Did you know that one of the best ways to support a young child’s cognitive development is through creative play outdoors?
It’s true. Imaginative play gives children the opportunity to think for themselves and figure out how things work. It exercises the brain and allows them to learn how to piece everything together.
Through the eyes of a child, the school playground is a magical world of endless possibilities, waiting to be explored. It enables them to use their imaginations, investigate and explore – not to mention make their own minds up as to what they play with or who they pretend to be – whilst being physically active.
So, to encourage little ones to play and solve problems inventively, you want to make sure that you have age-appropriate school playground equipment.
If you’re lacking inspiration on how to promote imaginative play on your playground, these tips should help…
- Active play – from climbing frames fit for kings and queens to activity trails and obstacle courses, there are lots of ways you can incorporate physical activity into your schoolyard. You could even install sports markings that unleash their competitive streak. All these things can help to develop vital perceptual skills, as well as coordination, balance and spatial awareness – and guarantee hours of endless fun for the entire class.
- Messy play – it’s no secret that youngsters tend to learn best when they can be hands-on and interact with things. And messy play allows them to do exactly that! Raw materials, such as sand, water, chalk, playdough or even food items, can spur children’s imaginations and allow them to make discoveries which in turn stimulates their curiosity and improves their knowledge.
- Music-making – learning the alphabet and learning how to count are often things taught inside the classroom, but why not make lessons more fun and take them outside? You could ask the class to gather around on mushroom seats and lead them in nursery rhymes – teaching them all the actions too! Or if you have budding musicians in your school, perhaps you’d like to make the most of outdoor musical instruments or play panels?
- Role-play – how many pre-school and reception children don’t enjoy pretend play? They use their imaginations to come up with make-believe games and often put themselves in the shoes of a particular character (i.e. a superhero or a prince or princess). Whilst playhouses and performance stages can set the scene for role-plays, you may also consider using thermoplastic line markings to create a play town. This way, children can ride around on their bikes, trikes and scooters – following the road signs and stopping when the traffic lights are on red – and let their creativity run free.
- Storytelling – reading is crucial for children of all ages. A good book will stimulate young minds and get them thinking and – with a storytelling chair and comfortable seating to surround or cosy reading corners – the outdoors is a brilliant place to conduct storytime. The fresh air wakes youngsters up and allows them to get lost in the tale. But hey, who says you even need a book? You could take it in turns to add parts to a story – that’s sure to get your pupils’ creative juices flowing!
Follow these tips and you can’t go far wrong. If your outdoor areas are starting to look a little drab and dated, and you’d like to invest in some new school playground equipment that promotes imaginative play, be sure to get in touch with Setter Play.
They have a superb range of products to choose from and have been working with schools and educational establishments in their home county for the past two decades. If you know exactly what equipment you want, their design team will be more than happy to arrange a consultation and talk through your wonderful ideas.