When schools think about installing outdoor play equipment they often look at a playground simply as a playground and don’t consider the ways it can be used to enhance learning. At ESP Play, we’ve spent years developing products for specific curriculum areas that let you turn your playground into an outdoor classroom which can be used in lessons or for children to use during break times.
To give you an idea of what you can achieve in your own playground, we’ve put together a list of seven curricular areas that can benefit from installing outdoor equipment.
1. Communication and language
Put a stage in a playground and it can be used during lessons for performing plays, music, dance and poetry. You can make as much noise as you like without having to disrupt neighbouring classes whilst giving children the chance to express themselves in fresh air.
During break times, outdoor stages become natural focal points where groups of children will create their own roleplays to show to their friends. They really are the ultimate children’s roleplay equipment, giving pupils the impetus to communicate with those who are watching.
It is a great way to encourage development in communication and language and is ideal for English, drama and music lessons.
2. Physical development
If you want playground equipment that offers pupils great fun and can be used for physical development during free times and PE lessons, then installing a Trim Trail is the ideal solution. Exciting to play on, Trim Trails help develop body strength, stamina, balance and coordination.
One of the biggest advantages for schools is that children love to play on them – they are a natural way to encourage participation in physical activity. You can also create your own bespoke trails, putting together different elements suited to your pupils’ ages and needs. You can even install equipment with easily interchangeable parts, letting you offer an even greater choice of activities.
3. Personal, social and emotional development
Social interaction is one of the key ingredients in driving personal, social and emotional development and this can be achieved in the playground simply by laying better playground flooring or adding a range of playground markings.
Both flooring and markings are excellent ways to encourage children to play together and interact. Your flooring choice can help make children feel safer and thus make them less inhibited, whilst the wide range of playground markings available give opportunities to children to participate in traditional, modern and self-invented playground activities, games and sports.
One of the main curricular areas, developing literacy is a key focus for every school. A way to enhance and expand your literacy provision is to give pupils the chance to participate in English lessons outdoors.
Working outdoors can be a great inspiration when undertaking creative writing tasks and by using specially designed outdoor English equipment this is now possible for the whole class, small groups and even for one to one work for pupils who need to work with your classroom assistant.
You’ll also find that our range of boards and writing tables are perfect for outdoor handwriting activities which some children may want to do during break times.
Another key curriculum area that can benefit from being taught in your outdoor space is mathematics. Installing curriculum focused playground maths equipment is a great way to deliver fun and exciting outdoor maths activities that free you from the confines of the classroom and enable you to cover everything from basic adding to tessellation and symmetry. They are ideal for collaborative group work and for whole class active lessons.
What’s more, with maths-based games like battle boards (battleships) and soma cubes, you’re bound to keep the learning going through break and lunchtimes too, as these naturally interactive pieces will keep children engaged and entertained even during their free time.
6. Understanding the world
Children are fascinated by seeing nature in action and giving them access to it in your outdoor play area is a great way to encourage learning whilst enabling teachers to deliver essential elements of the science curriculum.
You can achieve this by installing our forest school equipment which will enable you to create your school’s own nature garden. This wide range of science-based, outdoor equipment can be used to study plant growth and insect life cycles, grow food, feed birds and investigate soils.
At the same time, you are creating a natural space in your playground which gives children much-needed access to nature whilst encouraging respect for wildlife and the environment at the same time.
7. Art and design
Children love art and design but there never seems to be enough curriculum time available to satisfy their appetite. However, it is now possible to give your pupils the chance to do some playground painting during their free time by installing specially designed outdoor art and design equipment in your playground.
Using chalkboards, dry wipe boards or a painting station, children can take inspiration from the outdoors to exercise their imaginations and develop their creative skills. What’s great about this equipment is that the pieces are interchangeable, so you can take them down and swap them over whenever you want.
They are also ideal for using in art lessons, especially when the sun is shining and you want to take advantage of the great outdoors and natural lighting.
Your playground is one of the biggest assets that your school has, yet for many schools it is much under used. With a little bit of investment, you can turn your outdoor play area into a fully functional, outdoor learning resource centre that can be utilised during lesson times and be a source of fun, excitement and extended learning during break and lunch times.