Over the past few years, I have come to favour certain items for outdoor play. Guttering ranks highly for many reasons. Some children get completely absorbed in the exploration of the possibilities. As the possibilities are endless, then so is the exploration and so begins a positive spiral of deep investigative play.

Guttering seems to aid natural cooperation. By this I mean that children almost instinctively work and play together. Even children who usually play alone end up working with another child, even briefly. It is not an adult encouraging children to play together or setting up a structured activity that requires children to interact.

I adore the big size of guttering. I don’t cut it down to a “manageable” or “safe” size. I think children handle the uncut versions beautifully and enjoy the satisfaction of being able to move big pieces themselves.

Guttering links play to the real world. I find it hard to believe that this essential play resource, is a necessary part of a house, draining water away from the roof. It leads to questions about where water goes and an exploration of holes and drains.

Guttering and water go together like toast and marmite. Yet guttering seems to work brilliantly for any activity that requires movement of an object. Cars, stones, balls and other objects get carefully placed on guttering or tossed recklessly down the pipes. I think Teacher Tom’s idea of pumpkins dipped in paint and rolled down guttering adorned with masking tape really says it all! This is one of my all time favourite posts.

Guttering is a big loose part. It can be moved everywhere. Personally, I think it is a crime to have it permanently attached to anything or stuck in a guttering ramp day-after-day. It’s like trying to cage a free spirit! Guttering works best when moved from place to place depending on the needs of the children playing.

It can be attached to fences using velcro straps or soft wire. It is very accessible when left on a hill. The joining bits make it go round corners or change direction.

When added to other large fixed items the potential of guttering is further increased. Outgrown play equipment takes on a new form. In one play training session I was impressed with the guttering playworkers had created that transformed a bridge through piping water over and around it.

I like seeing guttering being part of a wider play activity. Where it just becomes another part rather than the main being. I never quite worked out why the bread crates were needed as bridges, but I was assured this was important at the time.

Oh and guttering is easy to get hold of! Most DIY shops stock various sizes and colours. I tend to buy 3 half pipes and 3 pipes, along with a selection of attachments. Black is dark and dramatic. But a light colour is great when food colouring is added to the water.

So, guttering is good. Go get some, if you haven’t already got some

We Play

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherry and Donna March 2, 2011 at 10:00

Great post Juliet. I agree guttering is one of the best loose parts you can have for play … outside and in!
Donna 🙂 🙂
BTW. You really should try vegemite on your toast … beats marmite hands down … heheheheh!! 🙂

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UP Early Childhood March 2, 2011 at 11:45

It makes great book shelves indoors too! What a diverse and inexpensive material :).

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child central station March 2, 2011 at 11:46

It makes great bookshelves inside too! What a great inexpensive and diverse material!

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Abbie March 2, 2011 at 13:39

This is awesome. I would love to play with that outside so I can’t imagine a kid out there that wouldn’t think this was fabulous!

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Juliet Robertson March 5, 2011 at 08:08

I will definitely eat Vegemite when I visit Australia. Somehow it doesn’t taste so nice outwith its home country! LOL!

Bookshelves? Brilliant Amy! Thanks for this suggestion. Actually I rather like the idea of them being used as little outdoor bookshelves…!

Abbie – your local DIY store will have guttering. Even just a couple of pieces are worth buying.

I ended up buying more guttering this week. I’m now a proud owner of grey AND black guttering and even bought some extra funky attachments.

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jenny March 7, 2011 at 08:51

I agree Juliet – guttering is good!

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child central station March 9, 2011 at 03:29

Juliet-

We have a section of our fence that is going to be filled with a couple of rows of the guttering for our outdoor bookshelves. As soon as the snow disappears we have big plans for continued changes to our outdoor space! Thanks for continuing to provide inspiration and ideas! (I gave you a shout out on Sunday) I posted a link up for outdoor classroom inspiration which I quickly moved to a page instead of a post. It has a linky if you care to pop on by and/or link up any posts!

Thanks!

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Mercedes August 2, 2011 at 02:34

Those are fantastic ideas. The kids look like they are enjoying themselves!

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Mama Pea Pod August 2, 2011 at 04:54

OH, so fun! Would love for you to link this up to the Outdoor Play linky party!

http://mamapeapod.blogspot.com/search/label/%7BOutdoor%20Play%20Linky%20Party%7D

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Juliet Robertson August 2, 2011 at 10:35

Thanks for the suggestion Jane – I’ve been quite lax about link ups lately!

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Mama Pea Pod October 27, 2011 at 13:21

Hi Juliet, just wanted to let you know that the Outdoor Play Party linky will be back up and running again starting tomorrow (Friday). Would love for you to come back and share more of your wonderful outdoor play experiences with us!

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