Category Archives: Halifax

Looking for Your Stories

My PlayGroundology alter ego is looking for your stories to share with attendees of Halifax’s 4th annual unconference – Emergent Learning. I have submitted a successful proposal to be an unpaid speaker at the event which is attended by educators, policy makers, parents, members of the medical community and others from across our part of the world here in Atlantic Canada who care about education.

Emergent Learning  graphicEmergent Learning Unconference – Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 2015

I’ve entitled the presentation, Risk, Resilience and the Renaissance of Play. If you have an anecdote, a photo, an infographic or video footage that illustrates the subject matter I will be speaking to, I’d love to hear from you. I will credit everything I am able to use.

Emergent Learning my sessionPresentation outline – Emergent Learning Unconference.

I’ve already had the opportunity to connect with some ‘play people’ in Australia, the UK, the USA and Canada and would be pleased to gather additional stories form these venues as well as other parts of the world.

Help PlayGroundology tell the story of Risk, Resilience and the Renaissance of Play. The final presentation will be available for sharing in November.

Thanks in advance to all those who are able to share stories. You can leave a comment here or write to playgroundology ‘at’

Emergent Learning PostBackyard fun – simple pleasures with a twist of risk

Today Only: Popping The Bubble Wrap with Tim Gill in Halifax, Nova Scotia

If you’re in the Halifax area, we hope you can join us at 2:30 this afternoon at the funked up Halifax Central Library to hear about risk and play from Tim Gill, one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood.

Risky play is crossing a lake with not a lot of rocks (to step on)…..


Tim Gill - Public Event Poster 8x11A helping hand to adventure……


Tim Gill - Public Poster Library Screens Draft 1-01Getting Out on a limb

Hope you can join us at the halifax central library….

halifaxcentrallibrary3Photo credit – Alexa Cude

The Kids Are Alright

The kids are alright, well actually these ones are quite spectacular. On opposite sides of the Atlantic this week media are reporting on stories of two groups of youth helping to make their communities better places.

In Halifax, capital of Canada’s Ocean Playground, Hope Blooms, a community social enterprise walked away with a significant investment following their pitch on a nationally broadcast TV show, Dragon’s Den.

The Hope Blooms line of salad dressing made from what they plant and harvest in community gardens is a hot seller. The six Hope Blooms members who pitched the five dragons on the show in Toronto were able to raise airfare to get there in short order. That’s because they are well known, loved and supported by the larger North End Halifax community.

They went to the show, which aired last night, with a $10,000 ask promising 5% royalties until the loan was paid back. They walked away with $40,0000, no strings attached and promises of promotion and product placement by the four dragons who came forward to support their venture.

The story resonated far and wide in Halifax where it was a topic of conversation throughout the day around the city. It struck a chord with the dragons too (Hope Blooms segment of the show available here – may not be accessible in all countries) and was part of the CBC’s national news broadcast yesterday evening. A great story of community, commitment, passion and engagement. Hats off to the youth of Hope Blooms and may their ideas and hard work continue to bear fruit.

Over in the UK in London’s East End, a group of primary kids in Hackney is raising funds for a school playground. Three years ago the school raised funds to help build a playground in Kenya. Now it’s their own Millfields Community School that is in need.

The kids have banded together along with some professional musicians to record a song penned by a community member and former teacher, Johnathan Hart. A digital download of Christmas is £0.99 and 20% of sales will be donated to UNICEF.

More on the Hackney kids in this story from East London Lines. If you want to hear some sweet voices and help their cause, click through here.

Inspiring stories showing what young people can accomplish in the name of community.

Help Choose New Canada Day PlayGroundology FB Cover Photo

If ever there was a day in Canada made for play, this is it. July 1 is Canada Day, a civic holiday celebrating our nationhood and the real beginning of the oh so short summer season. Here’s a shocking stat, only 5% of Canadian kids between the ages of 5 and 17 years old are getting the recommended levels of daily physical activity (Source: Active Healthy Kids Canada). So don’t waste any time, be active, get outside and play.

Just before you do though, could you nip over to PlayGroundology FB and ‘like’ your favourite image from 1 of the 3 below. The image with the most likes at the end of the day will become the new cover photo.

Haven’t been to PlayGroundology FB? Click through and ‘like’ us and you’ll get a couple of new images and stories every day of the week, except Saturday and the occasional holiday, curated from sources around the world.

PlayGroundology FB - July 1

Join play lovers and advocates from Australia, North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa on PlayGroundology’s Facebook channel for great visuals and news you can use from the global playground.

Drum roll please. Here are the 3 images to choose from from for the next PlayGroundology FB cover photo.

DSC02867Salamander Playground, Mount Royal Park, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

DSC09555Playground with Dory, Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, Canada

expo-67-iiChildren’s playspace, Canadian Pavilion. Expo 67, Montreal, Quebec, Canada – Designer – Cornelia Oberlander

Happy Canada Day from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

DSC07403From the decks of The Halcyon overlooking Halifax Harbour

The Tides Turn

Halifax’s waterfront sculpture ‘The Wave’ is now firmly in the play zone. After more than 20 years of trying to keep kids and adults from scaling the sculpture and sliding back down, the authorities have apparently given in. The change in heart sets ‘The Wave’ free for the summer’s biggest blowout on the harbour’s boardwalks – Tall Ships 2012.

The chiseled in stone statement at the base of the sculpture no longer applies. It is pretty much a free for all. There is also a newly installed rubberized ground cover. This will help break the falls that will inevitably happen. Anything flies now.

Kids are having great fun. Parents are a little skittish. I know the feeling, our four and six-year-old have perched on top and then skittled on down to ground level.

The National Post’s Joe O’Connor did a nice piece on ‘The Wave’ back in May. Take a read.

Thanks to Donna Hiebert for creating this iconic piece of public art that Haligonians and visitors, kids and adults love to play on. Thanks too to the authorities who have moved on from their former killjoy role.

Lilliputian Playgrounds

Leaving the hospital after a doctor’s appointment, Nellie-Rose and I come across a marvelous surprise. There, smack dab in the middle of the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre foyer is an island of magic, a multi-level, beautifully detailed and appointed model railway world. Two volunteer engineers are making sure the trains run on time and point out special features to the kids.

Click photo to enlarge

Perched atop a tunnel is a small playground with swings, teeter-totters and a roundabout. All the equipment is in use and there’s a cute touch too – one of the teeter-totters has a boy and a dog paired up.

Nellie is drinking it all in and cries out, “Hey papa, I see some more trains. I see Thomas!” Moments later, a trainload of Smurfs zooms by in all their bluey blueness. This is not your run of the mill railway system.

What delights me most is that these minutely crafted pieces of playgroundabilia move as if by magic with the push of a black button.

Now who knows, it’s conjecture after all, but if there had been playgrounds in Gulliver’s Lilliput just maybe there would have been less conflict between the Lilliputians and their island neighbours in Blefuscu, less bluster and bravado.

Nellie and I decide that we will return for a more leisurely viewing of the model railroad. On the next trip we’ll bring Noah and Lila so they can revel in the magic of miniature landscapes, machines and people. I’m sure there will be some quality oohing and aahing from all three kids. Many thanks to the volunteers at the hospital for this ray of sunshine.

Click photo to enlarge

For Halifax readers/visitors

Officially opened in October 2000, the Model Railway brings the world of transportation alive to all who visit the IWK. Located on the first floor, near the South Street entrance, Children’s Site, this Model Railway is run by volunteers from The Model Railway Association, Monday through Friday, 9 am – 11 am and Tuesday evenings 7 – 9 pm. Funded by the IWK Auxiliary and the CN Railway, this project is always changing with new style layouts, engines and interactive buttons. Be sure to drop by! (Source: IWK Health Centre Great Spots to Visit)

The Amazing Two-Slided House

Not far from where we live in Halifax on Canada’s Atlantic coast is the amazing two-slided house.
A rare, yellow twist two-slided house

Now I know you’re thinking that there is only one slide in this photo. But look below, from front on you’ll see that there are two. As my almost four-year-old Nellie-Rose is wont to say, “it’s true, it’s really, really true”.
Facade – Slides or Handles

This is not photoshop trickery or sleight of hand as you may appreciate from the daylight photos.
This is a day care and after school play area

Not sure why the structure is boarded up, or if the slides are still functional. Very curious to see what’s inside. Hopefully the creativity that led to slides popping out of the gables is also on display in the interior.

Close up

Could this possibly catch on in day cares across the nation, or perhaps even in residential homes?

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