While our installation team is busy throughout the year, during the summer holidays we’re often at our busiest as many schools look to have their new playgrounds ready before the academic year begins.
Whilst most schools believe that the best time to have their new playground installed is in the holidays, whether it’s because of health and safety concerns or any potential disruption to the school day, this isn’t often the case, and these concerns can be misplaced.
A term time installation can provide a really positive learning experience for the children for a number of reasons. Firstly, they can engage with the build process – they can watch their playground develop from start to finish, watching it grow, which in turn allows their excitement to build. Secondly, it allows our team to provide more information onsite to teachers who in turn can better understand the playground layout, educational benefits and encourage the children to go out and play.
St Bartholomew’s Primary Academy is a perfect example of where a term time installation can be turned into a beneficial and positive experience for the whole school. Here’s how it all works…
The Design Process
This is the first step in our development process.
During the design phase, we liaise closely with schools to understand their requirements and we design the ideal playground to suit their needs and wishes.
First, we contact the school via a phone call, where we collect the information relating to the project including but not limited to budget, time scale, and location within the school grounds. We then arrange a site visit where one of our Playground Consultants will measure the site and discuss its potential. Our team will provide advice to the school on the playground and dig a little deeper into the specific requirements, to make sure the school gets the most out of the space available.
Back in the office, our design team, alongside the Playground Consultant, will get to work producing a 3D design. This will give the staff at the school a realistic visual of what their playground will look like.
Whilst we are the experts in designing playgrounds, we want to ensure that the children are involved as much as possible in the design process as it can lead to some wonderful ideas. To do this, we send blank designs of the playground to the school for the children to engage with, so they can bring their ideas into the design. Schools can use this as an opportunity to have some fun with the children, making the designs part of a lesson plan. Once we get feedback, our team get to work making amendments where needed to make sure the school has their perfect playground.
Building at St Bartholomew’s
At St Bartholomew’s, the school wanted a large focal point for their playground. The design team proposed a large open-ended play tower with portholes and pully ropes with a sand pit. This initial design gave the children the idea of a pirate ship, so our design incorporated these ideas into an updated design.
Through discussion with the teaching staff, we learnt of the children’s love for their existing mound and tunnel. They expressed their wish for a larger mound and tunnel to be incorporated into the playground design.
Once the revised design proposal was completed, our Playground Consultant and Managing Director presented the new design to the school leaders and the children to gather any additional feedback and ensure it was exactly what the school had hoped for. The school were delighted with the new proposal and the children couldn’t wait for the project to get started!
The school decided they wanted the project completed as soon as possible, rather than wait for the next school holiday. We contacted the school and suggested some members of the design team come into school and give and talk to the staff and children during the installation to make the process a Live Learning Experience for the children.
What is a Live Learning Experience?
A Live Learning Experience is a safe and organised opportunity for the teachers and children to meet with the dbdplay team during the installation. During the talk, we explain the construction process and discuss the materials and tools we will be using. Children enjoy the chance to learn more about the project, the process and the safety measures needed to build their playground.
A Live Learning Experience can enhance children’s knowledge and understanding as they learn about Technology, People and Communities.
After the main talk segment, the children are guided outside in small groups with two members of staff, where they meet our Playground Consultant, Managing Director and Design Manager. Working in a small group, the children will have the chance to express their feelings and ask questions to the team.
What do children gain from this experience?
Pupils get a chance to see all of the tools that would be used for the project and, under close supervision, are given the chance to hold them. Here, our team can discuss their weight, texture, and properties which helps expand the children’s’ mathematic language as well as their creative and critical thinking skills.
There is also an opportunity for the children to touch and feel the ‘just like grass’ surfacing samples, which we describe as ‘soft’ ‘tickly’ and ‘hairy’. When looking at the equipment, we ask the children how they think each tool will be used, which engages their critical thinking skills and allows for a group interactive session.
We often ask questions of the class, such as ‘What materials do you think we had to order before we started working in your playground?’. The children are able to use the clues in front of them to answer this question, demonstrating many characteristics of effective learning.
Each child can have a turn exploring the electronic Moasure and how it measures their playground and site plan onto the computer. We explain that our team need to walk slowly to make sure it calculates the measurements correctly and that if they walked too fast, the Moasure would beep to slow them down. The children are then allowed to have a go which highlights their listening and attention skills, showing that they can follow instructions successfully.
The drone is often by far the most popular topic from the Live Learning Experience. The children are absolutely fascinated watching the drone take off and fly into the air. They enjoy being able to see the computer screen displaying their school grounds and themselves from different angles.
Children thrive on the exploration and discovery that shapes their knowledge and understanding of how and why things work. Our talks are a great way for children to learn first-hand, it also gives the children a sense of ownership towards their new playground as they had ‘helped’ to build it.
So, why install during term-time?
Term-time installations are an excellent way to demonstrate how real-life projects come together. By involving the kids in the construction process, they gain a deeper understanding of the world of construction and engineering, as well as understand that good things take time and effort.
This gives them a first-hand look at the amount of work that goes into projects like this, and how all that hard work pays off – it's a lesson they will not soon forget. We feel this encourages children to value their resources and play equipment that little bit more, as they feel they are a part of the process.
This window into the world of design and construction may even inspire a few product designers or builders in the future!
Are you ready for your new playground?
We are! To arrange a free Live Learning Experience at your school and to discuss a term-time playground installation, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Please visit our previous fantastic projects for an idea of playgrounds we have already transformed. A free, expert consultation service is also available, which is no-obligation for schools and nurseries considering developing their outdoor play areas. We can’t wait to hear from you!
‘Huge thanks to @dbdplayuk for visiting EYFS and talking through our wonderful project. Look at this amazing drone footage they created! #soar #stbartsway’
‘Pleasure to have you with us. The children loved being on site and now really feel part of the whole process. Such an experience for them!’
Lynzi Tiner, Early Years Educational Advisor.
Originally published Feb 18, 2022 10:00:52 AM , updated January 30, 2024