Category Archives: Flickr

Reeling through the Years II – Somewhere over the Rainbow

Thanks to PlayGroundology’s 500+ subscribers and readers from over 140 countries, the blog has clocked nearly 600,000 page views since January 2010. I had no idea at the outset how it would all play out. It’s a great ongoing adventure and journey of discovery.

This hobby, morphed into an unpaid vocation of sorts, has opened so many doors. I meet play ambassadors from around the world and hear from readers on how they are inspired by specific posts. Most of these encounters take place online but it’s been a real treat to meet some folks in person in Glasgow, Toronto, San Diego and right here at home in Halifax.

There are just so many inspiring stories about play and kids. There is also a lot of important advocacy work to be done to ensure all kids have an opportunity to play. As PlayGroundology gears up for its ninth year, we’ll be sharing some of our milestone stories with you throughout the month of January. I hope you enjoy this second installment.

Kids at Play – flickr Photo Gallery – July 29, 2011

Flickr is a great source of visuals for play. This is one of the earlier flickr galleries I put together. There have been over 2,000 views but I think the quality of the photos of kids from around the world playing is very evocative and well worth a look. Let me know what you think if you click on through.

All told I’ve curated 35 galleries. Among them is Swedish Aesthetic which was picked up and promoted by the flickr blog. There is really nothing quite as marvellous as a fine shot of a kid at play.

The Playground Paradise Principle – Malmö, Sweden – February 6, 2012

It’s not everyday that you’re going to see a rainbow slide. Truly they should be de rigueur wherever small kids gather. This Swedish city has embraced the value of play and has become a bit of a destination for families from other parts of the continent. The municipal government even offers study tours of their play spaces that also includes pitches for the locally invented puckelball.

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.

So if anyone ever has spare airline tickets to Malmö don’t forget to give me call. Copenhagen would be fine too, I’d just take a drive across the Oresund bridge…

Sir Ken of TEDalot on Play and Learning – May 6, 2012

British education reformer Sir Ken Robinson’s TedTalks have racked up millions of views. He is a great storyteller who is passionate about his subject matter and audience. I was lucky enough to see him in person at an event in Halifax several years back and used it as an opportunity to reach out and ask about play.

There are three key terms when we come to think about play. The first is imagination, the second is creativity and the third is innovation.

Sir Ken warmed to the play topic and waxed on for about 5 minutes which you can read about here.

The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging – June 28, 2012

When was the last time you had a swing? It’s been too long for me. I really must remedy that.

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. 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.

A couple of more installments coming your way over the coming weeks.


True North Playscapes – Canada 150

As Canada celebrates 150 years, PlayGroundology is inviting those who love play to join True North Playscapes – Canada 150. This new flickr group has been created to document and share the diversity of children’s playscapes across the country.

expo-67-iiChildren’s Creative Centre Playground – Canada Pavilion – Expo 67. Photographer – unknown. Source – Canadian Centre for Architecture.

Photos can depict any time period and any kind of space – urban, natural, other – that kids use for play. Photos do not have to be limited to ‘playgrounds’. Any space or feature that kids convert for play purposes will be a welcome addition to the group.

Please tag your photos by province, by town/city and by year. If the playscapes are distinctive in other ways, please tag them accordingly.

childrens-creative-centre-playground-iiSwallows and Amazons, anyone? Children’s Creative Centre Playground – Canada Pavilion – Expo 67. Photographer – unknown. Source – Canadian Centre for Architecture.

It is my hope that True North Playscapes – Canada 150 will attract a wide variety of playscapes and play spaces that provide alternative opportunities to the standard, off the shelf, pre-fab installations commonly installed in public venues in many communities.

Upload your photos at True North Playscapes – Canada 150 and let’s help build a resource for communities from coast to coast to coast and beyond.

the-waveThe Wave on the Halifax, Nova Scotia waterfront – sculpture becomes play environment.

It’s the 150th anniversary of Confederation, everybody play…..

Setting Sail for Play

Life of Pi - The PrequelShip’s Company from the Adventure Playground series. Photo credit – John Drysdale, circa 1960s. Source – Victoria and Albert Museum

Boats exude an elemental mystery. Fresh water, or briny sea they hold the promise of adventure and discovery. Whether in wavy tossed expanse or landlocked far from shore they are dream makers for voyagers young and old.

19579885394_0570494a89_k(1)Merseyside’s Black Pearl (story here), New Brighton, UK. Photo credit – Pete Birkinshaw, (CC BY 2.0)

Although I have no empirical evidence, I will hazard a guess and suggest that boats are among the top three transportation modes represented in play spaces around the world. The two others include the space class – rockets, shuttles, etc. and cars.

DSC09555Jubilee Park, Bridgetown, Nova Scotia.

Playground boats range in size from the small dory that graces the banner of the PlayGroundology FB page to the larger than life Amager Ark which is part of the Himmelhøj play artscape on Amager Island in Copenhagen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmager Ark – Himmelhøj, Copenhagen. Photo credit – by the artist Alfio Bonanno.

In Canada’s Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence there is a recurring boat motif in playscapes throughout the archipelago. They are favourites with our kids whenever we visit and have a deep rooted connection to the people and the place.

DSC07548L’Étang du Nord, Cap-aux-Meules, Magdalen Islands.

Running across decks, scrambling up ropes, hiding in holds are activities for young sailors, captains, deckhands, swabs, pirates, fishermen, explorers, or warriors as they set off on an adventurous round of play.

In Halifax, PlayGroundology’s home port, we have a number of boat play spaces and even a submarine. Our iconic boat, a trawler by the name of Halcyon, was retired a few years back after more than 25 years of service in the name of fun. The video below is a short tribute to busy play days on the boat with our daughter Nellie-Rose, in her younger years, leading the charge.

Boats for Play I and Boats for Play II are flickr galleries with photos of boat playgrounds around the world. Does your community have any boat playscapes? If so, post some photos on PlayGroundology FB.

Boats are in my blood. My father and grandfather both worked in the shipyards on the River Clyde in Scotland. My grandfather was an avid model yachtsman and as I write this I look up at one of the trophies he was awarded – The Port Glasgow Model Yacht Club’s Tosh Memorial Shield which his boat the Fairy won in 1952.

As a young adult in the 1970s I had the opportunity to work on board two Canadian Coast Guard ships, an icebreaker in the Arctic and a buoy boat around Nova Scotia’s shores – quite an adventure for a lad of 16. All that to say that I do love a boat playground. You can pipe me on board anytime…



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.

Teetering on the Brink of Extinction?

In some jurisdictions a longish trek is needed to teeter your totter on a see-saw. They are not as common as they once were in PlayGroundology’s Halifax home. It’s quite possible that the genteel wilds of Kejimkujik National Park’s campgrounds about 2 1/2 hours out of the city have a healthier and more robust see-saw population.

DSC01739Keji National Park playground – Nova Scotia, Canada

I hope Keji’s red see-saws have protected status. Their well-being and continued existence should be championed if ever public pressure due to misguided fears related to safety results in calls for their removal.

See-saws are one of the mighty trio of conventional playground equipment along with slides and swings. They have been much maligned in recent years as harbingers of injury. Granted kids have to be taught not to get off and let their friend plummet to earth. Likewise it’s important to ensure that one’s chin is nowhere near the upward trajectory when sending the equipment whistling up and down with the force of one’s arms while standing on the ground. Then I guess we shouldn’t discount the fear of falling off while at the top of the game…

Not all is lost, in some places the see-saw is flourishing. If big is a public display of affection and acceptance then Berlin is a safe habitat. Potsdamer Platz’s Tilla-Durieux Park offers rides on super-sized see-saws possibly the largest scale in the world. This space teeters on imaginative ups with none of the tottering associated with overly cautious downs.

1499502228_6eb078314a_oPotsdamer Platz, Berlin. Photo credit – Sebastian Niedlich. License – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Despite their standard lever and fulcrum make-up, see-saws do come in various guises as depicted in the Teeter-Totterus flicker gallery. Eighteen fine photos from flickr photographers.

Before dispensing with the ups and downs completely I thought it worthwhile to share some research. Behold a class experimenting with physics. Where was this school when I was a teenager?

Long live the see-saw – respect their right to rise, fall and rise again.

Playgrounds from the Land of St. Patrick

Play and playgrounds from Eire and Northern Ireland in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

265140989_d75aceccfd_zPhoto credit: jump by Fittzer. License – (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Get to the St. Patrick’s Day Flickr Gallery by clicking through on the green.

For more on play in Ireland visit Sugradh and Playboard.

Playground Menagerie

We are the only species that sets aside dedicated space to be used exclusively for play by our young. But in many countries throughout the world humans are not the only ones populating playgrounds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlayground in Sofia, Bulgaria. Source: Snezhka Karatoteva.

It’s as if some of Noah’s precious charges were peppered across playscapes to watch over and amuse the human young. There are African and Australian animals from the wild, barnyard favourites and mythical creatures.

DragonDragon playground with designer Mr. Khor in Toa Payoh, Singapore. Source: Mosaic Memories – Remembering the Playgrounds Singapore Grew Up In by Justin Zhuang.

The playground animals serve multiple roles – slides, teeter-totters, climbers and springriders. They are also a friendly reminder that there is a natural world for us to engage with and care for.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlayground in Sofia, Bulgaria. Source: Snezhka Karatoteva.

There are more great photos from Zemen, Bulgaria to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in the PlayGroundology curated gallery ‘Animal Farm’ right here.

Editor’s note – thanks to Snezhka Karatoteva from Sofia, Bulgaria who recently dropped in on the PlayGroundology FB Page and offered to share playground photos with PlayGroundology readers. Check the blog here.