Here at Acorn we have just moved into a brand new beautiful space thanks to a lot of hard work, fundraising, and an incredibly generous gift from the city of Boulder. Along with our new space, comes a playground that is literally an urban oasis. For teachers like me, who would teach outside all day if they could, it’s a dream come true.
So as we were moving toys over from the old school, we took the opportunity to really think about the use of equipment on the playground and what we wanted to see happening out there. The consensus was, that at least to start, we wanted to go minimal and then add if necessary.
But as we’ve been out there for almost 2 weeks, I am now fully embracing the less is more philosophy. We have a small stack of blocks, our kodokids equipment, a stash of musical instruments, a couple bikes, a few bats and balls, some pails and shovels for digging, and in a stroke of genius by our director, we buried sea glass in the sand that has become treasure to hunt for every day.
That’s it. That’s all we have. And you know what? It’s perfect.
In just 2 weeks, I have seen a change in the way the kids are playing, with the toys, with each other, and by themselves. I see more imaginative play, more big body play, like somersaults, rolling on the grass, and wrestling. I see games of tag, and hide-and-seek, balancing, jumping, and running. Not that those weren’t happening on the old playground, but there’s just more of it, for longer time periods.
So I challenge you and your staff to scale down and see what happens. Granted, it was easier for us to make this dramatic shift as we moved onto a stunning new space, and it may take time for your kids to adjust to less equipment, but I would be surprised if you didn’t start to see some more creativity, more gross motor activity, and even more calm behavior. It’s more old-fashioned play, for plays sake. Like when we were kids outside. And all with 80% less stuff.