Learning outside the classroom is as important as learning inside the classroom. That’s why students at Eastview PS are welcoming the warmer weather and a chance to play in their newly renovated playground that provides a wide variety of opportunities for engagement and involvement.
Last year, the playground was not much more than concrete. Recess found students wandering aimlessly and interactions often resulted in conflict. After observing this ongoing pattern of behavior, Dr. Cynthia McCall, a school psychologist, with full support from Principal Ken Morden, spearheaded a campaign to make the play area more dynamic, engaging and interactive.
“We asked ourselves: what can we do as a school to address these behavior patterns and help students succeed?” said McCall. The team conducted and reviewed a lot of research to determine the best games and activities for the students and the skills that they should and could develop through them.
The result was a dynamic play space that gives kids a focus during the unstructured time and provides a healthy outlet for physical activity. An intentional variety of games were chosen to help nurture valuable skills such as turn taking and paying attention, to support the development of social skills through multi-player games, to provide opportunities for leadership and coaching and to support self-regulation. There are also more open-ended spaces, such as a fitness trail, that allow for creativity and initiative.
Valuing students’ experiences was a critical part of this work, said McCall. Eastview is a very multicultural school, including one-third Indigenous students so incorporating Indigenous ideas and themes into the design was important, they said, and is reflected in the colours used, some of the symbols, such as turtles, and in the peace path, a guided activity where students can reflect.
Use of the playground now extends beyond recess with classes finding their way outside for hands-on learning, says Morden. This could not have happened without support from Superintendent Kerry-Lynn Stadnyk, Project Supervisor Leonard Abe, Facility Team Leader Ross Messina and the painters David Romanchuk and Andrea Ryan.
“Parents are delighted because this work has really brought the playground to life,” said Morden. “Before the kids were often not engaged in meaningful ways and now there are more opportunities for our students and our communities.”
From Navitha, a Grade 5 student in the school newsletter, The Eagle's Nest News:
“The new junior and intermediate pavement lines that were painted in the fall are very fun! There is human chess or checkers board where you can compete against your friends. There is a calculator and you can play various games with it. You can use the standing long jump to test your skills for track and field. The four squares can be used for many games, one of our favourites is called Four Corners. There is also Twister which is fun and wacky. The pavement lines are a great addition to the junior and intermediate section.”