Playground stencils: Beyond “Busy, Happy, and Good”.
When I was a principal, I remember an experience while 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. Sure the students were
“busy, happy and good” during a dinosaur
lesson. But when measured against third-grade
learning outcomes this activity clearly
falls short. 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 this approach.)
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!