Today I worked with a Year 1 and had a great day! After a long gap since working with the children (I think the last - and the first time - was in November) it was exciting to see how much they remembered. I had worked with the class and they remembered the aliens and different contraptions that they had conjured up. They remembered drawing on the long roll of paper.
So, we started by talking about the playground and how it was up to them about how it might change. They knew that the shelter needed to be moved, but that was about it. They were really up for coming up with new ideas and were bubbling with ideas and excitement. I showed them slides that Alison and I had collected and was superbly impressed with their concentration and response to the images. They loved the tall buildings, with ladders up to them; the wavy building; the Yoyoi Kusama dotty room and came up with their own ideas.
They drew their ideas, developing their thoughts as they drew, chatting through the different elements. Some of the children reverted to thinking about swings and things again (standard playground fayre) and my heart groaned, but as we talked more these ideas become less and less important. The children were excited that they could take things that they knew and liked and then make them even better; this was all about letting their imaginations run wild. One of them drew some bushes, saying he would like more bushes, and also commented on the fact that there are always needles in bushes.
We went outside to look at the playground and to make sense of what they were drawing and where it would go. We looked at the green space that they never go in and I asked them what they could see. Despite there being two willow dens they noticed everything but them, including a plastic ball. They said they would love to go in there - they can't at the moment. And we smelt the rosemary; they were amazed at the smell and the idea that plants could smell so strong seemed to be a new thing for most of them.
And the afternoon was taken up with making. The teacher said that this would be their first experience of making 3-D objects, and of using tape and glue. That said they made amazing things and experimented with the different ways of fixing things. The stories that they told about the spaces that they had made are wonderful; a blue hill with a chair on so you can look out; a space rocket where you can hide and send out rockets; ladders to climb; slides to slide down; high spaces for quiet conversations; hills and windows; doors and cupboards; tunnels and holes.
So, how do we take on all these ideas for the new playground. Alison and I have talked about the different elements which came from us working with the 2 classes. I hope that we will be able to work with the designer who will create a framework to transform the landscape of the playground (physically and metaphorically) with hills and tunnels and spaces. Then it would be wonderful to work with the children and teachers to explore new and innovative ways to make these spaces 'grow' - to add the dens, hidey-holes, space-ships, ladders, treehouses, discos and stages that the children are talking about.