More about Transparent Tarp

14 March 2012 · 7 comments

in Outdoor Play, Play Resources

My love affair with transparent tarp continues. This past couple of months, my see-through bits of plastic has been used more than any other resource other than rope. It comes out during courses. It comes out when I’m doing any work that’s remotely play related. It’s a stock item and I’m waiting for it to collapse with over-use and, at times, complete abuse.

A good example of extreme use comes from last week. The tarp was a popular social space recently with  one class. I’ve a lot of photos of around half of the children coming under the tarp and smiling and interacting with others. This is a big deal as the children all have different support needs and spontaneous opportunities to be sociable are welcomed.

So in order to extend the experience, the next time, I thought it would be interesting to set up the tarp in a similar spot but with a slight twist. This time the tarp was attached to a bench, creating a wider space underneath. Sadly there was no gathering of the clans as I’d hoped.

However one child did something totally unexpected. He likes walking and crawling around the bench and decided to venture onto the tarp itself. As it was a rainy day, the tarp was wet and slippery. This child had a ball walking, falling, slipping and sliding on top of the tarp.

Even though I’m not going to be present next week when this class goes out to the wildlife garden, I’ve given the “Big Boys” instructions as to how to set up the transparent tarp. We thought it might be nice for the children to throw material onto the tarp and look at it from underneath.

The “Big Boys” were quite impressed even with a rain-stained version that we tried out below…

Depending on the outcome of next week, there are other possible lines of development which can happen.

For example, look at these acetate sheets! The whole appearance is of a frosty day. It was just over cast.

Coloured magnetic chips are very cheap and attractive. Here they are sparking in the sunlight on top of a transparent tarp.

And look at the completely different result when viewed from underneath the tarp! For me, I want to do an art project with older children creating interesting colour patterns this way.

The tarp can be set up high where anyone can walk under. But sometimes there’s value in having to crawl under and lie back. I rather like the effect in the photo below where one can view the tarp and the real view at the same time for a direct comparison.

The effects of light and shadow come into play in other ways. Here, you can see the effects of the different backdrop in combination with the sun shining.

With older classes, the transparent tarp is getting a lot of attention. It cries out to be used in dens! This photo is a tribute to all friends and practitioners in the Czech Republic 🙂

Sometimes the structures can get quite complex. I would never have thought about using this pipe as a supporting pole!

Often cheap tarp is useless in windy weather. The rivets split from the tarp and the material feels brow-beaten. However the transparent tarp seems to bear up to high winds and gusts, providing welcome shelter at this very windy playground.

At the moment, the best source of transparent tarp is the Cosy catalogue where they retail for about £15 – considerably cheaper than elsewhere. Phone 01332 370152 for a catalogue.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Your Therapy Source Inc March 18, 2012 at 00:13

Looks so mesmirizing to me with the colored magnetic chips. If you pull it taut do you get the nice raindrops sound if raining? This seems like a nice item to have for days when it is is gloomy and rainy out.


amy butler March 18, 2012 at 01:35

I just realized something so great about the transparent tarp, and maybe I’m just slow to get this part of it,….but we as teachers and adults can SEE the children through it. It is an issue here in the states, schools do not allow children to build dens and “hide” on the playground, msotly because of safety. With the transparent tarp, it gives the feeling of a fort or den for the children, but we can observe the children.
I’m adding a transparent tarp to my bag of tricks for sure!


Juliet Robertson March 18, 2012 at 06:52

Yes, the magnetic chips do make a noise and for this purpose many objects can be used this way which adds to the level of experimentation! The downside is that on windy days everything can be blown off!

Amy – you are correct, some people do find this aspect of transparent tarp and other materials reassuring. However, it’s perfectly possible for schools to selectively prune their bushes and shrubs so that it’s easier to look through them. It is terribly sad that this sort of action is perceived to be necessary.


Mrs Teacher March 18, 2012 at 21:27

I love the idea of having transparent tarp and I never realised it was so reasonably priced. I think the older children would love to play with it too. Thanks for sharing- you’ve given me lots of ideas 🙂


Sophie R July 9, 2012 at 21:35

I really want some coloured magnetic chips now! I can see so much potential in them. Please could you say where you got them? I looked online and the price was cheap but the handling fee was £10 and then tax was added on top…


Juliet Robertson July 10, 2012 at 07:57

Hi Sophie
I got my magnetic chips from the Cosy catalogue – see phone number above. Yes P&P seem to be the issue. The other place to look is science centres and shops. for example in Edinburgh there’s Science Sleuth. they might be up for a little negotiation here. I think part of it is that these have been an education resource so marketed through education catalogues where schools place a bigger order. saying that I haven’t checked out Amazon or EBay.

If anyone else happens to have a right idea here, could they let me know?


Sophie R July 15, 2012 at 16:05

Thanks very much for that, Juliet – I’d checked eBay and hadn’t seen anything better. Perhaps I’ll start with transparent tarp people, given I’m also interested in that. Cheers!


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