Playground stencils: Beyond “Busy, Happy, and Good”

Playground Stencils Enhance Learning

An ever constant mantra in teaching is “what is the learning objective?” Outdoor learning environment

I remember an experience where I was observing a 3rd-grade classroom. Students were digging in a sand bucket for a plastic dinosaur.

In California, dinosaurs are not in the 3rd grade course of study.

The students were “busy, happy and good” during a dinosaur lesson.

I know that dinosaurs are intriguing. However, my role as a principal was to see that students were “learning.”  The lesson might have fit into a larger study of habitats but this was neither the aim nor the objective of the lesson.

You get the idea. “Busy, happy and good kids” may not be learning.

The same philosophy can be applied to most school experiences so that we capitalize on the time students are learning.

Well designed playgrounds can contribute to and become an outdoor learning environment or even an extension of the classroom without structuring or mandating what children must do at recess. (We, at Peaceful Playgrounds, completely disagree with structured recess.)

Playground designs (like those offered by Peaceful Playgrounds) enhance the play environment. They provide unstructured opportunities for academic skill enhancement. Some markings present an opportunity to acquire motor skills, as well as, acquiring part of the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day. A distinct added bonus is that children are having fun!

Playground stencils enhance learning

Number Grid

Playground designs with an academic focus include the alphabet grid and number grid where children practice letters and spelling on the alphabet grid. The number grid is used for numeracy like adding or jumping the numbers in order.

Some designs that help with motor skill development are the midline jumping grid, and the skipping grid. The midline-jumping grid is a lead-up activity to jump rope

which teaches controlled and rhythmic jumping. The skipping grid teaches students the step-hop sequence and provides visual cues which help some students to understand both the foot pattern and the rhythm.

Another impo