In recent years moveable wooden disks, logs and planks have begun to make an appearance in more and more school grounds that I visit. If you look closely at the photos from the Inverallochy update, you can see the place is littered with wooden bits and pieces. They are a much valued play resource.
The logs are not tidied away at then end of each break or lunchtime. Leaving them in situ allows children to continue the development of a theme or interest day on day. This helps with the creative process. It also sends a hidden message that the school values their work and creations. It’s also stops unnecessary work around developing tidying routines, etc. After all these are natural products which are meant to be left outside.
At the school where I work on Fridays, the Primary 1-3 children have really discovered the fun to be had with these loose parts. One day they have been a “fun bus.” Another time they’ve been a ship. Every day, design changes can be seen in line with the children’s interest and enthusiasm.
Many schools install logs as part of a seating area or circle. This is makes for a lovely naturalised look. I liked this circle at Inverallochy because of the spaces between the logs and the range of heights. There’s one child in Primary 5 who is currently testing himself to jump from log to log. He is very physically able and it’s a real ongoing challenge for him.
At my school, we went for a closer set of logs in one area. The children are very fond of walking around on top of them. We deliberately chose big fat stumps ranging in height from 300-500mm (thanks to my husband for procuring these). We didn’t want the children to be moving them about because it is a much used identifiable feature. We wanted a range of heights to add a bit more challenge to the balancing activities. Last week it was filled with bark chips. It is also used as a social gathering circle for stories, etc.
However moveable logs are extremely handy as portable seating and a lot cheaper than many commercial varieties. It also allows for a bit of choice if there’s enough for this purpose. Inverallochy School sourced their logs from a local firewood supplier. Local ranger services can sometimes advise as can the foresters and tree surgeons.
Increasingly sandpits are lined with logs. This works well too. As adults we tend to see this as the barrier to keep the sand in the pit. But children seem more open-minded. The children at Inverallochy use these for walking along, jumping off, etc. Children tend to view objects around them in terms of their play potential. That’s why children do things like leapfrog over posts or try and run along walls in a parkour style. It’s a normal thing to do as far as a child is concerned.
When I was visiting the Sea Life Centre just outside Oban, the entrance path provided a beautiful example of a log-lined path. This is so child friendly as they can choose their path more creatively. It invites decision-making… walking, running or jumping along a line of logs or the path? Or a combination? Or something else? Hmmm…
All-in-all, I think I’m looking forward to seeing many more creative uses of logs for play outside. Let me know if you’ve seen some good examples.