Today I’m asking your advice and thoughts! Below is a photo of a six-foot fence surrounding a nursery outdoor space. On the other side is a play space for Primary 1 and 2 children (4-7yr olds) which can be accessed from their classrooms. A couple of the classes are for children who have additional support needs.

I’m wondering what ideas you might have for some collaborative play that could take place through the fence. The rails are quite narrow so a piece of guttering can just fit through if given a wee squeeze. But there is a lot of fence. The photo shows just a tiny part of it. One side is bark chips, the other is tarmac.

To get your creative juices flowing, these are my initial thoughts, but please do add, expand and think laterally too. The children will have many ideas too once a few prompts are given…

  1. Have a water tray either side of the fence and put pipes and guttering in the area so that children can share water and resources.
  2. Put up a hanging “water wall” with bottles, funnels, pipes, tubes, etc. It might even become a swinging water wall with upside down bottles, with holes in, attached by string to swing through the fence.
  3. Make dangly art mobiles related to the children’s interests and activities. For example, after a trip to the beach, hang up threaded shells. Or have a series of little plants in plastic bottles hanging down in a tier, attached with string. In autumn, this might be laminated leaves or in summer pressed dried flowers that have been laminated.
  4. Long lacing places. Attach long laces or fine rope that can be used to thread holey objects such as large beads, CDs, etc. If the children are shown how to tie a knot then these can be left out and added to over a number of sessions.
  5. Bird feeding stations. Thread fat balls and make seed cake with string passing through for the birds to eat. Find slender birds feeders that can dangle through.
  6. Shared big rope play. Put a rope through the fence and see how the children decide to play with it…!
  7. Shared constructions. Blocks and bricks like duplo can be put on both sides and a bridge made over the low rail. Then see what other creations happen as a result. This could be extended to larger building projects using long sticks.

Finally, on the Creative STAR Facebook page there is a photo album dedicated to giving ugly fences a makeover. You might enjoy looking and contributing to this too.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

lizzie May 25, 2010 at 19:03

How about ropes with a pully / cog system that can pass pictures / notes through to friends on the other side of railings? Have in my mind the washing lines you see between houses in spain / Italy?

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lizzie May 25, 2010 at 19:06

How about a rope system with cogs/pulleys. They can send notes / pictures through to friends on the other side of the railing. Have in my mind the washing lines that you see between buildings in spain / italy?

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Debi May 25, 2010 at 19:09

I don’t have an idea to contribute, though I’d love to see what the kids would come up with given a rope to share. A ramp between the two spaces would be intriguing, too.

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Juliet Robertson May 25, 2010 at 19:55

Hi Lizzie and Debbie

Thanks for your thoughts – I like the potential of pulleys and ramps! The mind is buzzing!

Best wishes
Juliet

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CatWay May 25, 2010 at 20:09

You seem to have lots of great ideas. I thought maybe ribbons to weave through the fence.

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Michele-Play Parks May 25, 2010 at 20:37

I was thinking pulleys, too. Even pulleys with water jugs or boxes of treasure.

It also makes me think about fishing poles. Make poles out of stick and string and fish for nature goodies from the big kids?

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Juliet Robertson May 25, 2010 at 20:46

Cat – The fence is very wide for weaving with ribbons (which actually can make it a good challenge in itself) I did think that other less-traditional materials may have potential too including willow sticks…or materials/objects that make a sound when pulled through.

Michele – I love the fishing game! This would be a good challenge having to fish for all sorts of objects on the other side of the fence.

Thank you both very much.

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salisburydowns May 26, 2010 at 00:22

Juliet, what about a series of pipes that can sit between the rails that are tippable between the two areas – then they can tip water, sand, pebbles etc between the rails.

I also like Catway’s idea of weaving using thick wide ribbons.

And, dare I say it – how about a gate? 🙂

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jenny May 26, 2010 at 01:34

I was thinking pulleys as well, because we are going a bit pulley mad at preschool!

What about letter boxes on either side with openings at the back so that they can post letters to each other?

Or some kind of musical wall / banging wall. There are some images for insipration on my post:

http://progressiveearlychildhoodeducation.blogspot.com/2010/05/taking-music-play-outside-part-2.html

or this amazing music wall from Filth Wizardry:

http://www.filthwizardry.com/2010/05/music-wall-rip-music-tree.html

Another thought is rigging up some sort of communication system / talk tubes, or tin can phones.

A shared cubby, with one wall on one side of the fence and another wall on the other side of the fence.

Marble tracks using lengths of guttering and plastic tubing.

Tug of war with ropes.

Bean bag tosses through the fence.

Shared container gardening with herbs or veggies, with containers backing each other and the fence in between.

Bamboo gutters on either side of the fence so they could have races with cars or marbles.

I think thats it from me for now! I love a challenge 🙂

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Teacher Tom May 26, 2010 at 02:20

Oh man, these are all terrific ideas, Juliet! And the comments contain ideas that are just a good. It makes me want to build a fence just to try them out.

My only thought is some sort of postal system. Of course they and just pass things back and forth between the railings, but some sort of mailboxes might be fun.

My “word verification” is “gated.”

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Juliet Robertson May 26, 2010 at 06:45

Caro – You’ll be delighted to know there is a gate! Of course it’s designed to stop nursery aged children leaving the area. Which, of course, means they sussed out how to do this within days of moving into this new nursery.

Jenny – Music has it’s possibilities. I think the children would have fun experimenting with instruments hung along one side and children on the other side sneaking up and giving them a surprise bash. Alternatively slim objects that can fit between the rails such as wind chimes would be an option.

Pipes, tubes and pulleys work well. I have some hamster pet extendable plastic tubes which would work well for many of your suggestions.

Container gardening will be done on a back-to-back system in order to increase the potential biodiversity value of one part of the site.

I think for games, with balls, bean bags, marbles being passed or posted with also be great. This is an area where the children’s creativity will get going.

And of course posting…oh yes. I bet a birdbox or two would work well here!

BIG THANKS AGAIN to you all.

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Gwynneth Beasley May 26, 2010 at 07:27

I love you ideas – 1 and 2 combined would be awesome!

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mad May 26, 2010 at 18:48

wondering if there’s some way to make a kind of ‘connect 5’ type of game using the railings… might be a bit advanced for the nursery but it’s a framework to build on..

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