There is a fine example of a playground near to me. The whole area has been recently revamped; it has been very well done. The schools were on holiday last week so it was very busy with children from toddlers, through to teenagers in evidence. The playground is in the centre of a high rise complex so the youngsters do not have the luxury of their own gardens to play in, they have to go elsewhere. There were also lots of mothers enjoying the late summer sun. I was pleased to see that there were some inviting benches for them to sit and socialise.
All very well you may say, so what is the problem? The designers missed a trick as they did not make use of any ground or wall space. They had instead concentrated on providing attractive playground equipment. What a shame as the children could have benefited in so many ways from a few simple playground markings as well. Not only would there have been more variety, the children would have profited in so many other ways as well.
The age of children playing together is dead, or so we are told by the media. Well introduce youngsters to the age-old favourite of hopscotch and snakes and ladders and you will soon have a group of youngsters actively involved together, counting scores and in gentle competition. Children need to learn to be competitive, but also to lose graciously, what better than learning through these types of games? Often these are viewed as girls’ games, but this is untrue and many of our budding sportsmen would do well to learn to win and lose courteously.
Another engaging activity involves fitness circuits, something as simple as running lanes or a numbered circuit with varied challenges where again there can be competition alongside developing personal skills. Many young people in this area will not be taken to expensive gyms or coaching lessons so this would be a definite bonus. The beauty is you do not need a lot of space for this.
Children of all ages love mazes, these are great for encouraging problem solving, again only a small space is required. Add to these hopping and jumping games for maximum fun.
As a child I remember hopping games where we recited the alphabet or numbers in order. This was always great fun and very sociable. Many playground games and playground markings were invented around this. So any self-respecting playground should have some sort of markings on the ground to encourage this.
This particular playground adjoins pitches with changing rooms, one side of the area has the wall of the changing rooms as a boundary. This wall is very bland and uninviting and would benefit from painted markings for target practice. How easy to paint a dartboard, hoopla, target practices and the like. This would develop hand-eye-co-ordination, the added benefit is that scores have to be kept, mental addition but not so that the young people would notice!
I could go on and on extolling the benefits of such simple markings. The addition of these would turn a very fine playground area into a more challenging and exciting area for youngsters of school age.