Top Playground Markings For EYFS and Infant Pupils

outdoor classrooms

Affordable and easy to install, playground markings are a cost-effective way to transform your EYFS or infant school playground. What’s more, they are now available in a wide variety of designs, enabling you to broaden the range of play and learning activities you offer outdoors and improve outcomes for younger children. Here, we’ll look at what we think are the top playground markings for EYFS and infants.

Sports playground markings for younger children

Although younger children might not fully understand the rules, getting them to participate in sports by kicking or throwing a ball around a marked out sports pitch can have enormous benefits. One of the most important is in improving a child’s health and fitness. Besides being great fun, chasing a ball around is also quite a demanding physical activity that can boost cardiovascular health, improve general fitness and even have a positive impact on mental wellbeing. Additionally, the familiarity of taking part on a marked out pitch can help children as they learn the rules of the sports and become more skilled participants.

While there is a good range of sports markings available, for affordability and to cope with limited space, the best option for EYFS and infant schools is to opt for multi-court markings, such as our 3-in-1 futsal (mini-football), netball and basketball court. With the different sports markings highlighted in different colours, it is ideal for offering multiple sports when you have a small playground. Goals and nets can also be purchased to make your facilities complete.

Agility, balance and coordination skills markings

Agility, balance and coordination development is an important requirement in both EYFS and Key Stage 1. These skills are acquired through practice and one of the best ways that schools can facilitate progress is to provide resources that not only provide opportunities to take part but which also motivate children to have a go.

ESP has a wide range of agility, balance and coordination markings, including steppers, twisty lines, footwork chess, and agility ladders. These help children learn to move forwards, backwards and side to side by taking steps, hops and jumps.

Roadway markings

Our roadway markings have an important double-function. While they are fantastic fun to play on or even pedal around on a trike, they also provide a perfectly safe place in which to help children learn about road safety, both as a pedestrian and a bike user.

Featuring dual-direction roads with central markings, zebra crossings, traffic lights, roundabouts, yellow box junctions, parking bays and a petrol station, children can learn about how traffic systems work and what they need to do to stay safe. It will help them know which direction traffic travels in on roads and roundabouts, learn where, when and how to cross a road and understand the dangers of car parks and petrol stations.

Of course, the markings give unlimited play opportunities, with children using them to take many a roleplay road-trip or to pedal their trikes around a realisic roadway.

Letters and phonics markings

With literacy in early years and infant schools starting with letter learning and the teaching of phonics, what better way to enhance this than by having fun practising in the playground? Today, there are several letter and phonics markings available. These include an alphabet target, an A to Z letter stepper, a footwork vowels stepper and our Phonics Spots stepper which features ten of the most common phonics sounds. As children play on these, they’ll also be able to practice naming the letters and saying the sounds, helping them improve their overall literacy skills.

Number markings

Similar to literacy markings, number markings also help children acquire numeracy skills while having fun in the playground. These help children learn to recognise numbers, count forwards and backwards and learn number sequences.

There is a good range of numeracy markings suitable for EYFS and infant pupils. These include compass hopscotch (suitable for 4 children to play at the same time), Hex Steps, a 1-100 mathematical number grid, a number arch and our Shapes and Ladders game.

Wider learning markings

In addition to learning the fundamental skills, there are also opportunities to introduce markings that widen learning into other areas. Our weather markings, for example, display commonly used weather signs, such as a cloud, sunshine, umbrella and snowflake, as well as introducing the days of the school week. Meanwhile, our Multi-Markings introduce the basic compass directions, our Alpha Clock displays clock hours and our Shapes markings let children learn about circles, triangles, squares, rectangles and pentagons.

Conclusion

Playground markings are an excellent and affordable choice for EYFS and infant schools. They help children to be fitter and healthier while facilitating the development of agility, balance and coordination; they let pupils learn about road safety, literacy and numeracy and they provide opportunities for wider learning. Most importantly, of course, they look very inviting and are great fun to play on.

For more information, visit our Playground Markings page.

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6 Key Elements of the Modern School Playground

Playgrounds have moved on a lot over the last few years. Like blackboards in classrooms, old fashioned asphalt schoolyards have been consigned to the annals of history. Today’s playgrounds use modern surfacing materials, have places for outdoor seating and eating, provide areas for shelter and are equipped for fun, sport and relaxation. To give a more detailed overview, here are the six key elements of a modern playground.

1. Modern surfacing materials

The surface of your playground is one of its most important elements. Get it right and you have a space that can be used all year round and for a wide variety of purposes. A good surface needs to be safe, easy to look after, durable and something that is good for children to play on. At the same time, it needs to be matched to any other equipment you want to install.

For most of the 20th Century, asphalt has been the standard material used for playground surfacing, however, this is now being replaced by more modern and superior materials. Two of the main reasons are that, like tarmac, it is expensive to maintain and its hard surface is a frequent cause of injuries, such as nasty scrapes or broken bones. Its hardness makes it particularly unsuitable for using underneath the climbing equipment that many schools are now installing.

Today, you are more likely to see schools using a wider variety of playground surfaces, each one fulfilling a different purpose. For example, wetpour surfacing, with its cushioned protection, is ideal for younger children and for placing under raised equipment from which children may fall. Softer surfacing also comes in the form of rubber mulch and there’s also artificial grass, which is great for sports. If you have real grass, you can protect it from erosion and stop it from becoming a quagmire by installing grass matting over the top. If you still need hard surfaces in places, resin bound gravel is a more durable and better alternative to asphalt.

2. Places for sitting and eating

All children will want to spend some time sitting down chatting to friends during break times and, at lunchtimes, there are those with packed lunches who’d prefer a spot in the open air to a cramped and busy canteen.

These simple pleasures are easy and inexpensive to cater for and you’ll find that in a modern playground, a sitting and eating zone is usually provided. There is a range of playground seating you can install, including wooden benches and picnic tables, as well as individual seats and even mini amphitheatres where larger groups of friends can chat together.

3. Providing shelter

Bad weather playtimes, when the kids are kept indoors, aren’t much fun for staff or pupils. While outdoor shelters won’t be usable in the worst of the weather, they can help reduce the number of indoor breaks you need. More importantly, playground shelters help those children who feel the cold to have somewhere dry and which offers some protection from those chilly winds. Equipment includes everything from large, octagonal shelters with decked floors and built-in seating, to pergolas and sail shades. For younger children, there are also play huts and dens.

4. Invest in a nature area

All of us benefit from the calming influence of nature and providing a little bit of greenery to your playground can make a big difference to the children’s moods. If you haven’t got the luxury of your own green area, there are ways to introduce a bit of park life into an industrial looking playground. With planters, trellises and artificial grass, you can grow shrubs and flowers to create your own nature and garden zone. You can even add bug houses and bird boxes. It’s the ideal solution for kids who need some relaxation after challenging lessons in a busy classroom.

5. Fun and games

It’s hard to have fun when you’re shoved out into a blank quadrangle of grey asphalt. However, by installing the right equipment, you can create a vibrant outdoor space that provides lots of fun opportunities for children of all interests.

One of the most affordable options is to install playground markings. There are specific fun and games markings that enable children to play both traditional and modern playground games. There are even designs to encourage role play, such as our roadway markings which comes complete with a roundabout, parking spaces and a zebra crossing.

You may be more familiar with sports markings which can be used both at playtimes and for PE lessons. These create the pitches pupils need to play football, netball and basketball, plus a range of other popular sports.

6. Equipment children love

What gets the biggest thumbs up from pupils is when you install the types of equipment found in public playgrounds. Today’s children want exciting things to play on, like climbing equipment and its now possible to install these in schools. And with items such as Trim Trails obstacle courses, Free Flow climbing frames, traversing walls, play towers and even parkour equipment, you’re bound to give your pupils the ultimate, playtime fun.

Not only are these pieces of equipment designed for safety; they also get the children to become more active during their free time and help develop a wide range of social and learning skills.

There is also a lot of fun equipment designed especially for younger children, such as outdoor musical instruments, mud kitchens and splashy water and sand equipment.

Conclusion

If you are looking to bring your playground into the 21st Century, hopefully, the points we have discussed here will help you see what the main features of a modern school playground are. With modern surfacing, places for sitting and eating, shelter from the rain and wind, natural areas for those who need to relax and exciting areas for those who need to burn off steam, today’s school playground genuinely caters for the needs of children when they are outdoors.

If you are looking to modernise your school playground, check out our range of products or look at our free playground design service.

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6 Ways Your Pupils Can Benefit from The Daily™

If you’ve been watching ITV recently, you may have seen it’s been showing an advert for The Daily Mile, an initiative which aims to improve the health and fitness of every child by getting them to run, jog, walk or propel their wheelchairs for fifteen minutes, each school day.

If you haven’t seen the ad, check it out now.

As you can see, getting your school to participate in The Daily Mile is a great opportunity. This is why over 7000 UK schools are now participating and new schools are getting involved every day. Indeed, the UK initiative is so popular it's now been adopted in 55 countries across all continents: from Kettering to Kathmandu, children everywhere are being given the chance to improve their physical, social, emotional and mental health and wellbeing.

So, why is The Daily Mile so beneficial and why are so many schools taking the plunge? Here are six ways your school and your pupils can benefit from The Daily Mile.

1. Improves body condition

Just as a good breakfast sets you up for the day, good body fitness during your youth can have benefits long into the future. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. It is good to know then, that doing The Daily Mile can have a positive effect on a child’s body composition. It improves cardiovascular health, makes bones denser and builds muscular strength.

Improving body composition while young can help the body defend itself against things like osteoporosis and heart disease later in life.

2. Helps fight obesity

As primary teachers will know, the National Child Measurement Programme measures the height and weight of pupils in reception and year six to ascertain whether they are at a healthy weight or not. According to their most recent literature, around 10% of reception pupils are very overweight. By year 6, the figure has doubled to 20% and the number of very overweight year 6 pupils has increased year on year.

When children take part in the daily mile, they will be physically active for around 75 minutes every week. That helps them burn more calories and, in doing so, goes some way to helping pupils maintain a healthy weight.

3. Can benefit certain physical health conditions

Regular physical activity has been shown to benefit a number of medical conditions, some of which are common in younger people. For example, those pupils who suffer from asthma or diabetes may find that The Daily Mile helps their condition.

4. Helps the development of physical skills

Developing physical skills is a key part of the EYFS and primary curriculum, so it is helpful to know that getting your pupils to take part in The Daily Mile has been shown to improve gross and fine motor skills as well as overall balance.

5. Improves mental health and wellbeing

GPs refer around 400,000 children a year for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. At such a young age, not only do these conditions affect their personal lives, but they can also impede their academic progress. This can have a negative effect on their ability to get a place at university or achieve the career they want further down the line.

Regular physical activity, such as The Daily Mile, has been proven to have a positive effect on mental health, increasing happiness and reducing stress. Indeed, it doesn’t just help those with such conditions, it can also reduce the chance of mental health problems happening to others.

6. Understanding the importance of health

The organisers of The Daily Mile have discovered that children who participate become increasingly aware of the need to be healthy and are keener to take responsibility for it.

In a society like ours, where children are bombarded with the temptations of junk food and where a lot of free time is spent glued to a screen, many messages about leading healthy lifestyles don’t have the impact we want them to. If The Daily Mile is helping children to be accountable to themselves for their own health, this can only be a good thing.

Setting up a course suitable for the Daily Mile

If your school playground is 50 yards long, a child will need to run over 35 lengths to complete a mile. That may look like a challenge during week one, but as the weeks progress, simply running from one end to the other, over and over, is not going to keep everyone motivated.

What’s helping many schools, is to create a course suitable for the daily mile using existing pathways and incorporating the use of playground markings. Simple line markings can be used to create a more exciting and less repetitive route around the school that pupils will find more enjoyable to follow. At the same time, you can increase the challenge and the fun by adding a range of fun markings into the course, such as a roadway, twisty lines, hurdle markings, hopscotch steps and roundabouts. If your pathway needs to intertwine, you can even add a zebra crossing.

Of course, if you want to go further, you can also add bridges, Trim Trails obstacles, like jungle bars and balance beams, or even build in one of our modular Free Flow climbing frames. There’s no end to how exciting you can make your Daily Mile.

If you are looking for help creating a course for your school’s Daily Mile, call us on 01282 43 44 45.

'The Daily Mile' name and logo are trademarks of The Daily Mile Foundation, Hawkslease, Chapel Lane, Lyndhurst SO43 7FG (Registered Charity Number 1166911). All rights reserved.

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Playground Climbing Equipment: Why Schools Are Raising the Bar

Across the country, pupils in thousands of schools are reaping the benefits of playground climbing equipment. In this post, we’ll look at why they have become so popular and how they are helping both pupils and their schools.

1. Climbing improves physical health

One of the chief benefits of installing climbing equipment is that playing on it can make children healthier. Climbing, swinging and jumping are all activities which demand children to physically exert themselves. This form of exercise helps them burn off the calories, increase muscular strength and improve fitness, including that of the heart.

Research from the Liverpool John Moors University has shown that installing climbing apparatus in a playground increases the amount of time pupils take part in moderate to vigorous activity by around 30 minutes each week, with over 70% of children improving their health and fitness as a result.

2. Helps with child mental health

The mental health of children has become a major concern over recent years. According to The Guardian, 50,000 children and young people are referred for treatment by their GPs every month. Whether this is attributable to modern lifestyles or the increasing pressure put on pupils to achieve in schools, one thing is for certain: getting active can be very beneficial.

Taking part in physical activities such as climbing has been proved to increase endorphins and reduce stress, which is why practitioners recommend it for children with anxiety and depression. Indeed, those who regularly take part in vigorous physical activity have a lower chance of developing a mental health problem.

3. Climbing to learn

early years physical climbing activity playground equipment

To be a good learner requires pupils to develop skills such as resilience, concentration and teamwork. Playing on climbing equipment, especially in peer groups, helps pupils to acquire and develop these skills naturally. Climbing equipment such as Trim Trail obstacle courses, for example, motivates pupils to participate in challenges that will hone these skills so that they can be transferred to the classroom and used in more academic pursuits.

Another benefit for schools is that physical exercise can have a positive effect on pupil behaviour. Studies have found that pupils who take part in active play are much more likely to stay on task during lessons and be better behaved.

4. Climbing for communication and social skills

In a playground setting, climbing equipment offers children a myriad of opportunities to play together, where they can set each other climbing challenges or participate in role play. All of this requires them to interact socially, developing skills in communication, turn taking and negotiation. They’ll learn to set and abide by rules, settle disputes, make new friends, resolve issues and give instructions. Doing this in the playground, where staff can monitor things from a comfortable distance provides a unique opportunity to develop these skills in a safe environment.

5. Forging personal independence

traditional trim trail equipment

For pupils to leave school prepared for life in the wider world, it is important that they develop personal independence. Encouraging this trait begins at primary school and can be significantly assisted through outdoor play, where adult supervision is at a minimum.

By installing climbing equipment such as our Freeflow climbing frames, you can put children in exciting situations where they will need the self-reliance to make independent decisions about which route to take, how to overcome obstacles and how to negotiate unfamiliar pathways.

6. Providing challenge and managing risk

‘Challenge’ has been an Ofsted buzzword for some years and inspectors often complain that they don’t see enough of it in schools. While setting a challenge is one thing, encouraging pupils to rise to it is another. Developing this characteristic can be helped with the use of climbing equipment where students can set themselves challenges in how to negotiate a route around the apparatus. This also involves a certain degree of managing risk, for example, can the route they choose across a traversing wall be completed without falling off? Of course, with safe playground flooring installed underneath, the risk is that of failure, not of injury.

Climbing equipment can help pupils to take on new challenges which might, previously, have been scary to them. This is ideal for improving self-confidence and giving children a much-needed sense of achievement.

Conclusion

Climbing equipment provides many benefits for children. Playing on it helps pupils to be happier and healthier, have better social and learning skills, increased independence and a more positive approach to challenge and risk.

To give your pupils more opportunity for active outdoor play, take a look at our wide range of school playground climbing equipment.

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Winter is Coming – How to Make your Playground Winter Friendly

The big disadvantage of having long summer holidays is that much of the school year covers autumn and winter when its wet, windy and cold. When it comes to break times and lunchtimes, bad weather can bring misery to staff and students. However, while we cannot control the seasons, there are things that schools can do make their playgrounds winter friendly. Here we’ll look at the issues and offer some useful solutions.

The problem with winter

From October to March, lunch and break times can be a problem for schools. If its chilly, children are often turfed out into the playground where they huddle like penguins, seeking shelter from the cold wind. When it's raining, the newly seeded grass gets turned into a quagmire and the whole school gets covered in a layer of soil and dust. Then the miserably damp children come back in, steaming up the windows and complaining about being wet. Perhaps worst of all are the times when outdoor play is cancelled and both the children and the teachers are trapped in their classrooms. On days like these, the kids are hyper, behaviour is poor and even the staff get irritable. When this happens, teaching and learning is a struggle.

There are other disadvantages, too. Children do not get the benefit of exercise when they are hunched over from the cold; and when they get kept in, they miss out on the natural daylight they can get exposed to and the vitamin D it produces. All this can have a negative effect on their physical and mental wellbeing.

Making playgrounds more winter friendly

While there is no way to fully protect your playground from the elements, there are quite a few things you can do which will make it a better place for your students and increase the number of days that you can let them out to play.

Provide them with shelter

Providing pupils with protection from the rain and the worst of the wind can help reduce the number of days you need to keep them indoors and help make them more comfortable while they are outside.

You are not going to need shelter for every child as there are always going to be those who’ll be happy playing out regardless of whether it’s a heatwave or a force nine gale. However, for those who spend their winter breaktimes wandering along corridors, hiding in doorways or loitering by the toilets, a covered shelter can be a game changer. A great example is our octagonal shelter with solid sides, decking and seating. While it still gives exposure to the fresh air, it keeps the rain off and provides some protection from the cold and wind while giving children somewhere to sit, chat and even move about.

Other alternatives include shaded pergolas with seating and planters, pitched-roofed shelters, sail shade shelters and play huts.

Generate warmth

The simplest way to stop pupils getting cold outside is to get them moving. Inspiring children to participate in physical activity during the coldest days will help them build up body heat and keep warm. The more physical they are, the warmer they’ll become.

There are many activities that can be used to do this, but perhaps the best are sports and games. If your playground is lacking inspiration, then an affordable and quick solution can be to install a range of playground markings. Sports markings for football, netball and basketball, for example, are great ways to get large groups of children running around and keeping warm. You can complement these with a selection of fun and games markings that small groups can use to play together. With everything from roadway markings to hopscotch, there are lots of ideas to choose from. Of course, if you have a bigger budget available, you can provide a much wider selection of activities using trim trail obstacle courses, climbing frames, play towers and climbing walls.

The other big advantage besides keeping the children warm when outside, is that you are encouraging them to remain active at a time of year when they perhaps get the least chance to do so.

Keeping things clean

Wet weather invariably means mud and dirt getting everywhere. Children’s uniforms get caked in it and those highly polished school corridors get covered with a layer of dull, brownish silt by the end of the day. And as everyone who works in a school knows, it’s silt that loves to smear itself over clothing: cross your legs, sit on the floor, drop your coat – you get covered in it.

The main cause of mud coming into school is wet soil that sticks to the soles of shoes – particularly those with grip marks where the soil doesn’t get wiped off.

The ideal solution to prevent soil coming into schools is to replace your grassed playing areas with artificial grass. Doing this has several benefits: surfaces don’t get muddy, so you can use them all year round and children don’t bring the mud into school. Nor do they get covered in it if they slip. There’s no need to have the grass regularly mowed and reseeded either.

If your budget doesn’t extend to artificial grass, or you just prefer real grass, then another alternative would be to use grass matting, which is a safe and durable way to protect grass from erosion due to heavy use and which prevents contact with the actual soil underneath.

Conclusion

If you are looking for ways to make your playground more winter friendly for your pupils, hopefully, the suggestions given here can help. With shelters to protect them from the elements, a selection of playground markings or activity equipment to get them warmed up and cleaner surfaces to play on, you’ll be able to make break and lunchtimes more fun and increase the number of days your pupils get the chance to play outside.

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