I always enthuse about water walls to participants on all the many outdoor play courses I run. Many bloggers across the globe have posted enthusiastically about their versions including:
- Let the Children Play
- Teacher Tom
- Child Central Station
- Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning
- and many more!
I work in an area where a lot of practitioners tell me they cannot leave equipment out overnight. Usually storage space is pretty tight too. Thus I wanted to look at ways of creating simple, portable water walls which children could create themselves.
This year I’m doing class cover in a large city school with mainstream and additional support needs classes at every primary stage. I never feel I’m in a big school with 21 classes and an 80-place nursery. The Primary 6 ASN class I’m working in have been really up for these practical design experiments.
Firstly we tried a water on a static lattice frame bought from a local garden centre. The beauty of these is the diagonal structure. This means that all the pipes and bottles tend to be fixed quite naturally with a lean on one side. Interestingly, the children opted for the animal tubes most of all from a range of materials offered. I think the bright colours appealed!
We put the lattice frames back-to-back so that the nursery children could access a water wall as well as the P1 ASN class and in the hope of generating some collaborative work through the fence. The children worked hard to ensure interesting designs. We also use a stretchy, flexible willow lattice frame. This is particularly portable as it squashes tight. It’s not as wide though…
The children collected water from the nursery who are very tolerant of our constant interruptions. The children did not expect that water would be so heavy to carry.
However, all was not well. No child from either the nursery or the P1 class really played much with the water walls. The P6 children worked out why. The structures were simply too tall. So the following week, the lattice was set up horizontally and much closer to the ground. One boy spent a long time putting the water wall together that you can see below…
And hey presto! The wall got used for quite a while that afternoon!
The children used a variety of fastenings. I had foam-covered wire, soft anodised wire, plastic washing line and velcro straps available for children to use. The wall does take some continuous maintenance as children help themselves to the hoses and pipes during break and lunch times for their own play purposes, but no-one seems to mind this 🙂