The playground equipment at Trinity gave up the ghost this fall, after a good 12 years of climbing and exploring, and the spot it occupied at the top of the hill was bare, with only mulch as a remembrance. As the powers that be began to explore options, an idea was born in one of those 3 am musings that keep me awake. Why not give the problem of playground equipment to the children who use it? Rather than purchasing a pre-made playground, lets give the children an opportunity to explore the possibilities that we could engage that would make our play space unique to Trinity. The administration, especially Chris, seized the idea as a part of All Trinity Builds, the STEM project that was started last year.
This week each class, grades K-4, has an opportunity to brainstorm ideas, transfer those ideas to paper, and to build a model using recycled materials such as corks, bottle caps, wire, string, scraps of leather, tubing…. We will take selected elements from each grade level as we look for ideas to incorporate into our newly designed playground. Some ideas have included a putt-putt golf course, a zip line, swings (very popular…), a tower with a trampoline. Obviously, many of their suggestions are completely impossible, but others would enrich the outdoor experience of the children.
This has been such a perfect activity for the children as it enabled them to use their creativity in a collaborative environment to solve a real community need. Rather that creating a scenario in which we would put in a critical situation for the children to “solve”, as our storypaths serve so well, this problem is one that they face every day as they go outside to play. They felt empowered as they were asked to help meet the challenge of building a playground. This is a very constructivist approach to education, as we ask the children for their input as we think of ways to solve a problem.
We are attempting to document the process (aka Reggio Emilia) by videoing and photographing the process. Through creating a bulletin board of pictures, qr codes for links to videos, and the graphs/plans created by each group, we hope to have a lasting documentation of this experience. Hopefully we will have a new playground in place next fall that will mirror many of the ideas that the children have spawned this week.