Category Archives: Swings

Jump

Jump

Somewhere in urban America, sometime ago, this lad jumped. And what a leap as he sails toward the fence.

If anyone knows the photographer, the jumper or the story behind this photo, I’d love to hear from you.

I jumped from a swing in motion when I was a kid and lived to tell the tale. It never approached the drama or daredevilry of the image above but nevertheless my buddies and I felt like we were living a little on the edge.

My young kids are doing it now too. There are such looks of wonder, fear and elation rapidly shifting across their faces as they fling themselves through the air.

This is a concrete example of a playground activity where kids assess risk. It’s all about their own ability and judgment as they face off against gravity.

Check the facial expressions and aerial acrobatics of these jumpers captured by flickr photographers and curated by PlayGroundology in JUMP.

2722837321_74639701fd_zPhoto credit – Wayne Silver. License – (CC BY 2.0)

Get out there and JUMP!

If you’re a swing lover, you may also enjoy – The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging.

PlayGroundology’s on Cloud Nine

PlayGroundology has just wrapped its third year of blogging about the world of play and playgrounds. Following are nine posts that readers found popular. If you didn’t see them first time around, I hope you’ll take a moment to sample two, or three. If you like them, share with others – play never has a best before date. Happy playing and thanks for reading PlayGroundology!

Sculpted in France – Concrete Art Playgrounds

Photo credit: J. Bruchet. Source: Architectures de cartes postales. Designer: Pierre Székely. Cité des Jeux – L’Haÿ-les-Roses, France

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for France so I’m always on the lookout for interesting play stories from that part of the world. Our family lived there in the early 70s. I was 12 when we arrived and 15 when we left. It was my gawky early adolescent phase which I like to think I’ve outgrown. (more…)

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Just Play

J

Just Play

play play
whether it’s alone or with friends
within four walls or under a great canvas of sky
just play

there are not enough hours
in a heartful life
to miss kaleidoscoping fun (more…)

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The Playground Paradise Principle

Paradise might be a bit of a stretch but Malmö, Sweden is quite simply playgroundalicious. It’s the kind of place that would inspire Mary Poppins to gather her young charges around her and umbrella them off to adventure – up through the atmosphere/ up where the air is clear/ let’s all/ go to Malmö. (more…)

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London’s Somerford Grove Adventure Playground Makes The New York Times Magazine

Source: Haringey Play Association. Click image to enlarge

There are four stunning, brilliant images in the March 1 edition of the The New York Times Magazine offering glimpses of children at the Somerford Grove Adventure Playground in London, England. (more…)

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A Journey of Epic Proportions

How do you spice up your morning commute to work and at the same time make it more meaningful? Look no further than my friend Chris Gregory for an answer. Chris is a champion for play at the Isle of Man’s leading children’s charity The Children’s Centre. To raise awareness for outdoor play and safe and playful routes for children, he is taking a different means of self propelled transport every workday for the month of March. His epic journey started out with a 3 kilometer spacehopper commute. Do I hear sore thighs? (more…) Note, Chris is in training for his second run at March 2 Work.

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Imagining a Better Future – Playtime in Africa

Source: Mmofra Foundation. Click image to enlarge

Two acres of green space in the Dzorwulu neighbourhood of Accra, Ghana are being primed for transformation. It’s all about the kids, or Mmofra as they are called in Ghana’s Akan language.

This story, about a small plot of land, spans decades, continents and generations. It’s the story of a woman’s vision, of her love for children. The seeds were sown 50 years ago when the late Efua Sutherland wrote her groundbreaking book on Ghana’s play culture, Playtime in Africa. The narrative and accompanying photographs by Willis E. Bell were the first real documentation of children’s play in the newly independent African nation. (more…)

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Sir Ken of TEDalot on Play and Learning

Earlier this spring, Sir Ken (Robinson) shared his views on education with an appreciative audience in Halifax, Nova Scotia – home of PlayGroundology. I was one of the 1,000 in attendance who enjoyed an accomplished and entertaining critic of conventional wisdom about education and creativity. No props, no notes, plenty of humourous asides and always an à propos anecdote. (more…)

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Have You Heard What They’re Saying About RISK? Listen Then Share

Generally speaking, parents want their kids to experience the fullness of the world – the quiet beauty, the dizzying adventure, the discovery of self and others. As much as possible we want to keep hurt and injury at bay but they too are part of the mix with cuts, scrapes and breaks both corporeal and psychological. So how do we go about assessing risk? How do we ensure that our kids aren’t enclosed in a cocoon of safety?

I saw this video a couple of nights ago and thought I would play a small role in helping to spread the word. Right now it’s at 373 views. After you’ve watched it, please share with your friends and your broader network.

Thanks to the Alliance for Childhood and KaBOOM! for producing this piece.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. When I saw Teena Marie Fancey’s Baby Boy at The Craig Gallery on Dartmouth, Nova Scotia’s waterfront a couple of years ago, I knew I had found a great opening image for a paean to swings. Thanks Teena. (more…)

The Electric Art of Swinging

I’m a sucker for swings. They can be a gentle relaxing glide, or a drop thrill sweeping ride.

In Portugal this past week, as part of the European Capital of Culture in Guimarães, a pop-up swing installation greeted visitors to the International Centre for the Arts Jose de Guimarães.

Source: moradavaga 2012

Constructed on a foundation of donated pallets, the wooden block swings generated electricity by rigging up bicycle chains and wheels to capture the energy of arcing motion.

See how it works here in this short video produced by the Moradavaga Collective for their playable public art, SWING.

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SWING is art, play and a tribute to the city’s industrial heritage.

If you love swings check these earlier PlayGroundology posts: In Montreal the Swings Are Alive With The Sound of Music; The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging.

Drop in on PlayGroundology’s FB page for a video posted earlier today of a wild rope swing ride shot in Utah.

Flickr Swings

This is a companion post to The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging. Click through here to a curated flickr gallery of 18 swing photos from around the world including an Independence Day themed shot for our American readers.

Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia – Canada Day, July 1, 2012

Do you have a favourite photo of swings? Post it on PlayGroundology’s Facebook page.

The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. When I saw Teena Marie Fancey’s Baby Boy at The Craig Gallery on Dartmouth, Nova Scotia’s waterfront a couple of years ago, I knew I had found a great opening image for a paean to swings. Thanks Teena.

Swings are all grace and simplicity as they trace their airy arcs. In downward sweeps there is the tickling acceleration of free fall. Then as the pendulum tracks the outer bounds of its trajectory, the weighty hand of gravity pulls down.

The rise and fall, earth to sky movement is one of the first experiences that parents and children share together at the playground. It’s the bond of the baby swings – push, push away and then fall back into papa or mama’s loving embrace.

There are milestones – graduating from baby to big kids swing, getting on unassisted, giving another child a push, pumping and propelling through the air unaided, standing up swinging, twosome riding one person standing and one sitting, helicoptering and flying off the seat into a heart stopping jump.

And what a variety of swings, of choices – rope, lawn, glider, tire swings and the truly inventive ones like this got you over a barrel model from India.

via flickr by Eileen Delhi. Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Years ago when my art college daughter was just a tyke and I was finding my way as a single dad, we were regulars at a playground not far from our home. We created our own fun activities and for the longest time one of our favourites was the elliptical whirl of the tire swing.

For Alexa the velocity and tilt were exhilarating. For me, the rhythmic repetition of the pushing was a soothing release at the end of the day. We both remember the little ditty we sang together as she whizzed through air…

round and round and round
she goes
where she stops
nobody knows

round and round
on the tire swing
high in the sky
like a bird on a wing

People do love their tire swings and can get downright sentimental about them. Just check this Flickr group dedicated to one of the earlier recycling ideas for an industrial product.

Swings have also become part of the public art vernacular in some cityscapes. For two consecutive summers, Montrealers have been able to create their own downtown symphony of swings with the temporary 21 Balançoires installation. This is one of the more popular PlayGroundology posts.

And who knew that one day this elemental piece of equipment would inspire its own movement? The Red Swing Project installs swings anonymously in unlikely venues. This international band of merrymakers has hung swings in the USA, India, Thailand, Brasil, Taiwan, South Korea, France, Spain, Portugal, Haiti and Poland.

In their timelessness, swings are chic, à la mode.
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I found this lovely necklace by Calourette on a SwissMiss blog post. If you’re not familiar with Tina Roth Eisenberg aka SwissMiss don’t miss her site on all things design which was recently featured on Say:100

And wait, just before we go, did I hear tattoo? Fellow Canadian Marc Johns has created this wonderful line drawing – Playground – that is also available as a tattly. The line drawing looks like this.

Find a few moments this weekend to swing through the summer sky, let your toes touch the stars. We’re never too old for that climb and drop sensation.

Keep on swingin’.

Guerrillas in the Mist – Isle of Man Adventures in Swing

I read a great post yesterday from Chris Gregory’s blog, Play Isle of Man. Chris and I have corresponded back and forth about the world of play and discovered that we both have a soft spot for swings. Chris is much more of a connoisseur than I and has a lot of swing tales to tell.

Chris Gregory champions play on the Isle of Man for the Island’s leading children’s charity The Children’s Centre. Campaigning to transform the Isle of Man into the greatest place on earth for children to grow up, Chris lives and breathes play. Rumours he once ate an apple and regurgitated a small forest containing a fully working Ewok village remain unconfirmed.

Colby Glen in the Clearing, Isle of Man

With his Will you be part of the Guerrilla Swinga Movement? post, he’s setting the foundation for a bit of mythology making all in the name of fun and play. Chris kindly agreed to repost his piece here at PlayGroundology. Pass on the fun, hit a share button and let the movement catch on.

On with his post.

Will you be part of the Guerrilla Swinga Movement?

If you’ve ever made or used a rope swing you are now and without realising it part of a movement… Welcome to Guerrilla Swing Movement!

A childhood wouldn’t be complete without using or creating a rope swing. More popular than the mundane manufactured swings you’ll find in your local park and often not for the faint of heart, these are the swings often made from old rope, lashed around the thickest available branch and often hanging over a river or significant drop. These are swings made by children for children!

Ramsey Pool Dewey, Isle of Man

Rarely around for long, the swings are far too often cut down by an overly dutiful health and safety bods or by Play Deprived adults who thinks it “looks messy”. But there are others out there with totally different ideas…

I have recently received a number of emails from a group calling themselves the “Guerrilla Swingas”. Tired of health and safety restricting their children’s fun they have a seemingly endless supply of rope and dress in monkey costumes and they a have a mission to erect as many rope swings around the Isle of Man in as many child accessible places as possible.

In an email to me they have asked for support from likeminded parents, adults, children and young people who are tired of the restrictions put upon them and become honorary Guerilla Swingas.

Pulrose near the golf course, Isle of Man

And we here at Play Isle of Man say, Sounds like fun? I’m sure there are all sorts of health and safety legislation out there that will bombard you with reasons why not to, but the Guerrilla Swingas seem to be shouting a counter argument that is turning up the volume, “it’s fun and as long as you use a strong piece of rope, a thick secure tree branch that’s not dead, and a strong stick to sit on the only danger you’re in, is missing out on the fun.”

All we would say to would be swingas is to be respectful and only use branches for sitting on that you have found loose on the floor.

We’ll continue to post more of their swings and their locations as we get them, but if you’ve seen or created a swing send us a photo and we’ll stick up.

Bananas to you all

Glen Vine Park Lane, Isle of Man

Send your photos to Chris via the ‘contact’ link on his blog

Follow Chris’ adventures in the Guerrilla Swinga Movement and other play related pursuits on Twitter @chrisplayiom.

If you’re entranced by swings, you may enjoy this post – In Montreal, The Swings Are Alive With The Sound of Music.

A Playground Stalwart

Swings have been around forever. They can be a comfort and a thrill. I’ve been planning a post exclusively on swings for months now but just haven’t got out of the gates with it. I do have a working title though – apologies in advance to Milan Kundera – The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging.
Helen Creighton, 1903 – Nova Scotia Archives

I couldn’t wait for the swing piece to be ready before posting this. I wonder how many kids had their own swings at the turn of the last century. The young girl in this photo is Helen Creighton. Working from her Nova Scotia home, she went on to become a celebrated folklorist in Canada, a collector of songs and stories. My own three-year-old – Helen’s age in this shot – loves her clothes and wants some just the same.

Many thanks to Lauren at Nova Scotia Archives for sharing the photo.

The Sling Swing – 1919

Not all designs are created equal. This 1919 photo (click image to enlarge) from Halifax, Nova Scotia is a good illustration of the maxim. The ‘sling swing’ is an innovative design that didn’t have staying power, never became the standard. It was perhaps the precursor of the baby swing as we know it today. Note that it could be adjusted for sitting or reclining positions.

Thanks to the Nova Scotia Archives for this brief blast from the past.

Photo details – This photograph originally belonged to Jane B. Wisdom. This playground and the Central Playground on the Commons were equipped with money from the Massachusetts – Halifax Relief fund, the Rotary Club and other organizations.

Date: 1919

Reference no.: McQueen Family NSARM accession no. 1992-192

In Montreal The Swings Are Alive With The Sound Of Music

These are sweetnote dreamswings an innovation in play and sound. The 21 swings installation is located in Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles on the Promenade des Artistes. This is part of the city’s celebrated arts district where the Jazz Festival and Just for Laughs strut their stuff. Now strangers can make music together by leaning back and kicking for the sky.


Cooperation, the unbearable lightness of swinging and musical permutations scoring new compositions – it just doesn’t get any better. Artist-Designers Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat who created the installation with Luc-Alain Girardeau, professor of animal behaviour at the Université de Québec à Montréal (UQAM), are interviewed here.

Photo credit – Quartier des spectacles on flickr

I’m sure this trio’s work has inspired many a passerby since the exhibition opened toward the end of April. I’m kicking myself as we just missed it on our recent Montreal visit. Mark you calendars – the tuneful swinging comes to a standstill on May 23 at 11:00 p.m. – just under two weeks remaining at the time of writing. Take a moment and go swinging under the sun, the stars, the moon.

Beautiful concept. I hope 21 Balançoires will reappear from time to time to inject playfulness in the heart of the city. Thanks to my longtime friend Moussa for passing this on.

Montreal Gazette reporter, Jeff Heinrich wrote a good review that includes a nicely shot video – check the bottom lit swing seats.

Credits for 21 Balançoires here.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at #21B.