Number one son’s school has a new feature in the playground. The kids are incredibly excited about it; number one son has talked about nothing else for weeks. It’s a shipping container full of ….junk! Yes that’s it: lengths of material, cable holders, plastic boxes, bits of rope, old keyboards, netting… the list goes on.
The school opened it up one day after school for parents and adults to see what it was all about and ‘have a go’. Wow! As soon as the container was opened up the kids were straight in there. They dragged each other around in plastic boxes, made dens, made transportation from big cable holders. One of the stand-out moments for me was to see a ‘Royal Wedding’ taking place with the bride swathed in a beautiful long piece of purple material, her bridesmaid close at hand to rescue the extremely long train as they paraded around the playground looking every bit the royal couple on their happy day.
The whole experience reminded me of my childhood of den-building, imagining I was riding everywhere on horseback and generally creating new exciting worlds with my friends.
They are called Scrapstore Playpods (www.playpods.co.uk) and they were birthed in Bristol. Over the past few years there has been some significant study, initially in the playgrounds of just a few schools. The project showed that these giant toy boxes brought with them better playground behaviour, incredible creativity, great imaginative play amongst many other benefits.
Have we sanitized children’s play too much in recent years? Are we over-health and safety conscious and have therefore restricted our children’s playtime? I haven’t got the answers to these questions but I believe opportunities for creativity and imagination are not optional extras for children, in my opinion they are essential so it’s great to see innovations like this. I hope it’s rolled out in schools up and down the country.
In the meantime give your kids a length of material and a couple of crowns and allow them to imagine they are a Prince and Princess just in time for Saturday’s big day!