More Masking Tape

16 March 2011 · 10 comments

in Early Years Outdoors, Outdoor Play, Play Resources

Every piece of masking tape tells a story. From where it first came off the roll, how long it was made, where it was stuck, how it was gathered and where it came to rest. Most importantly it is the story of play with creativity, exploration, investigation and imagination mashed into moments of joy.

A few weeks ago as part of the Aberdeen City Outdoor Nurture Project, I put out some masking tape. At first the bag was ignored as there was lots of other exciting activities going on. However after a while, I took out one roll, attached it to the fence and waited to see what would happen. Here is this story:

A couple of children got to work, declaring that the slide was dangerous and needed to be sealed off.

The masking tape did this job beautifully. The slide was very carefully covered too.

However, it is hard to ignore something that you are “not allowed” to do or enter. Very soon, the girl who had sealed off the steps, decided to venture past the tape and went up the steps.

Meanwhile, the area continued to get sealed off by children experimenting and seeing how long the masking tape could go without breaking.

Back at the slide there was a problem. Three children were now up at the top of the slide. They couldn’t go back down the steps or down the slide. They were stuck. I waited to see what they would do.

Eventually the girl decided enough was enough and carefully started to climb down the slide, trying to keep the masking tape intact but this simply wasn’t possible. It broke. Oh no! OH YES!

When she realised that the masking tape could be broken the girl was delighted. Immediately she went to the steps and broke past the masking tape there too.

And the boys followed suit.

After that the focus was on breaking masking tape for a while.

Now this frustrated one child, who rather liked the lines of masking tape. He asked me if he could use sellotape instead and fetched it from inside.

On his own, he started to restore some of “the damage”.

Although a lot of masking tape was used, the depth of play and focus shown by the children were great. Masking tape makes me realise why learning through play is what it’s really all about. For all of us!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherry and Donna March 16, 2011 at 10:47

Oh Juliet what fun, simple, cheap, scientific, mathematical, explorative play based learning took place here today … LOVE IT!!!
Donna 🙂 🙂


landartista March 18, 2011 at 23:03

I am new to your blog and LOVE your ideas. They are mostly easy, fun and inexpensive. As a landscape designer I think folks often get caught up in a complex and expensive play area. You prove that a little creativity may be all we need.



Juliet Robertson March 19, 2011 at 07:40

Thanks Michelle

I mostly work in schools that do not have an ideal playscape. So we make do with what we’ve got. My personal theory is that if a teacher goes outside lots and uses the space there, then he or she has a much better idea about what is needed outside in terms of play and learning.

Best wishes


atelierista March 20, 2011 at 23:46

I am having trouble with my tape orders- I keep getting colored masking tape that isn’t very sticky! It is very frustrating for the children. I have tried several school supply websites, after not having luck with my old standby discount. Is anyone else having this problem?


jeannezoo March 21, 2011 at 01:16

love love love masking tape…thanks for the lovely narrative of the exploration 🙂


jeannezoo March 21, 2011 at 01:19

love love love masking tape…thanks for the lovely narrative 🙂


Juliet Robertson March 21, 2011 at 08:19

I tend to buy masking tape from either DIY stores or the supermarket. These tend to supply at a better price offer discounts and have stickier tape. I know what you mean – the quality can vary widely.


Dana C. Doyle March 22, 2011 at 13:17

Love this story! I have made masking tape available for children in the play and they just LOVE it. So nice to hear/read an account of its uses in play. And with the same enthusiam I had when watching the children make use of its simplicity to create complex play scenes 🙂


Teacher Tom March 27, 2011 at 17:16

What a fun game the children came up with Juliet! It reminds me so much of the Tom Hunter song, “Build It Up And Knock It Down.”

We haven’t as much masking tape play this year. I’ll let this be a prompt!


Kierna C March 31, 2011 at 19:15

Love it Juliet – guess what we’ll be doing next week with all the ‘old’ tape that has stopped being so good for actually making things :)re


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