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Planning for Play in a Playground

by Prue Walsh
September/October 2008
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/planning-for-play-in-a-playground/5018388/

Early childhood educators and researchers often write of the need for a 'magical playscape' a sensory-rich environment that will draw out children's active inquiry and engagement in an outside learning environment. Despite this soundly child-based information, the reality of many playgrounds is a sandbox, a climbing frame, and a bicycle path; these are perceived as all that is needed. The result is limited facilities with insufficient variety, diversity and number of play options readily available to the children to stimulate their learning-though-play. In practice I have found that whilst the intent is often sound, the implementation falls far short.

The research of Kritchevsky & Prescott (1977) found a paradigm-breaking link between the organisation of space (planning) and the developmentally-based goals for young children. Concurrently there was the recognition of the physical environment in the work of Reggio Emilia with the definition of it as the 'third teacher' (1998). Whilst most of this work dwelt on the interior layouts of buildings, the principles they established stand well as a basis for planning of outside learning environments for child-usage.

What is needed is more recognition and development of the parameters established by Kritchevsky & Prescott as a basis for developing outdoor play settings:

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