How to Turn a Boring School Yard into an Adventure Playground

Teacher’s put a lot of time and effort into making their school’s environment exciting and inspirational. Walls and corridors are covered in highly colourful displays, there’s always artwork on show and classrooms are equipped with the latest resources. For many schools, however, this ends at the door to the playground. In this post, we’ll give you some ideas of how to turn your boring school yard into an exciting adventure playground.

Boring playgrounds cause problems

Come break time, too many pupils are put out to pasture on nothing more than a drab rectangle of grey tarmac with only the wind to inspire them. It’s no surprise then, that lots of primary kids ask to stay in and help the teacher and the many secondary students mooch around in corridors staring at their phones.

Without things to do, children get bored and frustrated. This can lead to poor behaviour during breaks and cause problems in the lessons that follow. It also means that many children don’t get any exercise during the school day. After being sat at a desk for a few hours, you want them to run around and burn off a bit of energy: it’s good for both their physical and mental health. Instead, many children just stand around waiting for the bell, eating crisps and sipping sugary drinks.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The outside of your school can be as inspirational as the inside, helping children to be healthier, more creative and more motivated for their next lesson. Here are some ideas about how you can achieve this in your school.

1. Get them playing team sports again

You don’t need to spend a fortune to inspire kids to play team sports during break times. Installing playground markings on your school yard surface marks out pitches and courts for a wide range of team games that kids love to play. There’s football, futsal (5-a-side football), netball, rounders, cricket, tennis and basketball to choose from. You can even get nets and goals to equip them fully. Once installed, you just need to put out a selection of bats and balls for the children to use.

The great thing about installing playground marking for team games is that it encourages lots of children to participate. You can also use the markings for PE lessons.

2. Drive them up the wall – literally!

We’ve all had lessons where the kids were ‘climbing the walls,’ – well, now this can happen in a good way. At ESP Play, we supply a selection of climbing walls specially designed for children to play on. Not only are these are great for getting pupils active, they are also good for helping kids challenge themselves and for developing resilience. Above all, they are fun to climb on and a great way to encourage physical activity.

3. Build an obstacle course

When it comes to playground design, one of the features that most schools want to install is some form of obstacle course. One of the best ways to do this is with a Trim Trail. The big advantage of a Trim Trail is that you can choose your own elements. There are lots to choose from, too: balance beams, climbing nets, scramble under nets, duck and dive posts, striding posts, jungle bars, wobbly bridges, tight ropes… the list goes on.

For schools with limited budgets, Trim Trails offer you the potential to build your adventure playground up over time, perhaps adding an extra element or two each academic year. You don’t need to buy everything at once.

For versatility, Trim Trails also come with easily interchangeable features, giving you the ability to adapt your playground equipment for different purposes or different groups. It also means you can give children lots of different challenges using the same pieces of outdoor equipment.

Kids love to play on Trim Trails, which is why you see them in so many public parks. Now you can have them in your own playground and inspire even more children to play.

4. Max up the fun with Freeflow

Our Freeflow obstacle courses have evolved through years of working with teachers and student councils to create the ultimate outdoor playground equipment. With a wide range of modules to choose from, you can create a bespoke adventure playground that meets the needs of your school and contains your pupils’ favourite obstacles.

Not only are our Freeflow courses irresistible to play on; they also help your pupils develop strength, stamina, coordination and team building skills. They can completely revolutionise your playground and increase your pupils’ enjoyment of your outdoor space.

5. Don’t forget to add bells and whistles

To add variety to your playground design, consider using outdoor play equipment for less sporty children to use during break times. For example, we have a range of creative outdoor equipment including musical instruments, stages, and structures which can be used to encourage roleplaying adventures. We’ve also got sandpits and water play equipment, nature equipment and lots of games ranging from hopscotch to chess.

Conclusion

Developing your outdoor space can have lots of benefits for your school. In enhances pupils’ enjoyment and can have a positive impact on their physical health and mental wellbeing. It can also help improve behaviour and progress in the classroom.

As you can see from this article, there are lots of options open to you to turn your boring school yard into an exciting adventure playground. If you want to discuss what we can do for you, give us a call on 01282 43 44 45.

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How Schools with a Small Playground Can Still Offer a Wide Range of Sports

Not every school has an abundance of outdoor space which can be utilised for sports and for those that have nothing more than a small playground or a slither of greenery, there can be real issues for providing sporting opportunities for their pupils. Luckily, however, there are practical and affordable solutions that help you to make the most of the limited space available. In this post, we’ll take a look at the best ones on offer.

The problems of having limited outdoor space for sport

Schools sports are important to young people. It's where most pupils learn how to play a range of different sports, some of which they may end up playing well into their adult years. They help to keep children fit and healthy, especially in these modern times when children don’t get to play out like previous generations. And then there is the pleasure of taking part in the great tradition of inter-school sports competitions. All of these things are limited and sometimes even denied to children at schools with lack of adequate outdoor space.

But whilst we can’t all have Eton’s 7200ft, £17 million, Olympic rowing lake, there are ways which those schools deprived of space can still provide a range of sports for their students.

Playground markings for school sports

Playground markings provide the easiest, most practical and most affordable solution to schools looking for ways to offer more sports to their pupils. At ESP Play, we provide playground markings for a wide range of team sports including football, futsal (a version of 5-a-side football), tennis, netball, rounders, cricket and basketball.

All these can be used on a typical playground hard surface, are inexpensive to install and are hard wearing. This means you can double up your school playground as your outdoor sports venue and provide your pupils with pitches to play on during break times.

For those schools that are seriously short of space, the ultimate solution can be found in our multicourt markings. A multicourt consists of futsal, netball and basketball markings overlaid on a single court. The markings for each sport are in a different colour, making it easy for pupils to identify the right ones. This gives schools the ability to utilise the same space for three separate sports.

Playground markings can make your playground work for you much more effectively. They enable you to teach a wider range of sports without the need for extra space or for huge investment.

Equipping your new sports area

Of course, if you want to offer these sports, you will need to equip them. At ESP play, we provide the equipment, too. We supply netball and basketball nets and also a goal unit with combined football goal and shooting net – ideal for a multicourt and for general playground use. We even have a recessed goal unit. In addition, we also provide ball walls, which are ideal for cricket and for football practice.

Sport-friendly playground flooring

If you want to improve your playground design even more, you can always replace all or part of your existing playground surface with sport-friendly playground flooring. For example, you can install artificial grass together with your desired sports markings. This would provide you with a far superior playing surface that was good enough for interschool tournaments and safer for the children to play physical sports on.

Artificial grass surfacing also requires much less maintenance than a real grass pitch. There’s no mowing, no replanting and no mud. Once it is installed, it will stay in peak condition and with its hardwearing materials will last for years. Many of our clients have used artificial grass to convert part of their existing playground for sports use whilst still granting children access during break times.

Artificial grass is not the only solution for an improved playground sports surface. Wetpour surfacing is another popular choice for many schools. Made from recycled tyres, it is a long lasting, soft surface that’s highly effective in reducing injuries through falling. This makes it ideal for use on pitches and courts where physical sports are played. There certainly won’t be as many grazed knees or kids going home with holes in their trousers and tights as there would be on a tarmac surface.

The other benefit of a wetpour surface is that it can be coloured. So, you can colour it green to give it a more professional sports colour – or opt for something less traditional such as using your school’s colours. The choice is yours.

Conclusion

With playground markings, outdoor playground equipment and a range of safe and hardwearing playground surfaces to choose from, it is easier than ever to for schools with limited outdoor space to provide the facilities for a range of sports. It’s no longer necessary to find extra space to do this, you can simply convert your existing space and use it for both sporting activities and normal playground use.

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Another Happy Customer

ESP have just completed a playground project at St John the Baptist CE VA Primary School in Essex.  The school and the kids are absolutely delighted with the finished product and have gone out of their way to tell everyone about it.  Tim Cook, the school procurement officer, made a telephone call our Managing Director to explain firsthand how delighted he was with the quality of the products, the efficiency of the installation, the standard of the ESP representative and the overall service and experience.

The school has had a brand new trim trail / climbing frame to fit an existing area.

The headteacher of the school email the ESP representative and said:

I am hoping that a photo of Mick, Mark and Elvis is going to attach its self properly! They have been absolutely fantastic! The children gave them a big shout out this morning and three cheers! I will sort out the other photos for you and get some more done when the edging is finished etc. Sorry note is short ~ I will write properly very soon as very impressed with team and I think they were too with our kids! – Many many thanks, Amanda

At ESP we are delighted that we yet another happy customer!

 

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Army of 20,000 Volunteers Needed To Boost Outdoor Play

Source – BBC News – By Judith Burns

An army of 20,000 volunteers will be needed for a new initiative to help children play safely outdoors, say campaigners. They will be asked to help build new playgrounds, staff existing ones, run play schemes and street parties. The government has given £2m to help local groups boost outdoor play in their communities. Campaign group Play England says children should be able to play outside after school or in the holidays.

The group’s director Catherine Prisk said: “Playing outside, chalking on the pavement. climbing trees and riding your bike are simple pleasures that many of today’s children are missing out on. “Play is essential for children’s health and happiness now, and for making friends, building key skills for the future and for feeling you are part of a community.”

‘Never climbed a tree’

The money, from the Big Society Fund, will be divided among 17 local and national organisations dedicated to improving facilities and opportunities for play. The organisations will match fund the government award. According to Clare Colvine of Play England, part of the National Children’s Bureau, volunteers will be asked to help according to their skills. “For example one person could be asked to help dig a paddling pool but someone with good web skills might be asked to construct an online map of outdoor play facilities in particular area,” she said.

A growing body of research has found that today’s children do not have the same chances to play outside as their parents. For example a survey published by Play England last year showed that one third of today’s children had never built a den or climbed a tree. One in ten said they had never ridden a bike. Figures from the same survey, conducted by OnePoll last June, revealed that seven out of 10 families felt that taking their children to an outside space to play was a real treat.

Minister for civil society Nick Hurd said: “this is all part of our drive to create a bigger stronger society where people are empowered to make a difference to their community.” The 17 organisations involved have formed the Free Time Consortium which will not only improve play in their own areas but produce resource and information packs for other groups hoping to follow suit.

The consortium includes groups in Tyneside, Manchester, Birmingham, London, Milton Keynes and Plymouth

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University of Derby plans £9m sports facilities upgrade

Source – BBC News

The University of Derby is planning a £9m expansion of its sports facilities including a new sports hall. The complex would be located on the university’s Kedlestone campus and, if approved, would be finished in 2013.

Director of Derbyshire Sport David Joy said the university needed new facilities to compete with nearby sport centres like Loughborough. The facilities, including a two-storey pavilion, would be open to both students and the local community.

‘Outward looking’

A university spokesman said it was aiming to be in the top 50 universities for sport in the UK by 2017. “We are very much in the early stages of this project – considering the best ways in which to take our commitment to sport forward,” estates director Ian Willgoose said.

Mr Joy said: “The facilities at the university are really quite old now compared to lots of other universities in the region and further afield – they are really past their sell-by date.

“The university is very outward looking and clubs from outside the university already use the sports facilities at the Kedlestone campus and this is a logical extension of that.” Derby City Council has recently announced plans for a £20m sports and concert venue at Pride Park, including a velodrome, which is expected to open in 2014.

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