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