Category Archives: playground

Round and Round and Round

When my twenty-something daughter was a wee girl, we’d walk hand in hand a few blocks up the street to a small park. The summer sky’s frolicking blue and whispery wisps of cloud were an invitation to the outdoors. The expanse of grass was always a marvelous shade of green speckled with bursts of dandelion and splashes of clover. It was a small patch of play, in a small city, along a small strip of harbour nestled away from the vast ocean’s curling waves.

CurlingWavesPhoto credit – Alexa Cude. Atlantic waves

Invariably on each visit, over a period of several months, we reenacted that children’s classic, The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I was typecast as the troll. My daughter, with nary a missed beat, took on the the role of each of the Goats Gruff in succession with a flourish that only a four-year-old could muster.

There was a perfect little arched bridge leading from one slide platform to another. As the Goats Gruff trip-trapped over the bridge, I would lunge out with a troll-like cry inflected with just the right amount of fright to challenge the saucy Goats Gruff who dared to cross my little stream. Billy Goat Gruff the elder and his trip-trapping, troll trawling ways were always a great canvas for giggles, running and laughter.

3740887053_279d02e05f_o.jpgPhoto credit – Christopher Charles. Three Billy Goats Gruff. License – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The neighbourhood playground was also a great spot for getting up close and personal with the dirt, throwing stones, picking flowery weeds, chasing butterflies – all those priceless activities whose only subscription fee is time. There were many fine moments for us at Halifax’s Ardmore Park and the most rollicking was certainly the tire swing.

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Round and round and round we go
Where we stop nobody knows
Round and round on the tire swing
High in sky like a bird on the wing

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Not a million seller this ditty of a tune that’s for sure. It made my daughter and I feel rich beyond compare though as I propelled her through the air with great centrifugal force on an elliptical dipping and dropping trajectory – ‘high in the sky like a bird on a wing’.

The Unorthodox ApproachPhoto credit – Stephanie Sicore. Unorthodox approach. License – (CC BY 2.0).

This vulcanized donut suspended on three chains from a heavy duty swivel hanger was the most grueling, adrenaline-charged ride of the playground. My girl’s appetite for the round and round seemed insatiable. Sometimes when the tire came to a standstill and she unclasped her tiny little fingers from the cold chain links and slipped through the hole tippy toes to the hard-packed earth below she would be a little wobbly.

I never tired of pushing her, or singing the song. It was one of those wonderful simple, timeless pleasures. The playground was made over years ago and the tire swings removed. The song lives on with her younger siblings and will undoubtedly get an airing with her soon-to-be niece

On occasion Alexa and I still find a moment to walk hand in hand but it’s more likely to be a lunch at my office when our schedules permit. She is a wonderful photographer and if you’d like to see some of her work check out seriouslyalexa on instagram. Lots of great photos there including those two much loved scamps in her life, the fearless canine duo – Yeezy and Ace.

Horses with PapsPhoto credit – Alexa Cude. Horses with Scotland’s Paps of Jura in the background

Later today we are celebrating her birthday with a brunch before her lad whisks her away to a mystery destination. Who knows, maybe they’re headed to their local tire swing?

Happy Birthday Alexa
Love Papa

Cosby the Comic Prince Riffs on Playgrounds

Did any comic have a better ear for kids? I came across this gem today while curating content for PlayGroundology FB. From the maker of Fat Albert and so much more…

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Cosby lets loose targeting parents as the masterminds behind a playground plot to get rid of kids.

I’m on the lookout for other playground routines by comics. Drop me a line if you know of any.

A Page Out of the Play Book

PlayGroundology is keeping some fine company in the latest issue of Playground Magazine. The three column page in the mag’s ‘who’s talking about’ section has Halifax’s yours truly sharing space with Australia’s non-profit social enterprise, PlaygroundIDEAS and Denmark’s design house extraordinaire, MONSTRUM.

Playground Magazine - Spring 2014Spring 2014 issue of Playground Magazine. Click to enlarge.

Playground Magazine is published quarterly by Idaho-based Playground Professionals LLC. You can subscribe for free online by signing up here.

For readers interested in a broad range of academic perspectives on play, the American Journal of Play is also available free online. The Winter 2014 issue features interviews on the topics of storytelling, story acting and literacy, articles on deep play and the origins of playfulness and several book reviews.

American Journal of Play - Winter 2014Winter 2014 issue of American Journal of Play.

Past issues are also accessible. “The American Journal of Play is published by The Strong, a highly interactive, collections-based educational institution devoted to the study and exploration of play.”

If you find yourself with a little time on your hands and no one to play with, settle in for a good read with either of these publications.

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.

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

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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…)

Twelve Days of Christmas Play

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A tire swing in an oak tree

5344851996_2d6c899585_bPhoto credit – Derek Buff. License – CC BY-NC 2.0

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the third day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the fifth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

Eden Log

On the sixth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the seventh day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the eighth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

3742578481_edf317b0efPhoto credit – Oliver Hammond. License – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

On the ninth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Nine fields for running
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the tenth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Ten rocks for scaling
Nine fields for running
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Eleven see-saws sawing
Ten rocks for scaling
Nine fields for running
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

2038760_32736d2ee8_oPhoto credit – Vaughn Hannon. License – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve messy mudholes
Eleven see-saws sawing
Ten rocks for scaling
Nine fields for running
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

Paris Serves Up Les Halles Playground – Terrain d’aventures

Back in the spring of 2011, I wrote a post on Paris playgrounds. MJ, one of my workmates was there and took a couple of photos for PlayGroundology. At the same time I came across an artist’s rendition of of the playground that was to be built at the redeveloped site of Les Halles.

The terrain d’aventures opened in early October this year. The video below gives a taste of the unique equipment that makes this new play space a star attraction for Parisians on downtown outings in the 1er arrondissement.

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The Mayor and his closest aides were there as well as France 3 Paris Ile-de-France TV. Unlike a playground opening earlier this week in Lisbon where there were no kids on camera, Les Halles features quite a few testing out the fun that’s packed in and parsed out over 2,500 square metres.

Les halles details

If you’re Paris bound, check here for details. The playground opens at 10 in the morning and currently kids can only play in it for 1 hour per day. The maximum capacity for the playground is 100 kids per hour. Reservations are required and entry is free.

Jardin des enfants - Mairie de Paris 1Click through on the image for a full photo gallery.

Don’t stop the fun at Les Halles. Check this list of Paris playgrounds.

All images courtesy of the Ville de Paris.