The Moveable Bench

2 June 2012 · 4 comments

in Play Resources

Recently, we put a load of loose parts into a tarmac area with little else in it. The idea was to provide open-ended materials with no fixed uses to encourage creative and imaginative play. This included items such as:

  • Bread crates
  • Wooden wine boxes
  • Hoses of different sorts
  • A wooden drum
  • A pallet
  • Rope
  • Lots of tyres (I’m particularly pleased with the bicycle tyres and a quad bike tyre)
  • A camouflage net (sold for £7 per metre in the Cosy catalogue – bargain, and really strong stuff compared to the standard ones)
  • Two willow arches (again, a Cosy special)
  • Other spare bits and pieces

I also stuck in a little bench – with a storage compartment under the seat that came from the Cosy catalogue (apologies – this is not a sponsored post, it’s just that the school has a lot of Cosy gear and often people want to know where things I write about come from).

I was interested to see how the children would use it and envisaged lots of house-type role play. As usual the children were far more creative than that. There’s been prisons, houses on fire and all sorts of other drama happening.

At first the bench stayed put in one corner. After a couple of weeks the children realised it could be moved about. Since then, it has been in a different place every day.

There is something profound about a moving bench. It tells me the children feel ownership of this area. It’s an indicator that children are using the space creatively and imaginatively. It is not a neat and tidy area as the staff try and let the resources stay as they are rather than tidy them away every day. It allows the play to develop and continue and run its natural course.

I like seats outside. You can see my collection on my Facebook page. But every outdoor space needs chairs or seats that are moveable. In one nursery, the staff have noticed that the chairs they put out, usually end up away from the prying eyes of adults behind a long line of bushes and shrubs.

It’s also good for building up a picture of one aspect of how children socialise outside. Where seats are put and their arrangements are worth recording in some way. Then if your setting or school decides to buy seats, you know what sort would work best and where they should be placed.

I’d love to hear about any other “moving” tales of seats and furniture outside…

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kierna C June 2, 2012 at 09:12

So true & I love the wine crates, they are so hard to get here. I think that’s why our milk crates are so popular because they make natural seats yet are so easily moved about. I got a phone call from the Cosy people last week to let me know postage for my order was going to be £30 & did I want to proceed – oops, but thankfully the Acting principal signed off on it!


Juliet Robertson June 2, 2012 at 09:23

Your order with Cosy may arrive on wooden pallets! So you at least get something extra!

The wine boxes came from my sister-in-law who works at a hotel and also sourced some of the bread crates for us.

Apparently they are in high demand by designers etc.


jenny June 3, 2012 at 03:10

This is right up my alley Juliet! I agree with you – I love seeing kids move things about as it speaks volumes not only about ownership of their environment but also that they are in an environment that gives them the trust and permission to do so. It might get messy, but it is real, hands-on play.


Juliet Robertson June 3, 2012 at 17:11

Thanks Jenny – very good point about the trust and permission given.


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