Practical Solutions to Help Schools Teach PE in the Playground

For schools with limited outdoor space, it can be difficult to find the room to have a playground and somewhere dedicated to teaching PE. However, there are solutions and these come from turning your playground into a multi-use space that can be permanently equipped for both PE and play. In this post, we’ll look at a number of the possible solutions you can use.

Starting from the ground up

When planning your multi-use outdoor playground/PE space, you need to consider the ways the surface will be used during both lessons and break times. You obviously want something which will be safe for all kinds of activities and which lends itself to the wide number of activities you may wish to teach.

There are a number of possible playground surfacing solutions here. One of the most popular options is wetpour surfacing which gives a cushioned rubber surface that protects against injury but still has the necessary firmness to play all kinds of sports. Alternatively, you can opt for artificial grass which is ideal for sports and never needs cutting.

Defining the sports pitches and courts

Once you have established the best type of playground surfacing for your needs, the next stage of the process is to look at the type of sports your PE curriculum covers. If possible, you should try and dovetail this to match the kinds of sports your pupils will to want to play during breaktimes. Finding common ground here, will enable you to provide facilities which children will get the most benefit from.

After making your decision, you can then select the necessary playground markings to have installed. There is a wide variety to choose from and they are all suitable for the surfaces mentioned above and can also be installed on your existing hard surfaced playground. Here at ESP Play, we can provide the markings for football, futsal (five-a-side football), netball, rounders, basketball, tennis and cricket. For those particularly short of space, it is possible to create a multi-sports area by overlaying markings for different sports using different colours.

These markings enable PE staff to teach these sports whilst letting children have the fun of playing them during break times.

Choose playground markings for skills training

There is also a wide range of markings available for teaching important physical skills. These can be used for improving balance, endurance, coordination, footwork, hurdles, and a range of ball skills. Our ‘Famous Five’ multi-skills markings are a particular favourite amongst PE teachers.

Equip your playground

After selecting your markings, you can then proceed to equip your multi-use playground for your selected sports. This sports equipment includes goals (with nets or recesses), basketball and netball hoops. In addition, there is multi-sports equipment, such as our combined football - hoop units which are ideal for football, five-a-side, hockey, netball and basketball.

There is also a range of equipment that can be used for training and even for additional sports. These include freestanding ball catchers, ball walls for practicing football, tennis and cricket, and a range of colourful wall targets. There are even climbing walls.

Add features for developing strength and stamina

A key purpose of PE is to develop the physical fitness of your pupils. At the same time, we all want to encourage pupils to be more active during breaktimes. One of the ways to achieve both these aims is to add an outdoor gym section to your playground.

At ESP Play, we have the ideal solution in the AllGo+ Gym. This is a safe to use, outdoor gym that uses body weight only to help pupils develop their strength and stamina. It’s ideal for fitness classes, circuit training and for children to use during their free time. It can also be hired out to local fitness groups.

The equipment provided in the AllGo+ range includes monkey bars, circle steps, press up bars, leg risers, flat and inclined sit-up benches, step up stations and fast feet floor markings.     

Curriculum resources

Of course, if you are developing your playground to use for outdoor PE, you may also need some curriculum resources as well. The resources currently available include a range of interchangeable activity boards. You can choose from a plain whiteboard or ones which are designed for specific activities, such as yoga, dance, movement, skills keywords and a scoreboard.

Conclusion

As you can see, if your short of space for PE and need to use your playground, it is possible to do so. What’s more, equipping your PE space in the right way can make a huge difference to the range of activities your pupils can do during breaktimes. This can help motivate them to become much more active and healthier whilst having fun at the same time.

Hopefully, the ideas here will help you understand what you can do in your playground. Here at ESP Play, we have everything you need to create your multi-use PE area/playground from the ground up. For more information, take a look at our sports equipment.

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Best Outdoor Playground Equipment for Schools

UK school playgrounds have undergone something of a revolution in the last few years. Gone are the days when children were hoofed out on to dull asphalted yards with nothing more to entertain them than a ball and a skipping rope.

Today, schoolyards are far more vibrant and exciting, and this is all possible because of the wide range of playground equipment available, including different varieties of surfacing, playground markings, play equipment and even resources to create exciting outdoor classrooms.

So, if your school playground still looks like a throwback to the middle of the last century, as in the 1940s image above, we hope these products will give you an idea of how you can make yours fit for the 21st-century child.

Safest playground flooring

Traditionally, school playgrounds are surfaced with asphalt or tarmac. Whilst these are hardy surfaces, their hardness can lead to health and safety risks such as cuts, bumps and grazes. During snowy or icy weather, they can also become very slippery, putting pupils and staff at risk of more serious injury. If you intend to modernise your playground and are considering climbing equipment, hard surfaces create a risk for those who may fall.

Today, there is a range of different playground surfaces to choose from and it is possible to create different zones each with a different type of surface. For safety, however, the ideal solution would be to install wetpour surfacing. This soft surfacing solution is made from resin bound recycled tyre crumbs and, while firm enough to walk and play on, is able to cushion children when they fall, reducing the likelihood of injuries. Wetpour surfacing can also be installed in a variety of colours to give your playground a more exciting feel.

Most useful playground markings

There are a plethora of playground marking available and they can be used for all sorts of purposes: traditional games, literacy and numeracy development, sports skill training and much more.

Perhaps the most useful, and one of ESP Play’s most popular playground markings, are the multicourt markings. Ideal for small playgrounds, a multicourt creates three sports courts in one area: futsal (like 5-a-side football), netball and basketball. This is done by overlaying the markings for each sport in different colours.

A multicourt enables pupils to play fitness enhancing sports together during break and lunchtimes and can also be used during PE lessons or for inter-school competitions. Nets and goals are also available.

Healthiest sports equipment

Today’s schools are spoiled for choice when it comes to playground sports equipment, from full-sized artificial pitches to ball walls, basketball nets, soccer goals and even outdoor table tennis. However, if you want to take pupil fitness to the next level, then our outdoor AllGo+ Gym is a must.

The gym equipment, which uses body weight only, comprises a range of different pieces of which you can mix and match to suit your own needs. These include: press up and pull up bars, flat and inclined sit-up benches, monkey bars, leg risers, step markers and circles steps. Made from wood, they are less expensive, safer and easier to maintain than steel alternatives.

Best playground seating and furniture

playground seating

Outdoor seating and furniture have long been neglected in schools. When they’re installed, they give children places to sit, chat and eat lunch. When you buy picnic benches, you are also getting the seating resources for an outdoor classroom and reducing the pressure for space in the canteen.

If you want the ultimate outdoor seating solution, check out the ESP Play octagonal shelter with solid sides, seating and decking. This large shelter provides lots of seating, protection from the wind and rain and can be used for outdoor lessons and as a mini performance area as well as for use by children during break times.

Most exciting outdoor play equipment

Great outdoor play equipment needs to fulfil a number of roles. It should give children something entertaining to do, stimulate physical activity and encourage them to play together. At ESP Play, we have a variety of equipment types which do this. These include imaginative play equipment, sand and water play, trim trails, play towers, and climbing equipment.

Perhaps the most exciting new product we have is our Freeflow modular climbing equipment. Designed to excite and challenge students whilst keeping them active and healthy, it’s the ideal obstacle course for children and one which you can add to as and when your budget allows.

Conclusion

As you can see, outdoor playground equipment has come a long way and for good reasons. A well-equipped playground helps children stay active, learn new skills, develop relationships and enjoy school more. It can even have positive effects on mental health, behaviour and progress. In this sense, updating your playground is much more than giving kids something to do at break times, it’s an investment in their future wellbeing.

For more information about the wide range of outdoor playground equipment available at ESP Play, visit our homepage.

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The History of Playgrounds – Past, Present and Future.

Playgrounds are places designed for children to enjoy themselves in a carefree environment. A modern day playground is brimming with a wide range play equipment such as swings, slides, trim trails, play towers, sand boxes, jungle bars, playground markings and much more. Playgrounds help with the development of physical strength, fitness, co-ordination and flexibility; whilst providing a great place for interaction and enjoyment.

 

The introduction of playgrounds.

The idea of the playground originated in Germany and was invented as a platform for teaching children correct ways to play. The first purpose built children’s playground was built in 1859 in a park in Manchester, England. Although they had appeared before this period, playgrounds were properly introduced to the United States by President Roosevelt in 1907, of which he said:

“City streets are unsatisfactory playgrounds for children because of the danger, because most good games are against the law, because they are too hot in summer, and because in crowded sections of the city they are apt to be schools of crime. Neither do small back yards nor ornamental grass plots meet the needs of any but the very small children. Older children who would play vigorous games must have places especially set aside for them; and, since play is a fundamental need, playgrounds should be provided for every child as much as schools. This means that they must be distributed over the cities in such a way as to be within walking distance of every boy and girl, as most children can not afford to pay carfare.”

Playground Trends

London first witnessed the introduction of ’junk playgrounds’ in the period following World War II,  via the landscape architect and children’s rights campaigner Lady Allen of Hurtwood. She changed the name to ‘Adventure Playground’ in 1953; creating the National Playing Fields Association (now Fields in Trust), which saw the coordination of adventure playground projects throughout the country. These playgrounds were constructed from recycled ‘junk’ which the NPFA provided in order for children to design and create playgrounds in spaces such as bomb sites, building sites and wasteland.

Since then, playgrounds have seen many design trends and playground design can now be seen as a form of artistic architecture. A good design is considered: challenging but safe, aesthetically pleasing, cost effective and innovative. Materials that have been used and continue to be used include: wood, HDPE plastic, steel, aluminium, rope, rubber, artificial grass and many more. Most modern playground incorporate all these materials. Wood is currently very trendy due to its natural and decorative properties. It is common to see climbing frames, trim trails and swing posts using wood as a main material.

Laws of the modern playground

The 1980′s saw many laws and legislations come into play (no pun intended!) in order to avoid injuries to children. This area requires a blog of its own but a couple of important points include:

  • No sharp points or edges
  • Gaps must measure less than 3.5 inch or more than 9 inch.
  • Equipment more than 30inches high must be at least 9 foot appart.

These laws have helped prevent danger in playgrounds but designers are met with the challenge of making playgrounds equally fun whilst still being safe and legal. Good playground design requires concentration on both points in equal measures.

 

Playgrounds in Schools

School playgrounds incorporate playground equipment, playground markings and curriculum based items to provide children with an exciting learning zone.  ESP are experts in this area and are constantly researching, innovating and providing schools with products that incorporate the curriculum into the playground. Our multi-skills thermoplastic markings are a perfect example of building fundamental movement skills amongst children; meanwhile our science, maths and performance products use playground equipment to fuse activity and education into the outdoor play area.

In recent years there has a considerable increase in interest for the health and fitness of children; consequently schools have focussed more attention to the outdoor areas. This has resulted in more adventurous playgrounds becoming more common and it is not rare to see a school playground featuring far more than just a hopscotch and a netball court. Modern sports are encouraged in equal measures and our ‘Free:D’ Parkour for Schools range has proven very popular throughout the country.

The future of playgrounds?

Who knows what the future holds for playgrounds. In the UK, the ‘Olympic Legacy’ was supposed to increase sporting activity in schools, but the success rate only provided disappointment. Competitive sports have long been encouraged throughout the sporting curriculum. Maybe now is the time to let the children play and choose there own physical activities. We are strong believers that multi-skills playgrounds encourage skills that can be applied to every sporting activity; competitive or otherwise. Hopefully playgrounds of the future will offer more choice to children and more schools will encourage their children with more than just competitive sports. We offer the best of both worlds, join in with the fun!

 

By Matt Heap
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