Top 10 Playground Markings for EYFS

A great deal of the learning that takes place during early years education is done through play. This post will look at a selection of playground markings that are both fun for young children to play on but which also help them with a range of basic skills. Covering literacy, numeracy, time, direction, weather and road safety, here are our top ten playground markings for EYFS.

1. Alpha Clock Target

The multi-purpose alpha clock target is ideal for taking literacy and numeracy outdoors to help children learn the alphabet, basic numbers and the position of the hours on an analogue clock. It can also be used for throwing practice and to develop coordination skills.

There are numerous games that can be devised for this marking, such as standing in the centre and throwing bean bags towards a letter or getting children to run around the circle and when someone shouts for them to stop, they call out the number they land on.

2. Mathematical Number Grid

Installing a mathematical number grid playground marking is a great way to help children learn to count up to 100 and discover the relationship between numbers. There are lots of games that can be played on the grid, such as stepping up in multiples, standing on odds and evens, counting on using dice – you can even chalk on some snakes and ladders.

3. The Offset-Stepper

The offset stepper combines traditional hopscotch with number learning and physical agility. Children can count up to and down from 12 in single or multiple numbers, having to hop, jump, step and side shuffle as they go.

4. Phonetic Spots

Using some of the most common phonetic letter combinations, the fun phonetic spots marking is a great way to begin to teach basic reading skills. Just get the children to land on a spot and shout out the correct sound. Once they have mastered individual sounds, stand on two spots and combine them. For more advanced games, stand on a spot and say a word that has the sound in it.

5. Roadway

The roadway is a large marking that is excellent for getting children participating in role play as it creates a road system in your playground that children can take journeys on. It can include parking bays, a petrol station, a roundabout, shops and zebra crossings.

Aside from creative play, it is also useful for teaching road safety. Children can learn the safe places to cross a road, how to stop, look and listen and find out which side of the road traffic travels on - all in the safety of the playground.

6. Weather Symbols & Days

winter weather

Featuring the days of the school week (Monday to Friday) and the weather symbols for sunshine, rain, cloud and snow, the weather playground marking is a good way to help children to recognise the spellings of the days of the week and learn about different types of weather.

7. Compass Multi-marking

The compass multi-marking enables children to learn the basic compass points, north, south, east and west, together with the more advanced directions, NE, SE, SW and NW. The compass points are installed accurately in playgrounds so that children can use them to learn about their environment. For example, they can discover that the canteen is to the north and the exits are to the south. They can even use it to look at things like the way the sun travels through the sky during the day or to find clues in a playground treasure hunt.

8. Compass Hopscotch

Another compass variation is the compass hopscotch marking. Aside from learning the compass points, pupils can practice their knowledge by being asked to follow directions as they play the game, for example, start at the south, then head west.

9. Footwork Vowels

This literacy-focused marking is designed to help children learn the vowels, a key skill needed when they start to read. It can be used for games where children call out a vowel so that their friends have to stand on it or for teachers to call out vowels in rapid succession so that the children have to step quickly to keep up. This is also a great marking to help with balance and agility.

10. Letter Stepper

The letter stepper marking lets children follow the alphabet all the way from A to Z and learn different colours as they go. As a stepper, it’s good for developing balance and can be used in a range of fun ways that combine literacy and numeracy, for example, step on every second letter and call it out or find the letters of your name and count how many letters it has.

Conclusion

As you can see, our top ten EYFS playground markings don’t just provide opportunities for lots of fun, they can also help children learn about letters, sounds, numbers, directions, time, days of the week and weather types. In addition, they can be used to bring on physical skills such as balance, coordination and agility as well as fostering social skills as the pupils learn to play together.

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Can Outdoor Play Really Accelerate Pupil Progress?

While we aren’t suggesting that schools cut down curriculum time in favour of extended breaks, recent research has shown that providing an outdoor environment that enables pupils to participate in active play can have a positive effect on their academic progress. In this post, we’ll look at what your school can do to help your pupils.

Fitter children progress better

According to Public Health England, there is a correlation between the fitness of a pupil and their academic progress. Those who are aerobically active tend to produce better academic results than their inactive classmates. Being able to increase aerobic fitness in a cohort of students, therefore, is a good way to help them progress better in their studies.

One of the problems facing schools is the lack of physical activity children do. With an over-fondness for screen time and lack of opportunity at home, few children get the hour of daily physical activity recommended for good heart health. However, schools can do things to encourage more active play on their own premises. One inexpensive solution is to install playground markings. There’s such a wide range to choose from that you’ll find something that will tempt even the most inert pupils to get moving. These include sports markings such as football, netball, tennis and basketball, training markings for ball and feet skills, plus a wide range of games, like hopscotch.

Getting children to boost their aerobic health means they’ll be fitter overall and more alert in lessons, helping them have more focus and energy to progress further.

Cut down on poor behaviour

The poor behaviour of a small number of pupils can affect the learning of the entire class and if this happens persistently, the long-term progress of all pupils can be held back. Finding adequate solutions to classroom behaviour can, therefore, help everyone achieve their targets. Here again, physical activity has been shown to have an influence, reducing disruptive behaviour and improving social relationships within the classroom. Key to this is finding ways of getting pupils not just to play actively but to do so together. Installing climbing frames and roleplay equipment, together with the sports markings mentioned above, is one way to encourage such group activities.

Develop problem-solving skils

Being able to solve problems is essential if children are to make progress in their studies, however, it is a skill that isn’t just acquired from sitting behind a desk. Problem-solving is something that can be learnt in the playground and transferred to more academic pursuits. By installing equipment such as Trim Trails, pupils will not only enjoy playing on these fun obstacle courses, they’ll also need to spend time solving the navigation problems they put in their way. What’s the best route? What’s the right way to get across a piece of equipment? How do I stop myself from falling off? Do I need speed or balance to complete this obstacle effectively?

Of course, as this is play, children see the challenge as fun and those who are averse to work will learn without feeling the pressures that they may do during lesson times. What’s even better about Trim Trails is that you can add interchangeable components, enabling you to provide children with a new set of problems to solve whenever you want.

Where's the proof?

Research carried out by Public Health England shows that pupils who take part in physical activity progress better academically. On average, those who took part regularly achieved GCSE exam marks that were between ten and twenty per cent higher than their less-active counterparts. That shows there is a significant gap in progress between those who are active and those who are not.

For schools, therefore, the message is clear. If you want pupils to make better progress, the playground can offer solutions that can work in tandem with your classroom initiatives. Getting pupils to play more actively can make them aerobically fitter, help them learn to solve problems, prevent disruption and keep them motivated and on task.

Indeed, independent research from Liverpool John Moores and Roehampton Universities has shown that in schools with outdoor playground equipment, 70% of pupils spent more time being moderately and vigorously active. And with such a wide range of playground equipment now available, schools can cater for the diverse interests of all their pupils.

Conclusion

With the constant pressure to improve pupil progress, many schools have put far more emphasis on the classroom than they have on the playground. The link between physical activity and academic performance, however, is an important reminder that the brain relies on the body if it is to perform at its best. Giving opportunities for fun, active play is one way to help boost progress while giving something back to the children who work so hard and under increasing pressure.

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5 Reasons Why Schools Should Install Artificial Grass

Real grass is great. It’s comfortable to sit on, easy to play on and ideal for sports. However, it has its drawbacks and for schools that like grass surfaces, artificial grass provides the same benefits but without any of the issues that grass causes. Need convincing? Then read on and we’ll explain why, for schools, artificial grass is better.

1. It’s less expensive to maintain

While we all love the smell of freshly cut grass, no-one likes it better than the company that gets paid to cut it. And grass needs cutting regularly, particularly in spring and summer and especially if you need it keeping short to play sports on.

Besides regular mowing, there’s also a need for regular maintenance. With hundreds of children running all over it every day, real grass gets worn away. You’ll find bare patches and unplanned footpaths appearing in the areas that are most heavily used. On top of that, there are issues caused by moss, weeds and periods of drought which can cause the grass to die off and need reseeding.

All of this maintenance can be expensive. Indeed, if mega-rich sports clubs have shifted to artificial grass because the natural variety is costly to maintain, then it’s certainly something that cash-strapped schools could benefit from.

Artificial grass doesn’t need cutting and is made from highly durable materials that last for years. Unlike natural grass, which gets worn away, it is designed for regular, heavy use.

2. It's cleaner

Artificial Grass - ESP Play

One of the big issues with real grass is that it needs soil to grow in. When soil mixes with rain and gets churned up by all those feet, the result is mud. Mud, unfortunately, gets everywhere. It sticks to children’s shoes and they trample it all through the school where it dries and forms a layer of dirt that blankets everything. That sparkling corridor that the cleaner polished the night before looks like it hasn’t seen water in years by the end of morning break.

The result of mud is children’s clothes getting dirty, PE lessons having to finish early so pupils can get cleaned up and the expense of having to clean the floors so regularly. Without mud, floors take less time to clean and this means schools could reduce cleaning costs over the year.

The advantage of artificial grass is that there is a self-draining barrier between the surface and the soil underneath which prevents mud from being formed; as a result, your school and your pupils will be cleaner.

3. An all-weather surface

The other disadvantage of mud is that it prevents children from playing on the grass after a downpour. Not only do the children get muddy feet but they are also liable to slip and injure themselves. Muddy pitches also put a stop to many PE activities, forcing teachers to abandon their plans and seek indoor alternatives, which isn’t good when they have a scheme of work to complete and there’s a shortage of available indoor space.

With artificial grass, this doesn’t need to happen. The lack of soil means It doesn’t get muddy, its self-draining properties prevent pools from forming and because it’s laid over an impact-absorbing layer, it doesn’t freeze rock solid in winter. Not only does this mean schools can get much more use out of artificial grass surfacing than from real grass; it also ensures that the surface is always usable, enabling them to stick to their plans, come rain or shine.

4. It's safer to use

Artificial grass is safer than real grass in a number of ways. One way is that it reduces allergies. Quite a few people have grass allergies, some are allergic to its pollen, others develop rashes just by touching it and there are those that are allergic to the moulds which are dispersed when grass is cut. Replacing real grass with artificial grass eradicates the causes of these allergic reactions.

As artificial grass has an impact-absorbing underlayer, it also reduces the chances of children being seriously injured if they fall or slip when at play. This makes it great as a surface onto which you can install other outdoor play equipment, such as climbing frames and Trim Trail obstacle courses.

The protective layer also prevents sharp stones or bits of glass that have been buried in the soil rising to the surface where they have the potential to cause injury. And if a pupil does have a cut or scrape, there won’t be any soil getting into the wound, reducing the chance of infection.

5. It always looks great

As a school, you always want your outdoor spaces to look inviting for your pupils to play on. While natural grass can look fantastic when it’s in good condition and has been recently trimmed, its appeal can waver. It can turn brown, grow mossy, develop bald-patches, become unkempt and look like a wet weekend at Glastonbury Festival.

Artificial grass keeps its looks all year round, perfectly green and immaculately trimmed, making it look inviting for the children and appealing to visitors.

Conclusion

As you can see, while there are lots of reasons to love real grass, if you are a school, artificial grass might be more of a fit. It’s cheaper to maintain, cleaner and safer. What’s more, it can be used in all weathers and looks great all year round.

For more information about our range of artificial grass surfaces, check out our artificial grass page.

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4 Reasons to Change Your Playground Surfacing

A lot of schools still use traditional playground surfacing like asphalt or tarmac, however, over time and with constant use they degrade: edges crumble, busy pathways wear away and bare patches begin to appear. Surfacing materials like loose gravel and bark mulch also deteriorate. Paying for regular repairs and maintenance that can leave your playground looking like a patchwork quilt is not always the cost-effective solution. Modern playground surfacing uses materials that are safer, longer lasting and better value for money. In this post, we’ll look at four reasons why it might be time to change your playground surfacing.

1. Your current playground surface is a safety hazard

Safeguarding has to be at the top of any school’s list of priorities and this includes making sure your playground doesn’t put children at risk. If there are obvious signs that your current surface is becoming defective, it may become a safety hazard.

Defective surfacing can cause children to trip or slip, risking broken bones or head injuries. Loose gravel is not only slippery but can also be sharp and break the skin. Materials like bark mulch, which is biodegradable, can cause splinters when it begins to break down and if it is harbouring fungi or unsavoury microbes, could cause an infection.

Besides the risk of injury, there are financial implications, too. As many schools will testify, there are quite a lot of parents today who will head straight to the solicitors if their child gets hurt in the playground. A tumble on the tarmac often results in a significant settlement.

2. Playground maintenance has become expensive

Another reason you may want to change your playground surfacing is if you are continually having to spend a lot of money on its upkeep. Resurfacing tarmac or asphalt doesn’t come cheaply, even if you are only patching specific areas. If this is happening constantly, that money could be more wisely spent on a safer and longer lasting solution that won’t need so much maintenance. The same applies to re-gravelling or replenishing bark mulch.

There are hidden savings to be made from investing in a better surface too. For example, a safer surface may reduce your liability insurance costs. You may also cut down the number of hours that your caretaking staff need to spend looking after your surfacing. Bark, for example, get easily blown around creating potential slip hazards. By replacing it, it won’t need to be swept up every time it gets a little windy.

3. Better surfaces, cleaner schools

Many traditional surfaces can be dirty, especially in the rain; particularly areas surfaced with grass or soil which become muddy after they have been trampled on by a swarm of school kids. Of course, when the bell goes, all this dirt gets brought into school.

Mud left by one child quickly becomes a trip hazard for those following behind, especially on stairs or tiled flooring. You also end up with a completely messy floor, littered with pale grey footprints, that your caretaking staff will need to spend time cleaning and polishing after school. Of course, when the mud dries, all those tiny bits of grit are going to scrape the shine off your newly varnished wooden floors, shortening the amount of time the varnish will last. If you have carpets, they too are going to get dirty and will need cleaning more regularly.

Modern surfacing is much cleaner and whilst it won’t fully eradicate every piece of dirt that gets brought into school, it can help reduce it, meaning less wear and tear of your indoor flooring and less time needed to keep it clean.

4. Your playground is a dreary space

When children play together, especially in larger numbers, there is more opportunity for them to develop important social skills. Many of the markings used for sports and games will help pupils with key skills such as turn taking, patience, respect for others and empathy.

At the same time, children will need to interact in order to play together or when asking other children for a turn on a game. This will help them become better negotiators and improve their ability to resolve disputes. It can also lead to new friendships.

Is it time for a change?

Great playground surfacing can revitalise your outdoor environment. Surfaces can be created from a range of materials and colours and come with a wide range of playground markings that create sports pitches and games areas.

There are several examples of modern surfacing that are worth a mention. A highly popular solution is Wetpour surfacing. Wetpour is a soft surface that is very effective in reducing injury from falls. It’s ideal for putting under climbing equipment or for areas where children are involved in active play. What’s more, it’s long lasting, colourful and can be created in a range of intricate designs.

If you currently use bark mulch on your play areas, a safer, cheaper and longer lasting alternative is to use rubber mulch. Made from recycled tyres, this coated, shredded rubber comes in a range of colours and can even look like natural bark. However, unlike bark, it’s bound together, so it doesn’t get blown away, can’t get chucked around and doesn’t rot.

If you need a hard surface, then a much better alternative to asphalt or tarmac is resin bound gravel, a highly attractive surface with a smooth finish using naturally coloured stones bonded together using resin. Tough, long-lasting and available in a range of colours, it’s the ideal hard surface.

If you want grassy areas that don’t get muddy, there are two other surfacing options. You can cover existing grassed areas in grass matting or you can replace your natural grass with artificial grass. This is great for sports areas and comes with the advantage of never needing to be watered, fed or mowed.

For more information about all our surfaces, check out our playground surfacing page.

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6 Types of Playground Flooring Available for Schools

Playground Flooring from ESP Play

Playground flooring is becoming a requirement in school playgrounds more and more.

Today, we have a much greater choice available to us when it comes to playground flooring. There are surfaces which are much safer to play on and which offer a wider range of playground activities. With the right flooring in place, a playground can be transformed into something far more useful for outdoor lessons, PE and break times.

Here are six alternative types of playground flooring you can now choose from.

1. Artificial Grass and Sports Surfacing

Artificial grass can turn your playground from a dull grey desert into a green oasis overnight. It creates a far more pleasant and inviting outdoor space for children to enjoy and, being softer than tarmac or asphalt, it is safer for children to play on. It is ideal for warmer days too, as it is somewhere where children can sit and lay on in the sunshine – something they don’t normally do on uncomfortable and dirty surfaces like Tarmac or asphalt.

Artificial grass also makes great sports surfacing. You can install playground markings on the artificial grass to create a wide range of sports pitches and courts. This gives children the incentive to get involved in physical activities during break times and gives you extra PE facilities at the same time.

Unlike real grass, the artificial variety doesn’t need to be mowed, weeded or reseeded. It doesn’t get muddy, either, so can be used all year round – and it will last for many years.

2.Block Paving

Block paving is a great way to create safe, slip resistant pathways on your playground. It is ideal for use in high-traffic areas, for demarcating boundaries between different sections of your playground and for creating decorative features using its contrasting textures and patterns.

Long lasting and very hard wearing, block paving is an affordable and practical way to safely manage movement in your outdoor spaces.

3. Grass Matting

If you are lucky enough to have a grassed playground area, you’ll know that there can be times when it’s not ideal to let children play on it. It can get slippery and muddy when wet and worn down by overuse. Luckily, there is an excellent solution.

When you lay rubber grass matting over your existing grassed areas, it enables it to be used all year round. Grass matting reduces slippage in the wet, prevents children getting muddy when they land directly on the soil and stops the grass wearing away. The matting can be mowed over just like normal grass, making maintenance easy.

Grass matting is an economical way to improve the grassed areas of your playground, making them safer, letting them be used all year round and reducing the need for reseeding.

4. Resin Bound Gravel

A modern alternative to tarmac or asphalt, resin bound gravel can be used to cover playgrounds or pathways. Made from a combination of aggregate gravel and polyurethane resin, this playground flooring provides a hard and durable surface which, because of its porous properties, is resistant to forming puddles or staying wet on the surface. It also makes a high-quality, easy to use surface for wheelchair access.

5. Rubber Mulch

Available in a variety of colours, rubber mulch is a soft but solid playground flooring material made from recycled rubber pieces bonded together by high-performance polyurethane. The finished result gives an attractive appearance that looks like a natural bark chip surface but, unlike real bark, is fixed in place.

Rubber mulch creates a softer surface that is ideal for playgrounds as it cushions falls, reducing the potential for injury when children are playing.

6. Wetpour Surfacing

Wetpour surfacing is similar to rubber mulch in that recycled rubber is bonded together to create a soft, impact absorbent playground surface. The difference is that wetpour surfaces are smooth and so are more useful for playing games and sports. In addition, a wetpour surface can be used in conjunction with playground markings to create safe and durable sports courts and pitches.

Available in a wide choice of colours, wetpour playground flooring makes it is possible to create your own patterns and designs using a mixture of different colours. This type of surface, common in many public playgrounds and play areas, is ideal for schools. It is free-draining, maintenance free, highly durable and wheelchair friendly. It also makes the perfect surface for schools wishing to install trim trails, climbing frames and other outdoor playground equipment.

Conclusion

As you can see from this post, the choice of playground flooring available to schools today enables you to create far safer environments which are more attractive to play on, can be used for a wider range of sports and activities and which need little or no maintenance. For more details, see our playground flooring and surfacing page.

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