playground equipment. After a hard morning doing maths and English, being able to play on school playground equipment is a welcome break. School playground equipment has a duel purpose in the playground and the variety of pieces available reflects this.  School playground equipment can be used to support the curriculum and as entertainment during playtimes.

Music

Children can have music lessons outside with a number of outdoor musical instruments that are both robust and produce pretty good sounds.  Teachers can feel relieved that they don’t have to control the infernal noise generated by music lessons and can have a natural stance to the lessons.  During playtime, children can practice what they have learnt during lessons because the instruments are easily accessible.  Schools can purchase outdoor musical instruments as a group or individual pieces.  If the instruments are dotted around the playground children will, ‘discover’, them at playtime and create music of their own.  If the instruments are installed near to each other,  they are perfect for having a summer music lessons.  Generally choices are made according to space available and the size of the school budget.

Environmental

Teaching children about the environment can often be an abstract affair which can make it difficult to comprehend.  Playground companies have recognised this and developed ranges of planters, compost makers, bird feeders and bug hotels.  Children will be able to plant and nurture seeds while watching them grow every time they go out at playtime.  They will be able to observe birds and see how garden waste is recycled to make food for new plants.  This type of playground equipment is really useful if the school is in an urban area and there isn’t much greenery in the playground.  Also the raised beds mean that they are not prone to having too many unwanted visitors.

Story Telling

Children actually like telling stories, they may not be as keen writing them down but the fact that they love the sound of their own voice means that they love to share stories.  Many schools have story telling corners which are centred around a storytelling chair.  Children can either listen to stories being told to them or they could take it in turns to share stories with the class.  The teacher can guide the children so that they are not so long winded.  Eventually children will start incorporating their story telling skills in their writing.

Balance And Coordination

Using climbing walls and climbing frames teaches children an awful lot about how their body works.  Children see their friends scaling the playground equipment and set themselves goals to be as good as their friends.  In the past climbing frames in school playgrounds were quite terrifying but now they are accessible for all children to enjoy.  Just negotiating different equipment allows children to explore their limits and train their body’s so that they can achieve their personal goal.

Next time you are waiting for your children at the end of the day – have a sneaky peak at the school playground equipment – you will wish that your school playground was just as exciting.

 


When my son could barely sit up I decided to take him to  Rhythm Time sessions because I had heard that it was good for brain development etc.  As it happened Alistair ended up being the only one in the session so the hour of music and singing was pretty intense and hardcore.  On some occasions tiredness would make playing instruments quite difficult and my son would lie on the floor while we sang around him.  I wasn’t sure how much he had taken in until he was old enough to tell me and show me what he had learnt on his instruments at home.

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Newborn babies recognise music their mother listened to while they were in the womb. children’s music specialist Meredith LeVande of MonkeyMonkeyMusic.com says “More and more studies show a correlation between higher academic achievement with children who are exposed to music,”. This is because “Music simply stimulates parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development.”  (Source: sheknows.com).

Singing and playing music is extremely important for children’s all round development while practicing and learning how to play an instrument encourages, focus, concentration, dedication, patience and if they get good at it they can travel all over the world as part of a youth orchestra.  Cbeebies – yes that channel that keeps your toddlers quiet and after a while Mr Bloom and Mister Maker start looking attractive – advocate the benefits of music, singing and making your own instruments.

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Source: Cbeebies

Schools are accommodating natural creativity by installing musical playground equipment so children can create beautiful music at playtime.  Without adult intervention, children will learn how to organise themselves so that they can play successfully as a band.  Children love free creativity and are aware that music does have rhythmic rules that have to be followed so that they produce music rather than noise.

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So next time you hear an almighty crash and terrible noise and your child claims that they are making music then you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that they are increasing their intelligence – honest!

 


 

We have had a bit of family illness to contend with recently and my son has dealt with it like a super hero.  I promised him that I would take him to LEGO Land Windsor and that we would stay in the resort hotel. To be perfectly honest staying in the resort hotel is incredibly expensive, for the same amount you could probably stay in a cheaper hotel for three days.

We had an early start on the morning of our expedition and many different trains to catch but we managed to get to LEGO Land in one piece.  The outside of the hotel did have a wow factor and was so child orientated that nobody needed to nag their children to stand still and wait while you checked in.  The greatest attraction in the reception area was a large sand pit full of LEGO, tearing Alistair away from that proved to be quite difficult and we hadn’t even entered the park.  We couldn’t go to our room until three o’clock so we spent the next three hours exploring the park.

It was a bit disorientating entering the park from the hotel because you are essentially entering it from the back into the quiet part.  We wandered towards the Viking area and went on the spinning log ride.  Most of our time was spent wandering around and squirting water on the people doing the wet rides.  We had some doughnuts and a drink then went to the shop to buy a big LEGO cube storage box.  We were both a bit tired and relieved to get back to the hotel so that we could enter our room.

The floor our room was on was fantastic and kitted out like an Indiana Jones set.  Our room definitely had the wow factor and the children’s bedroom bit was everything a little adventurer could hope for.  The carpet had pictures of scorpions, spiders and bugs on it and the walls were decorated with Egyptian hieroglyphs and Lego sculptures.   The adult side of the room was near the window and looked like a luxury hotel room with a really comfortable double bed.  There were two televisions so the children can watch Lego TV and the adults can watch Midsummer Murders.

On the side was a set of clues instructing the child to count four objects so that the answers could form the combination of a safe.  We were hopeless at counting and eventually managed to unlock the safe to reveal a Lego car.  We spent an hour resting and snacking on our packed lunch before getting ready to go into the hotel splash pool. It was great splashing about and extremely hot.  We went to the restaurant for dinner and entertainment – the entertainers did a sterling job of playing Simon Says and setting Duplo building competitions.

Finally it was bed time and I was so stiff I could hardly walk.  Alistair fell fast asleep without a fuss and I wasn’t long after him.  We slept soundly until seven o’clock in time for a 7.30 breakfast.  The breakfast selection was fantastic and you could eat as much as you wanted to.  We didn’t have a cooked breakfast and Alistair could only manage a small bowl of cereal because he was so excited.  We stayed in the lounge for a short while until we went upstairs to pack and check out of the hotel.  After handing my rucksack in to be looked after we spent the next three hours enjoying the park.

Lego Land has been designed to accommodate children of all ages and abilities and the staff are really good with children. Before 12.30 a Lego driving licence was acquired, we saw sharks, we went on a train, we saw the Star Wars exhibition and models of all of the major cities in the world.  We also had a play in one of the playgrounds which like the rest of the park had an inclusive playground design allowing all children to have the best time ever.

We spent the last half hour in the reception area playing with Lego and spending money in the shop until the Taxi arrived at one o’clock.  We were taken straight to Slough Station and had a tiring but good journey home.  It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror did I realise that I looked a complete mess.  My eyes were swollen and starting to go black the next day to the shock of my friends who said that I looked as if I had been mugged.  Anyway my son said that his holiday had been, ‘better than awesome’, which was all I wanted to hear.

 

 

 

 


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I think that the greatest thing I miss about not being in education any more is not being able to participate in role play.  Working with children provides the best opportunities to let go of reality (without being sectioned) and enter a fantasy world.  Although in reality we are all role playing to hide our short comings and sadness.  Some adults take role playing to another level and become members of role play societies.

If you have ever been to a summer fair and watched someone weaving baskets, wearing medieval clothes, chances are they are part of a role play group.  Companies like Iron Shepherds Living History visit schools and attend summer fairs educating people about the Medieval and Victorian era through role play.  Role play is so useful as an education tool that businesses use it to train their staff.  So what is it about role play that is so fantastic?

Play puts the zing in to. ‘role play’, children don’t need to dress up to enjoy it and can visualise a whole new world in the sitting room.  Unlike adults, children see the magic in everything and become masters of their own universe.  Apart from objects scattered all over the carpet, children are processing everything they have learnt during the day and programming their brains to use that knowledge the next day.

We associate role play with the under fives and school and public play areas have early years playground role play equipment fitted so that parents and teachers can encourage and observe children participating in role play activities. Kiddy Charts blog has written a fascinating blog on the benefits of role play for children.  When you are the parent of a young child, like it or not, you will end up pretending to be a shop keeper, customer, patient or a dog.

The Training website basically repeats virtually the same benefits of using role play in training as the Kiddy Charts blog but in a commercial way; confidence building, develop listening skills and creative problem solving.  Play therapy is used to treat children who have had a traumatic time but is increasingly used to treat adults with dementia, grief and loss, post traumatic stress syndrome, obsessions and compulsions, anxiety and depression.  Adults often need to be reminded on how to summon up their imagination in order to participate in the treatment.

If you are an adult who enjoys dressing up as a Viking, knight, basket weaver or Victorian you are probably boosting up you well being scores. As long as you don’t start believing you are who you are dressed up as you will probably have a very fulfilling life.

 


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These days it would seem that the Nicky Morgan and Jeremy Hunt make policies without actually talking to each other.  We are given such mixed messages when it comes to developing our children’s minds and bodies.  On the one hand the Education Minister wants to increase the amount of academic work our children do, including dreaded homework. On the other hand,  the Health Minister keeps telling us we are too fat and children don’t get enough exercise.  The amount of opportunities children have to free play and therefore exercise is decreasing with every new target that is added to the OFSTED process.

Tracey Crouch, the Sports Minister, tried to convince us that the Olympic games would make athletes of us all.  There was a little increase in sports participation but nothing to get excited about.  Our medalists didn’t inspire us to exercise more, rather they encouraged us to; open new bank accounts, eat Quorn and watch, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.  All of these activities could be done at home on the sofa and failed miserable to get anyone excited about sport. apparently there is no single reason why people don’t participate in exercise more.

School trim trails, climbing frames, climbing walls and many other pieces of playground equipment adorn our school playgrounds now, yet children are not getting as much time in the school day to play freely. In the late 70’s and early 80’s when I was at school our playground equipment consisted of a dangerous climbing frame, a huge field, crystal draining stones in a filled in stream, grass cuttings and magnifying glasses.  Incidentally the exercise we got from the magnifying glasses was running away from the dinner ladies when we used them to melt black bin bags.  If it was sunny we would go out and play rounders or cricket on the field.  If it was snowing we took our sledges to the nearest hill and didn’t worry that we were missing English or Maths.

These days, unless an activity has got a significant number of learning outcomes and can be incorporated into a success criteria anything that doesn’t have a box to tick doesn’t count as learning.  The notion that exercise has to be formal and that you should achieve some sort of accolade for participating in it is suffocating our love of sport.  My brother and I spent one summer holiday playing in our grandparent’s empty coal bunker, it was great because the adults couldn’t get to us and we got filthy.  The amount of agility and strength required to get in and out of a coal bunker is quite a lot, we slept well at night and fat kids can’t fit into coal bunkers.

We all probably interfere far more in our children’s lives than our parents did in ours.  For some reason we treat children like they are made of fine china and neither their feelings or their bodies should be hurt.  I had bruises and scuffed knees for most of my childhood – I didn’t get upset about it and our parents were caring but accepted that it was part of childhood.  Now I am terrified of my son getting bruised and scuffed simply because I am afraid of being judge as a bad parent.

Play is definitely the secret to getting children to exercise more because it is so flexible and the imagination takes away the boredom of training.  When I watch my son and puppy playing together they are both exercising but because they are playing then don’t realize it.


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This year nature seems to have provided us with a bountiful supply of mud.  Whether we have liked it or not country dwellers have been forced to contend with muddy feet and huge puddles on a daily basis.  Children have found having impromptu mud baths fun and washing machines have been working double shifts during this constant wet season.  If we think that sending our little darlings to school will prevent them from getting dirty then we are going to be disappointed.

Mud kitchens are all the rage in schools now, whether a DIY plucky Governor version or bought one, your children will spend some of their school day in mud kitchens.  This article from Playdale Playgrounds explains why mud kitchens are such great fun. At home children can pester Mum and Dad for old utensils, cupboards and buckets so that they can enjoy the glory of mud.  As with all aspects of play, a mud kitchen provides a rich learning experience that we just assumed was mucking about.

If learning objectives and opportunities are what floats your boat then this chart produced by blogger Worms Eye View applies EYFS Learning Opportunities to playing in mud kitchens.

Learning opportunities sheet Outdoor Kitchen

All children can enjoy playing in mud kitchens, as the activity provides learning experiences for children of all abilities.  Aspiring artists and those who like to touch and feel the world have wonderful opportunities to explore texture, consistency and the possibility of shaping mud.  Scientists will totally enjoy experimenting with water quantities and soil types. All children enjoy copying their home life and a kitchen environment is where a lot of the action happens.

Learning objectives aside playing with mud and soil is really pleasurable.  I remember my mud kitchen in the corner of the garden, consisting of an old pan, buckets and a sieve.  One very warm summer holidays 35 years ago was spent sieving dry mud to make a sandy dust – I can’t remember the expensive activities we did that year but playing in my mud kitchen is firmly fixed in my mind.

To make lasting memories kit your kids up with clothes that can withstand mud and frequent washing, old spoons and pans. These are the ingredients of happy childhood memories.


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I gave my parents a hard time and they gave their parents a hard time – I can guarantee that I will lock horns with my son as soon as he becomes a teenager.  All I can do at the moment is to give him a good grounding so that he can deal with the emotional coaster of being a teenager.  We bring our children up to be independent and have their own thoughts only to try to stifle the results of our training when they become teenagers.  I think parents are programmed to be stick in the muds and teenagers become bulldozers with the goal of knocking any boundaries down.

Unrequited Love

I am not a parent of a teenager yet but I vaguely remember that being one was quite bitter sweet. Life seemed to be a constant battle between concentrating on my exams and coping with unrequited love.  When you finally get to have a boyfriend you never think you are going to love anyone like that again and you are mortified when it ends. The truth is that you never will because next time that love is diluted a little with wariness and reality.  Like a toddler discovering the world, a teenager is discovering adulthood and everything is in technicolour.

Rebellion

I remember my hormones raging, slamming doors a lot and spending hours in the bath so I could spend time on my own.  I didn’t hang around the streets but had plenty of friends to be a teenager with.  We didn’t try to conform to adulthood but we thought that we had the moral high ground – which was true because we hadn’t had chance to make big mistakes yet to discover our humanity. Some of my friends rebelled in big ways while others pushed the boundaries more subtly. I tended to not tell my parents where I was going and did what I wanted – well as much as my limited finances would allow.

Parents Aren’t That Stupid After All

Being a teenager and a young adult is all about taking risks and causing your parents to be continuously worried about your safety.  If your relationship with your parents is pretty stable the rebellion eventually subsides. Once you discover that they weren’t that bad after all you have your own ideas and combine the both so that you can prepare your own child for rebellion.

Teenage Shelters

The biggest issue with feisty teenagers is that they don’t really have anywhere to go to hang out. This predicament results in them making the street look untidy and getting into trouble. Playdale playgrounds discusses this issue in an article. They have referred to studies that have found a marked reduction in teenage disruption when teenage shelters were installed near recreational areas. Teenage shelters are essentially a collection of seats covered by a roof. This means that teenagers can still have a meeting place, away from boring adults, without getting too wet.

Being a teenager is not always easy and neither is being the parent of one but being part of your child’s next adventure is exciting.