Children love mazes. Whenever I undertake consultations with children about what they like to do, the idea of having a maze in the school grounds really appeals to them. One school I worked with ran a competition for a maze mural, and the children created this picture as a result:
However I’ve always had conundrums about mazes in school grounds. Chalk mazes are great for individuals to experiment, but after a little bit of use or rain, they quickly disappear. I’m not keen on permanent mazes painted on playgrounds as they offer little continuous challenge. Hay bale mazes are fun for a PTA fund raiser and have great play value on a temporary basis. I’d love to live in a warmer country where growing a sunflower maze would be interesting and fun. A simple maze can be designed in long grass by mowing a path or pattern.
At The Coombes School a labyrinth has been adopted as the school’s symbol. There are two labyrinths or mazes in the grounds. If you click on the link you can see the sort that get painted onto the school’s playing field. However I particularly liked this one:
The construction is remarkably simple. The turf has been removed and bark chips placed directly on top. Broken tiles and man made stones are used as lines. This means that it is very easy to change the layout according interest, ability and need. In fact if you look at this YouTube clip, the layout is different:
The children and adults walked the path of the labyrinth, following one behind each other.
Whilst we were walking and reflecting, a parent played music for us. This really made the atmosphere quite special and calm.
Once you had gone through the labyrinth, everyone was asked to gather at Coombeshenge, the nearby stone circle and to sit or stand there quietly.
Everyone was asked to share their thoughts as they walked through the maze. The questions and biblical quotes were discussed briefly. I really liked the simplicity of this activity as one approach to undertaking RME outside.
Now in case you are wondering if and whether there is any difference between a maze and a labyrinth, the answer can be found at this A-maze-ing website.